Peter Schroeder


Breaking Down The Perfect Sign Up Flow

If there is anything I’ve learned about working with freemium sign-ups, it’s that the process is a game of give and take. The decision to find the right balance of data collection and ease of entry into your platform is an art all in itself.

The constant juggling act of testing forms, a/b testing pages, breaking the sign up process into multiple steps, and integrating onboarding into the mix is a constant evolution.

While every product needs to run their own specific tests, there is a lot we can learn by breaking down the perfect sign up flow. The company everyone should be trying to emulate with this process is Canva.(Try it out yourself here)

What everyone needs to realize, is to have a great sign up flow — you need to be able to guide your users to few actions you want them to take while also collecting their information to get them in to your product.

See exactly how Canva found the perfect balance in their sign up process. 👇

1. The Sign Up Process

Before getting all fancy with you forms and pages, don’t forget the first step — which is actually signing up the user.

Canva’s sign up page (also their homepage)

This is Canva’s sign up page ☝️ and there are a few key thing to pay attention to here.

  • The main call-to-action (CTA) that takes up about 25% of the screen is signing up for an account. This makes the action you should take clear, which is signing up for an account.
  • Right off the bat, they have you self-select your use case.
  • They have clear messaging on the benefits of signing up and social proof from users who love the product.
  • There is an option to switch languages.
  • In the menu, there are additional options to navigate anywhere that may be important to you (if your not ready to sign up.)

Next, there is an option to signup with you Gmail or other email address.

Here, they give you the option to fill out a simple form or sign up with a social account. (This is if you opted into signing up with you email and not a Gmail account) Notice that they give plenty of options of ways to get into the product, but only make one way clear.

They have a mapped out path for you to take, but they also have additional options if that path doesn’t work for you.

2. Product Personalization

Now that they already know your use case, they want to get even more granular with your data to see what you do specifically. This data helps them to serve you a custom set of templates that they know you are statistically likely to use.

For every data point they gather on you, they are able to serve you an even more personalized experience. This is similar to what Netflix does with their images based on the shows and movies you’ve watched.

It doesn’t take long for them to utilize the data that they have gathered on you. Now that they helped you:

  1. Create an account
  2. Self identify your use case
  3. Define your role

Canva uses this data to serve you a tailored selection of templates that you will love. This level of personalization almost guarantees that you will move on to the next step.

3. Create/Use The Product

What makes people go from Free Trial to Paid User? People are willing to buy products (whatever the price) when they see the value of it. If they see that your product can help them save time / money in their everyday lives, they’ll buy it.

(CCAs are a set of story-driven actions defined by falsifiable hypotheses that, when completed as a set during the trial, lead to conversion. — Lincoln Murphy) Basically CCAs are a set of actions users are doing that demonstrates the value of your service (leading to converting them from Free User to Paid Users)

There is no better value from a product than when you create something with it that you absolutely love.

This was my favorite part of the onboarding process. Once you made it through and your ready to start designing, they show you exactly how to use the product with a 30 second demo.

Not only is it a super simple product to use, but they walk you though exactly how to use it as well. Canva does an amazing job of taking users from complacent to creating content that provides them value.

4. Invite Coworkers/Colleagues

In the sign up process there is the option to invite your team to use Canva.

David W. McWilliam and David M. Chavis called this behavior “The Sense of Community,” which they characterized by the following statement (quoted after David Spinks):

“Sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together.”

And according to the two researchers, we belong to:

  • Share the sense of personal relatedness,
  • Matter and have influence on other people,
  • Fulfill our needs to belong,
  • Share the emotional connection with other members.

This clever and effective step in the sign up process creates a ‘viral’ effect for the product and helps to exponentially increase user growth and retention.

5. Close The Deal

Once you’re in Canva and creating, you’ll find it’s a beautiful and simple product. It has solved pains in my life and the free version serves the needs of millions of users.

Canva doesn’t exist to be a free tool though. They exist to make money and they do a hell of a job at creating mouse traps to get paid subscriptions.

From custom illustrations, to transparent backgrounds, to smart image resizing — Canva reserves their best features for paying customers (which is fair.)

Canva is one of the few tools where the majority of people can get by using their free version, forever. I find this strategy to be pretty awesome. They really embrace the mindset of give, give, give, give, ask.

By giving away such a useful free tool encourages viral growth. Heck, I’ve told hundreds of people about how awesome Canva is. I used the free tool for about a year before eventually upgrading to a paid subscription plan (my absolute favorite tool I pay for.)


Here is the simplified version of the Canva’s sign up flow visualized in a funnel.

Overall, Canva is an amazing tool that anyone can utilize. From marketers, to social media manager, to teachers, to designers. I encourage everyone to give it a try by creating a free account here —

Let me know what you think! 🤗

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