Creating trust and value in the first moments

Setting up a password manager can feel like dealing with a machine. What if we could make it feel more human?


I worked in a cross-functional team at Dashlane: 2 devs, 1 design manager, 1 Product Manager, 1 Data Scientist, 1 UX Writer and 1 Product Designer (myself).

UX Research

Defining the problem

With our user researcher, we narrowed down to the root cause of the onboarding problem. We created this TL;DR to easily share our findings with the different stakeholders.

Story of one user test

We were visiting a young couple in their home. While interviewing the mom, the dad was taking care of the baby. We asked a few questions about her online habits to get a feel of her persona. We then asked her to install Dashlane on the device of her choice. She chose her phone (they never use their laptops at home because it reminds them of work).

After creating her account, the mobile onboarding asked her to connect her computer to the account. As she didn't remember where it was, she asked her husband. He leaned over in some shelves to fetch — while still carrying the baby. The mom opened the computer, to find out that it was shut down. We could feel her frustration with the process. The dad behind said to us: "she's being very patient for you!" (translation: she's a churned user)

After some time, something unexpected happened: the mom turned over and said to her husband:

— Weren't you using a password app too?
— Yes, I'm using a password manager at work for the bank. I'm also using a personal one on my phone, but I didn't mention it to you.
— Why not?
— Well... I know you wouldn't be able to handle it.
— What do you mean?
— I know it's not your thing, you would find it too complicated.
— Are you sure? What's the name?
— Let me check...

The dad pulls out his phone, swipes through a few pages and opens a group:

— Here! Dashlane.

At this point, we were sinking into our chairs.

But we maintained our UX research habits. We dig through why he felt this way and why he didn't mention the app before.

It turned out that he felt like it was part of his identity: his hobbies are quite technical and he likes to take time to set up this kind of stuff at home. He knew his wife enjoys when something gives her value out of the box, without requiring an extensive setup.

In a nutshell, they are fitting the 2 Dashlane personas: Tech Pro and Tech Minimizer. This interview and many others helped us define the problem and precise Tech Minimizers emotions, context and mindset when setting up the app.

This work led to define the new market category: the access engine

Building a united team

I shared a clip of a user interview with the team to make it concrete. We also opened the perspectives — getting away from tech — by adding inspirations from Japanese hospitality (omotenashi) and from Pixar's storytelling.

Using a doctor metaphor as a vision

Our inspiration was:

"how could we create trust the same way a doctor does it with his patients?"

Using this metaphor was a good communication tool within Dashlane: people immediately grasped what we were trying to do.

The two islands: how it feels to be distracted by the onboarding

If people chose to download Dashlane, it is because they believe it could ease their pain. They are on the first island and are not satisfied with their situation.

They start swimming towards the second island, but on the way we distract people with a bunch of question about setting up the system. When they're finally done with that, we just leave them on their own in the middle of the ocean, clueless about how they can reach the second island.

It's like an airline which would ask for your credit card number and passport first, but then tells you: "Sorry, we actually don't fly to Tokyo!"

Having a goal put actions into perspective

We need to understand why people are coming to Dashlane and bring them to their destination. Providing context puts the whole process into perspective: the purpose of every step is now perceived as bringing people closer to his goal, rather than a bump on the road.

Our 3 team commandments: (psychological focuses)


Brainstorming: everyone is involved

PMs, Developers, Writers, Data analysts, User researchers were involved to build the concept. Building the concept together was key in uniting the team: we had a common problem to solve.

I put up on the board the research insights. This was our brainstorming starting point.

This got the devs to surpass themselves

Our devs told me they were willing to surpass themselves to create a better experience. I asked why they felt that way:


Questions to understand you

Koober After - Greg Jeanneau

We knew we needed to give value as early as possible. The onboarding shouldn't be about what the system needs from people — but about how it can help them solve their problems.

If a doctor told us right away:

I need your social security number. And I don't accept credit card.

We wouldn't feel like we're making any progress. Instead, questions like this makes you feel welcomed and understood:

"What brings you here? What kind of symptoms appeared?"

The first 2 steps are our own version of that. After each question, we reassure the newcomer that we have is needed to help him/her.

The personal plan is designed to make you feel like you're walking on a safe path. When you're done with it, you know that Dashlane is doing what it is supposed to do.

👉 Time to play with the prototype:


The trust questions

Defusing doubts and concerns

This FAQ was very appreciated during our user-tests. When people try Dashlane, there are always 2 main concerns:

  • What if Dashlane is hacked?
  • I'm afraid of putting all my password in one place

We made sure to address those. It was sometimes surprising to people that Dashlane can't see their passwords.

Building trust with the right timing

We placed this FAQ after you answered the 2 questions, not after the first one. How would you feel if a doctor told you right away:

"I never killed anyone and here are my diplomas!"

Suspicious, right? We made sure the first two screens would be dedicated to getting to know you — just like a doctor would ask:

"What brings you here? When have these symptoms appeared?"

Getting set up

Each card was built as a tiny landing page:

  • Header = Main benefit
  • Sub header = Clarification if needed
  • Button = Clear CTA that complements the header (the two together should be self-sufficient)
  • Animation = it helps people to picture the benefit and it helps to build the mental model

👉 Time to play with the prototype:

An iterative process

It took us some time to land on sometimes we were satisfied with. Many user-tests and rounds of feedback were necessary.


7.3% lift in retention

During user tests:

  • 100% felt guided (and thought it was simple and clear)
  • 80% felt they trusted the app
  • 80% felt motivated to continue with the app
  • 100% felt their expectations were exceeded

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