Best Practices

5 tips for creating effective Pendo guides, according to Pendo users themselves

Published Apr 14, 2022

There’s no better way to learn about a topic or subject than from someone who is a pro in it. At Pendo, we see our customers as some of the best experts available to help inspire fellow Pendo users how to get the most out of our platform. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

As part of our How I Pendo series, we’ve asked customers for any advice or tips they’d offer to other Pendo users—and to say we struck gold is an understatement. One topic that continues to come up is how to create the best possible in-app guides. There’s a lot you can do with Pendo’s guides, but it’s important to approach them strategically to ensure you’re truly adding to—not detracting from—users’ in-app experience.

Here are five best practices for creating strategic and impactful in-app guides, straight from some Pendo experts:

1. Minimize copy, maximize engaging imagery

As Pete Richardson, senior product marketing manager at Splash, put it, “Imagery matters.” He advised that the best way to drive engagement with your in-app guides is to keep them simple (e.g. with cohesive copy) and include imagery whenever possible.

Here are general guidelines to keep in mind for the length of your guide copy:

    • Tooltips: Contextual tooltips should be short and sweet and include about two lines of text maximum.
    • Lightboxes: It’s best to keep these pop-up guides to one paragraph, or four lines of text. Consider using bullet points to organize the information in a lightbox guide (and keep each to a single line of text).
    • Resource Center announcements: If you’re utilizing Pendo’s Resource Center, remember to keep the text short there, too. You don’t want to make users have to scroll just to read your post, and be careful with images since they take up vertical space and can be difficult to read in this small of an area.

2. Don’t be afraid to experiment

Pendo’s in-app guides offer the ultimate experimentation platform. Teams can easily create new guides, A/B test different options, and use insights from guide data (more on guide metrics below) to iterate and continue driving positive results. Jean Collings, director of lifecycle marketing at RingCentral, recommends testing things like the guide’s copy, imagery, and when the guide appears to users—then turning to the data to see how your tests are performing.

Josh Wells, instructional designer at Northwoods, experimented with a new use case and tried leveraging a guide to drive an out-of-app user behavior. He needed to find a way to guide users through the process of updating drivers that were external to the Northwoods app, but necessary to the product experience. Wells leveraged a Pendo in-app guide to provide context and help users feel more comfortable navigating the external update—and was able to deflect an increase in support tickets from confusion over the process. 

As you build out guide playbooks and standard use cases, remember to think outside the box and consider how you can use in-app guides to encourage or change certain user behaviors.

3. Always consider your users’ needs

Creating effective in-app guides starts with understanding who your users are and what they need. As PAR’s Tim Macnamara (technical writer, Data Central) and Sherri Ehrlich (knowledge and training lead, Data Central) noted, not every user completing a certain task will have the same background or level of familiarity with the process. In this case, you might need to create different versions of guides and segment them to users based on their level of technical or product knowledge. 

Allison Caldrone (senior in-product marketing manager) and Drew Grantham (in-product marketing specialist) from Citrix also highlighted the importance of thinking about where in your user interface (UI) an in-app message should live. There’s a balance to strike between not being too intrusive and ensuring users will still see it. Remember that the right location for a guide might not always be the first place you think of—for example, the product’s homepage. Lina Karlsson (senior product content owner at Calabrio) suggested that if a certain message or call to action is particularly important, consider resurfacing it for users until they complete the task you need them to complete.

4. Measure in-app guide performance

Once you’ve successfully launched an in-app guide, the work doesn’t end there. Adams Dodd, senior product marketing manager at Design Pickle, pointed out the importance of looking at Pendo data to track guide engagement and identify any opportunities for iterating and improving the experience. Guide metrics can also tell you if (or when) a guide has served its purpose and is doing what it’s supposed to do. 

For example, if you see a lot of clicks on your guide’s CTA button, that’s a sign that the guide is resonating with users. If a guide is meant to drive feature adoption or encourage certain in-app workflows, examine your product usage data to see if in-app campaigns are impacting user behavior. It’s also useful to set a conversion goal for every guide you create (when applicable). This way, you’ll know exactly what a guide is meant to do and can better analyze its performance and make any necessary adjustments.

5. Establish (and document) guide governance

As you leverage in-app guides for new use cases and more teams throughout your organization start using guides, it’s important to build the appropriate level of process and governance. The last thing you want is for users to feel overwhelmed, confused, or frustrated by all of the in-app communications they’re receiving.

Cassidie Adams, a program manager on’s product operations team, recommends creating a single source of truth for guide creation best practices that everyone at your company can access. It’s also helpful to build processes around how Pendo guides are created, how guides are prioritized, and who on the team owns each step.

If you’re looking for additional Pendo tips and inspiration, check out the full How I Pendo collection for more stories.