We have been talking about some recent experiments around user onboarding in the Open LMS platforms, and we want to share a bit more in detail what's behind this initiative by borrowing a concept from Wes Bush's book Product-Led Growth.

In his book, Wes shares the analogy of the bowling alley to introduce the concept of bumpers and we can use an example of how this could translate into an e-learning platform to see what we're aiming at.


  • Let's think of the bowling player as the end-user e.g. an instructor.
  • Knocking down all the pins is the target outcome. In the context of teaching and learning, this could be creating content in a course, submitting an assignment, or any other target behavior that we want our users to experience. They want to move from a current state in which they have not even launched the ball, into one in which they knock down the pins.
  • The canals represent a challenge. It could make the ball deviate and not get even close to a pin. For our example, this could be a confusing navigation step, a distracting element, or other things that deviate users' attention from the intended goal.
  • Then there are the bumpers, which act as a way to keep the ball rolling towards the pins, or for our example, help users focus on achieving their goals in the Open LMS platform.

Wes talks about 2 types of bumpers:

  • Conversational bumpers: These are emails or notifications that guide users back into the platform and target outcomes. Most of our customers are already doing this via email, PLD notifications, and other mechanisms.
  • Product bumpers: These are the ones that we're experimenting with and are tools like welcome messages, empty states, checklists, tours, etc. That also guides the user to achieve target outcomes, but directly from the platform, not in an external context like email. Two examples of this we're testing at the moment in the Open LMS trial site are:
    • A checklist on how to create your first course.
    • A couple of tours around important UI elements of Snap's course interface as in the screenshot below.

If this sounds a lot like performance support, you're not alone! I'm also amazed at how these concepts play all together. To me, this is similar to "on-the-job training" and other approaches in which we help the users to understand how they can achieve something directly when they need to do it. 


I love the bowling alley analogy and especially the concept of bumpers. Have you used a similar approach in the past? Are you using product bumpers in your platform?


We'll be sharing more about our progress and learnings around product bumpers in the onboarding experimentation group here:



You're all welcome to join this group. We'd love to hear your feedback and experiences to keep learning together. We'll also have the chance to participate in some closed betas for this if you're interested. 


Stay safe!