When you find yourself considering a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP), it’s essential to explore your options. With more than 50 different products on the market it can be overwhelming to choose the one that’s right for you. All DAPs aim to streamline the process of onboarding users to digital products and services, as well as improve user engagement and adoption rates. But the various features and functionalities they use to achieve this can differ greatly, as can the type of user it appeals to and the level of pricing. It’s important to be open to the idea that some alternatives may better align to your organisation’s unique needs.

What is Appcues?

Appcues is a software platform that helps businesses create personalised user experiences within their web applications. It provides tools for creating in-app user onboarding flows, feature announcements, product tours, and surveys without requiring engineering resources. Appcues allows companies to design and implement these experiences using a simple visual editor which lets them engage and educate users effectively within their product interfaces.

It also offers analytics features to track user engagement and behaviour within the app. Overall, Appcues aims to empower businesses to improve user adoption, retention, and satisfaction by delivering targeted and contextual guidance directly within their applications.

Founded in 2013 by Jonathan Kim and Jackson Noel, Appcues set out with the goal of revolutionising the way software businesses onboard new users. They’ve since served more than 4000 customers. It’s an American company, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.

Appcues differentiates itself by offering a comprehensive platform specifically designed to optimise in-app experiences and drive user engagement. It places a strong emphasis on usability, personalisation, and analytics.  One of its main selling points is the ability for you to create stunning in-app experiences in minutes without any help from your developers.

One of Appcues’ specialities is a focus on creating personalised and contextual in-app experiences for users. While other DAPs may offer similar features, Appcues places a strong emphasis on guiding users within the application interface itself, helping to improve user onboarding, feature adoption, and overall user engagement.

Appcues also boasts a user-friendly visual editor that allows non-technical users to create and customise in-app experiences without the need for coding skills. This means that product managers, marketers, and other team members can quickly make adjustments to and optimise user engagement strategies. As a result, teams can gradually improve the product. It gives them the opportunity to address issues and adapt to changing requirements or preferences which then leads to a better outcome overall.

It’s possible to have a full-feature free trial of Appcues and it offers three pricing tiers based on monthly active users for your product (or products). Their Essentials plan is $249 a month for up to 2,500 monthly active users.  Or their Growth plan is $879 a month for up to 2,500 monthly active users. It also offers a free trial for 14 days which provides complete access to all the Appcue features.

Appcues also offers customised onboarding, professional services, and dedicated customer support – all at an added charge on top of its pricing model.

Why Appcues Might Not Be the Right Fit

Despite its benefits, Appcues may not be the right fit for your particular situation. Appcues might not be suitable if you require advanced features like resource centres or knowledge bases and if you’re on a tight budget its pricing may not align with your financial constraints. It’s definitely worth thinking about whether alternative solutions might be better for your needs and whether you may struggle with aspects of Appcues like these:

  • Limited customisation: While Appcues provides a user-friendly visual editor for creating in-app experiences, that means there are some limitations in terms of customisation options compared to building entirely custom solutions. Users may find themselves constrained by the available templates and design options, especially if they have very specific or unique requirements for their in-app experiences.
  • Dependency on Third-Party integration: Appcues relies on integration with the underlying web application to deliver in-app experiences. This means that any issues or limitations with the integration, such as compatibility issues or changes to the application’s codebase, could impact the functionality of Appcues.
  • High pricing:  Appcues operates on a subscription-based pricing model, which may be costly for some businesses, particularly smaller startups or businesses with limited budgets. The initial cost of Appcues is already high and as the monthly active users increases this cost gets higher and higher.  The basic offering is for teams with less than 2,500 monthly active users which, compared with other DAPs, is a small number.
  • Steep learning curve: While Appcues aims to be user-friendly, there may still be a learning curve for new users, especially those who are not familiar with similar software tools or concepts like user onboarding and in-app messaging. Users may need to invest time in learning how to use the platform effectively and optimise their in-app experiences.
  • Not compatible with desktop applications: It’s important to note that Appcues is not compatible with desktop applications – software installed directly onto a user’s computer and often run offline. Instead, it exclusively operates with web-based implementations. While this limitation may not be an issue for industries favouring online software solutions, it could pose challenges in sectors where offline capabilities are crucial. Sectors which are more concerned with security, such as financial services, healthcare, scientific research, defence and government, or legal services would not find Appcues suitable if they tend to use desktop applications for a more secure option.

Even though Appcues is a popular choice of DAP, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the right product for your own situation. The best fit for you will depend on a combination of factors and how well Appcues aligns with your specific goals and priorities.

7 Appcues Alternatives

1. Omniplex Guide

Omniplex Guide is an exciting newcomer to the DAP market, but what it lacks in legacy it more than makes up for in innovation. Omniplex Guide is a systems training platform that gives users the support they need to confidently use business technology in the flow of their work. It offers in-app step-by-step walkthroughs and prompts that can be personalised to meet the specific needs of your organisation. Omniplex Guide helps you empower a hybrid workforce to improve data accuracy, minimise support tickets and deliver a streamlined user experience for employees and customers.

Omniplex Guide is the latest addition to Omniplex Learning’s portfolio of products and services. With over 30 years of experience, Omniplex Learning has empowered numerous organisations to design, create, and deliver impactful digital learning solutions. With equal resolve, it launched Omniplex Guide, a Digital Adoption solution, aimed at helping businesses get the most out of their systems and technology investments.

The Omniplex Guide Suite offers three distinct products: Guide Workflow Assistant, Guide, and Guide Pro.

Guide Workflow Assistant is designed for systems training and enables swift creation of user guides that can be exported into different file formats.  These can be refined in an authoring tool or directly uploaded to a Learning Management System or Sharepoint site.

Guide is an essential component to incorporate efficient, in-context user instruction into your cloud based applications. This centralised approach contributes to consistency, enhances the user experience and reduces the need for external assistance.

Guide Pro offers learning in the flow of work with advanced interactive in-app guidance. Its features empower users with enhanced workflow capabilities and enable a dynamic learning experience.

Both Guide and Guide Pro offer an attractive alternative to Appcues. Where Omniplex Guide excels is in its ease of use, efficiency, rich feature-set and scalability.  Key features include simplified guide creation, multi-language support, embedded content, user management, guide health, and form validation.

Its user-friendly design makes in-app guidance easy for both the creator and the end user. Omniplex Guide reduces the need to external help of extensive training, conserving time and resources and increasing efficiency. As your organisation’s needs evolve, Omniplex Guide can serve as a stepping stone towards more advanced solutions so its scalability is appealing.

Omniplex Guide offers pricing plans to meet the needs of every organisation and you can sign up for a free and instant product tour to see for yourself.

2. Chameleon

Chameleon was founded in 2015 and claims to offer the deepest integrations with analytics tools and CRMs. It actually offers a greater selection of UI elements than any of the Appcues alternatives.

Chameleon lets you choose from a large variety of different UI elements and in-app experiences. It excels with its extensive functionality for crafting Tours, Microsurveys, Tooltips, and Launchers. Offering a lightweight, contemporary, and focused approach, Chameleon provides advanced capabilities like real-time event-based targeting, custom CSS, rate-limiting, A/B testing, and seamless integrations with other platforms.

It’s ideal for teams prioritising exceptional user experience and seeking a cohesive stack of product tooling, Chameleon is particularly suitable for those utilising modern technologies such as single-page apps.

One of the things that make Chameleon a bit different it’s ‘Launchers’ which are in-app widgets to open checklists, small help widgets or notification centres.

It’s worth noting though that it’s hard to customise the UI elements and you don’t have much freedom to do so. You are only able to customise basic things code-free in Chameleon. More advanced customisation will need in-depth knowledge of CSS.

Pricing starts at $279 a month for Start-Ups, $1250 a month for growth and a custom price for Enterprise.

3. Pendo

Appcues and Pendo are both widely-used SaaS tools renowned for their capabilities in constructing contextual user onboarding flows, user analytics, and gathering user feedback. These applications share considerable overlap in functionality, particularly in their focus on facilitating user onboarding within SaaS companies, but there are key differences.

Pendo has been one of the main players in the DAP field for the last 11 years. Its forte lies in its ability to provide granular insights at the user level, facilitating detailed analysis of individual actions within applications or websites. This insight empowers product teams to map user journeys, identify friction points, and tailor experiences to individual interactions.

Additionally, Pendo boasts an array of tools for collecting qualitative feedback through surveys, polls, and NPS assessments, providing valuable insights into user preferences and concerns. Despite its robust analytics capabilities and role in driving product adoption through strategic UI patterns, critics note limitations such as infrequent real-life data updates, restricted UI patterns for onboarding, a steep learning curve, and high pricing.

Pendo is a very comprehensive solution but that comes with a large price tag. While praised for its comprehensive nature, some reviewers view its breadth of features as a drawback, potentially leading to paying for unnecessary functionalities.

Pendo provides tiered pricing options tailored for startups, SMEs, and enterprises, although it is widely recognised as one of the priciest Digital Adoption Platforms in the market.

4. UserGuiding

UserGuiding is a lower-cost, beginner-friendly user onboarding software that provides a variety of features designed to assist companies and customer success managers in efficiently onboarding new customers and increasing product adoption. It stands out for its user-friendly interface, focus on non-technical users, robust segmentation and targeting capabilities, integration flexibility, and dedicated customer support.

The lower price point might be a key consideration for smaller businesses and its ease of use is also appealing to entry-level users. UserGuiding lets you create interactive product walkthroughs code-free, so you don’t need help from your developers. It also lets you add different types of onboarding elements to your flows – things like modals, tooltips, hotspots, and checklists. These help users adopt the product and increase user engagement.

UserGuiding differentiates itself from other digital adoption platforms with its intuitive  visual editor that simplifies the process of creating in-app guides, tooltips, and walkthroughs. Its interface is designed to be accessible to users with varying levels of technical expertise, enabling them to design and implement interactive onboarding experiences without the need for coding skills.

Many DAPs target developers or technical teams, but UserGuiding caters primarily to non-technical users such as product managers, marketers, and customer success teams. Its emphasis on user-friendly tools and interfaces makes it particularly well-suited for businesses looking to empower non-technical staff to create and manage onboarding experiences independently.

It’s tiered pricing starts at Basic for $99 a month. This allows just 1 Team Member, a limit of 20 guides, and 2 checklists, plus you have to have UserGuiding branding on all UI patterns. The next level is Professional which starts at $399 a month and includes unlimited guides, hotspots, and checklists. And the highest tier is Corporate, which starts at $699 a month and offers access to everything plus personalised coaching.

5. UserPilot

Userpilot was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. It’s a digital adoption platform empowering businesses to enhance user onboarding, increase product adoption, and drive engagement within web applications. It offers a user-friendly visual editor for creating personalised in-app experiences like onboarding flows, feature announcements, and product tours, all without coding.

User segmentation and targeting capabilities enable tailored experiences, while analytics provide insights into user engagement and behaviour. Userpilot integrates with various third-party tools, enhancing its versatility.

Its product analytics help you understand user behaviour across your product journey and generates custom reports to answer any question. Userpilot’s user feedback lets you understand how your users really feel with contextual microsurveys.

Pricing for Userpilot starts at $249 a month for Starters. $499 a month for Growth and they offer a custom quote for Enterprise level customers.

6. WalkMe

WalkMe was founded in San Francisco, California, in 2011 and was one of the first DAPs on the market.  WalkMe promises better work flow and the ability to analyse, automate, and optimise experiences to eliminate digital friction. It distinguishes itself with its exceptional in-app guidance and support capabilities, facilitating personalised assistance directly within the application interface.

Users can access tailored in-app guidance, contextual tooltips, links, customisable onboarding checklists, and product tours. There’s also a WalkMe resource centre  offering on-demand materials and an AI-powered chatbot for user assistance.

For organisations embarking on digital transformation initiatives, WalkMe provides an attractive alternative to equally established players like Pendo. It caters to the priorities of product managers, UX designers, and customer service teams aiming to prioritise and elevate the user experience.

In contrast to some competing Digital Adoption Platforms, WalkMe places primary emphasis on enhancing user onboarding experiences while also targeting improvements in user productivity and software adoption rates within organisations. Its core functionalities encompass interactive guidance to streamline task completion, seamless onboarding for new users, targeted messaging, surveys, and feedback mechanisms to foster user engagement and communication

Pricing for WalkMe is typically aimed at Enterprise Level customers and custom quotes are available on request.

7. WhatFix

WhatFix was founded in San Hose, California in 2013 and excels in employee onboarding and creating in-app experiences. WhatFix is a great option for training, support and customer service teams who want to streamline their user onboarding. It helps to enhance product training and improve user engagement within applications.

Although you’d still need to use CSS for more bespoke options, employee onboarding material and in-app experiences can both be created without code if you’re happy without customisation. WhatFix shines in the DAP market for its intuitive authoring, personalisation, integration, flexibility and scalability.

It’s also good at providing personalised guidance tailored to individual user roles, tasks and context within the application. WhatFix emerges as a contender for leadership in the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) landscape. Its amalgamation of interactive guidance, in-app support, task automation, analytics, and personalisation capabilities renders it a potent solution for organisations aiming to enhance user adoption and utilisation of software applications.

WhatFix remains competitive in the realm of analytics capabilities, aligning closely with other prominent Digital Adoption Platforms. WhatFix Analytics stands out as a code-free event tracking and product analytics solution, empowering teams to gain insights into product usage, identify friction points, visualise user flows, establish user cohorts, analyse visual journeys, and track custom events.

Whatfix employs a subscription-based pricing model, with costs determined through personalised quotes. Given that 41.4% of Whatfix reviews on G2 originate from Enterprise-level organisations, it’s reasonable to anticipate that the pricing aligns with the needs and scale of Enterprise customers.

Which DAP is Right For You?

Choosing a product from such a crowded market-place is never easy, but before making your decision it’s crucial to consider all the options and how they compare. While Appcues is a robust product and a strong player in the field, one of the other contenders – Omniplex Guide, Chameleon, Pendo, UserGuiding, Userpilot, WalkMe and WhatFix – may provide an alternative more aligned with your DAP goals.