Mobile App Onboarding – What To Consider

First impressions are everything when it comes to your App. Those valuable, personalised experiences you worked so hard to create as part of your App flow are nothing if your users don’t get past the first few screens. Not convinced? A recent study by Localytics highlighted that around 20% of Apps are only used once. I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty worrying statistic. Crucial to your Apps success is delivering the best first impression that you can – and the starting point for this is the onboarding process.

What?, I hear you say. Onboarding? A great onboarding process delivers a positive first impression of your App and a strong understanding of how the App will address user needs. It shouldn’t only look great, it should provide an easy, intuitive experience that encourages the user through the App process, keeps them focused and delivers on its promises. It should also ensure they come back again. But like everything when it comes to App development, it’s easier said than done. So to help, we’ve assembled a checklist of elements which have proven successful in user onboarding.

What’s really important is mapping out what you need to measure (that is need to measure) and building this into your app build. Retrofitting onboard management after the app is live is mighty difficult and costly – both opportunity cost as well as programming cost.
So heres a few things that we think about when we build apps for our enterprise clients.

1.) Keep it simple.
We’ve all been there – downloaded the App of choice, opened it up, and given up halfway thru because it’s just too darned complicated. Information overload, however encountered, is a killer. The golden rule? Keep it simple. Sure, new users need at least a little help – but that doesn’t mean telling them everything there is to know. So provide the basics and no more. Kick off with your value proposition – as I user I want to know what’s so great about your App and what I’m going to get out of it before I commit. Once you’ve done that, then move on to outlining App functionality – in as few words as you can get away with. You need your users to stay focused, and more importantly, interested.

2.) Ensure the account set up process is as painless as possible
Because your value proposition has hit the spot for me, I’m in. But that’ only half the battle. The sign-up process for many apps accounts for a significant percentage of drop-off in App usage – almost 56% of users. Why do they need access to my contacts? What will they do with my phone number? Do they really need to know whether I’m man, woman, beast? How much longer is this going to take? Your end goal at signup point should be to make this step quick and easy and to move users on to the next step – not to frustrate or disengage them. So when you’re considering this aspect of your app, think about the following – when is it a good time to request login/signup info? How do I want users to sign in – or do they need to sign in at all? Should I offer them ‘social’ sign in (via Facebook; G+; Twitter)? And if there are a number of steps involved in creating an account? Let users know where they are in the process, bringing us nicely on to …

3.) Let your users know where they are in the flow
The need to know our place in the world and where we are in relation to others is a fundamental aspect of our nature. The same is true for the App UX – it’s comforting to know where we’re at in the flow, how far we’ve come, how well we’re doing (or not) and what’s coming next. Doing so will compel your users to continue through the flow, guided by a light at the end of the tunnel rather than second-guessing just how much more there is to do before I get there. There are lots of ways to do this – by numbers, by charts, by progress bars or just outright praise eg. Congratulations, only two more steps before you’re done! Like everything in your App optimising process, experiment to find out what works best for your particular App and your particular user.

4.) Show me and I’ll learn
I don’t know about you, but too much text on a page sends me running for the hills. However, if someone shows me how something works then I’m all ears (and eyes). Apps are all about interactivity, so don’t make your users sift through the chaff to get to the wheat – rather, show them what to do and make the App experience as immersive as possible. That way I’ll learn what I should be doing because I’m doing it as opposed to reading it, and I’ll find myself in the ‘flow’ of your App a lot quicker. The bottom line? Deeper engagement. And once you’ve got me on that, well you’ve got me full-stop.

5.) Communicate like you’re talking to someone, not something
To be honest, I don’t come across many apps that deliver information in a robotic way – that’s the kind of thing that belongs firmly in the past. These days your App should deliver information in a relatively conversational tone – like you’re talking to someone, not something. With the sheer volume of apps that are out there, that’s going to mean many different things to many different apps. Health app? Your tone should be friendly but authoritative and trustworthy. Gaming app? Maybe a healthy dose of humour and informal tone will be in order of the day. Fieldwork app? Easy to understand, clear, instructional. So think about your audience – how would you talk to them? Once you’ve established that, get writing (or find the best copywriter in town and take them to lunch).

6.) Help build an ongoing ‘relationship’ between your App and its users
You want your App to be an ongoing experience where users learn new things over time. So avoid giving them every single piece of information there is to know about your App during the onboarding process – not only will it feel like information overload, it’s also likely to put users off coming back. Start with the basics, and as users continue to use it, you can deliver new information at the appropriate stages in the flow. Not only does this make for a much better UX, it can be encouraging, motivating and educational. When users come across new information, new features and capabilities, it’s a win-win situation, reinforcing progress and encouraging deeper dives into your App to find out more.

7.) It’s all about your users
Sounds odd, I’m sure – of course it’s all about your users. Without their blessing, your App will not survive. None of the above tips and tricks will work unless you gain a detailed, thorough understanding of your users and how they interact with your app. You’ll do this through usability testing, data capture, and testing again – and by applying your findings to your UX design. One of my go-to sites to keep on top of onboarding techniques and tips is www.useronboard.com – a veritable banquet of great information, teardowns and user discussion. Head over and inspire yourself!


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