Mobile Onboarding 101: 3 Examples from Successful Apps

Note: This post originally appeared on UX Planet.

A great user onboarding experience is key to making a great first impression with your users and is valuable to long-term user retention. According to a study by Compuware, 80 to 90 percent of all downloaded apps are used once and then eventually deleted by users. More than 3,500 mobile users cited freezing, crashing, slow launches, not launching, and not living up to expectations as their reasons for abandonment. Hook your users with a clean and fluid onboarding experience to make sure they keep coming back to your app.

Here are examples from three successful apps on the little things they do to make a top-notch onboarding experience.

Move Your Users Forward

IFTTT (If This Then That) helps you create “recipes” to streamline workflows and automate your channels. For example, you can create a recipe to automatically save starred emails to a list in Evernote, or automatically keep your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures in sync.

app email automation
User Onboard

IFTTT does a great job showing users how to use their app from the beginning. From the first open, it clearly communicates its value proposition and helps first-time users move through the motions to create their first recipe and engage with the app.

onboarding app

User Onboard

When users first hit the home screen, IFTTT tells you where you are and what you can expect to see on the feed. Since this app relies on user-generated recipes, there’s nothing to show yet, but instead of showing a blank feed, IFTTT explains the empty state and adds a clear call to action to move the user to the next step (adding recipes).

When you follow the steps to create your first recipe, instead of hitting a blank slate (which could be disorienting for new users), IFTTT showcases collections and recommendations to help you hit the ground running.

mobile onboarding

User Onboard

Moving right along, every button and action along the way clearly communicates what is about to happen. Generic copy like “Next” or “Continue” may indicate the next step forward, but IFTTT’s “Add” button uses familiar language (as we saw earlier in their CTA to “Add recipes”) so the user knows exactly what comes next.

Engage Users with Your Core Product Immediately

The Quartz app is essentially a chatbot that keeps you updated on the latest news. When you open the app for the first time, there are no introduction screens, videos, or tours to teach you how to use the product. Instead, the app uses itself to teach users how to use the product. It shows rather than tells. Lengthy tutorials can be disorienting to a new user that is unfamiliar with the orientation of your app, but dropping a first-time user right into the heart of what your app does is a great way to showcase your value right out of the gates.

User Onboard

After a quick tutorial explaining how the app works and explaining the layout and function of it, Quartz transitions users from the tutorial stage to the “real app” stage — and you hardly even notice the change.

onboarding screens
User Onboard

Apps that are more complicated or have deeper functionality than Quartz may have to spend more timing explaining your core product, but the takeaway here is that users should be able to engage with your app’s value and function without jumping through hoops.

User Onboard

Motivate Users with “Why” and “How”

Waze is a community-based navigation and traffic app.

ios onboarding examples
User Onboard

It uses community and working toward a common cause to encourage app participation and engagement. Its core value prop is outsmarting traffic, and it uses baby steps along the way to help users reach and contribute to that end.

User Onboard

Typical onboarding tasks, such as completing sign up forms, granting permissions access, or following tutorial steps, are necessary, but can be tedious. Framing these steps in the context of your app’s overall mission and purpose makes each part of the process easier to complete and encourages a happy and motivated user to reach the finish line.

User Onboard

Waze also relies heavily on community participation and encourages Wazers to help each other out. It motivates drivers by using a progression system of goals — much like a personal trainer. In-app action results in points and levels gained so that Wazers can see their achievements, how their engagement benefits the community, and how using Waze improves the user’s driving and navigation.

User Onboard

How You Can Employ These Best Practices in Your App

In sum, three tips from apps with great onboarding experiences:

  • Use UI/UX design to move your users through a seamless process
  • Design onboarding to engage users with your core product immediately
  • Provide context for micro activities with a macro vision to communicate value and purpose

If you’re intimidated about how to begin creating (or improving) your onboarding process, A/B test your UX to iterate and improve. If you’re unsure which CTA or button design will lead to most conversions, A/B test multiple versions to find out what works best. Using an App Editor allows you to make changes on-the-fly without App Store resubmissions.

Additionally, for more examples of what makes a great onboarding experience, User Onboard is an excellent resource for finding examples of what to do (and what not to do) during onboarding.

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