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App Development
6 minutes read

Onboarding for Apps: What Your Organization Needs to Know 

By Jose Gomez
By Jose Gomez
App Development
6 minutes read

The app onboarding experience can be the difference between new users engaging with your organization’s mobile app and your mobile app sitting unused on the home screen, waiting to be deleted. 

App onboarding is critical to an app’s success. Yet, many organizations overlook the app onboarding process and don’t know app onboarding best practices. Mobile apps take a lot of time and money to develop, so user retention and app engagement should be a priority for your organization.

App onboarding is the first component of user retention and should show new users the app’s benefits and key features. This post will explain what app onboarding is, why it is vital to app success, the different ways to provide the onboarding journey, and cover app onboarding best practices from a design perspective. 

What Is the Mobile App Onboarding Process?

App onboarding is the process of introducing new users to your mobile app. The app onboarding process can include helping app users through the registration process, guiding new users through the app’s core features, and providing first-time users with vital information.

App onboarding is the first introduction most app users will have to your product. It is vital during the mobile app onboarding process to prove to new users that your mobile app is useful and valuable. 

After app onboarding, your user base should understand how this app will solve the challenges they face. In addition, by the end of the user onboarding process, users should understand your app’s navigation patterns, the basic functionality of the app, and the User Interface. 

The Importance of App Onboarding 

Why is mobile app onboarding important? The app onboarding process is vital to app retention. If users are not using your application, what purpose is it serving your organization? 

Did you know that for the average app, after three days, active users drop by 77 percent? Poor mobile app onboarding is not to blame in every case, but if you recognize that your app struggles to retain existing users, the onboarding process can likely be improved. 

Solid app onboarding drives conversions, increases in-app purchases, and motivates more users to pay for the application after getting a taste of the app experience offered by your product. 

A good app onboarding experience is used to convince users to stick with your product and service. User retention is one of the most important metrics for mobile apps to track and optimize, and app onboarding plays a significant role in the effort to retain users. 

App Onboarding Examples: Three Different Approaches 

The app onboarding flow doesn’t have to be the same for every app. In fact, there are three different approaches to the app onboarding flow that most products utilize. Let’s review each approach to the onboarding flow, including:

  • Benefits-oriented onboarding
  • Function-oriented onboarding 
  • Progressive onboarding 

Benefits-Oriented Onboarding 

The benefits-focused onboarding flow demonstrates the value of the app before all else. Instead of focusing on how to use the app, the benefits-oriented approach focuses on what the app can do. 

For example, if your organization has a language learning app, you might highlight real-time translation features or the variety of languages offered on the app. While you highlight core features, your app can also ask users to opt in or out of push notifications and other permissions. 

It is great to cover permission requests when highlighting the app’s capabilities because you can show users why it is crucial for them to accept permission requests and achieve full functionality. 

Function-Oriented Onboarding 

The function-focused onboarding flow demonstrates what an app can do and how users can do it. Function-focused onboarding flows show users how to execute common actions and where to start. These onboarding flows are essentially visual tours paired with interactive instructions.

For example, if your organization has a music video streaming app, a functional onboarding approach would demonstrate how to save, queue, pause, and share videos, among other actions. 

Learning how to use the app is critical to the onboarding experience for many applications. Teaching users how to get the most out of your application is a great way to ensure that they become engaged users.

Remember, while there are tech-savvy users, they are not the norm. Most people will need some guidance. You can guide users who need the onboarding process and allow savvy users to skip it. 

Progressive Onboarding 

The progressive onboarding process encourages users to explore the app and presents new features and information as users experience them. The primary goal of this mobile onboarding flow is to promote learning by doing. 

This type of onboarding flow is best suited for apps with intricate User Interfaces and hidden functionalities. The progressive flow is less overwhelming to users and allows them to explore at their own pace.

Your organization’s goal should be to optimize a user’s experience with your product. The progressive user onboarding approach gives users complete control over the mobile onboarding process. 

Onboarding Screens: Best Practices from a Design Perspective

Do you want to know how to design an onboarding flow that will simplify the signup process or boost user engagement? You can create better mobile onboarding flows by considering these best practices:

  • Allow users to skip – Many users want to jump right in and use the application they just downloaded. Your app’s onboarding process should be there if wanted, but also skippable if users want to just try it for themselves without guidance. 
  • Be upfront about data – If your app is going to collect and use customer data, let users know what data is being collected and why it is beneficial to the app’s performance. Your users should be able to opt-out of data collection even at the risk of worse performance. 
  • Share progress – Let users know how far they have come during the onboarding process and how much left they have to go. A simple graphic that illustrates the progress they have made can be beneficial, especially if the onboarding flow of your app is long.
  • Highlight core features – One of the first things you should show your users is the core features of your application. Don’t overwhelm them with every feature, but highlight two or three of the most important and be sure to include them in the onboarding flow. 

Final Thoughts 

App onboarding is a critical part of development that many organizations do not take seriously enough. With a poor onboarding experience, you risk driving users away from your application towards the competition. If you want to learn more about app onboarding best practices and tips, reach out to an experienced app development partner.

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