Onboarding Mobile App

The Ultimate Guide for Onboarding Users on Your Mobile App

They say “First impression is the last impression”. While it may not entirely hold true in today’s world, it certainly does in the mobile app industry.


Let’s take a moment to remember all those apps you installed on your smartphone and never used more than once or twice. The apps that probably caught your interest enough to install but are never going to be touched again until the day you need to “free up space” on your phone. Chances are that the first time user experience (FTUE) with most of these apps, if not all, didn’t go down too well with you. If you are reading this, you’re probably trying to prevent that happening to your app. After all, you spent a lot of your time and energy developing it.


All the hard work you put in on development and marketing have been appreciated. Your install rate is rising. But does that make your app successful? Not really. The number of users who installed your app matters but doesn’t necessarily say much about your success. What really matters is the ratio between number of installs and active users. This is where onboarding plays an important role. If you let your users be, after installing your app, because your app is so “easy to understand”, you’re probably going to regret it. Your app maybe simple but you need to guide them, get them onboard and make sure they know what to do.


Everything that happens from the moment a user launches your app for the first time is critical. That is why there is a pressing need to make the onboarding experience for the users as seamless as possible. There’s no fixed formula for a FTUE that’s guaranteed to be a success. You have to experiment with different ideas and measure their results to get that first impression spot on.

Key Elements Of The On-Boarding Experience

1. Focus on your value proposition. Keep it simple. It is imperative that the user knows exactly what services you’re offering and how you’re making their lives easier.

Move on to the functionality but remember, first-time users need guidance, not information overload. Too much text can be a big turn off for first-time app users. Help the user remain focused throughout the process and give them the ability to opt out of the onboarding at any given point during the process.

2. Take the “learn by doing” approach. Don’t just assume users know, no matter how simple the process is. Do not make them read lengthy explanations, which is the worst way to make them learn. Show them the steps of the process and wherever possible, get them to do it. Immerse the users in an interactive app experience right from the start. This allows the user to get familiar with the gestures/processes they need to learn, flow seamlessly into the app experience and eventually, become active users.

3. Optimise the tricky sign-up screen. This fateful screen can either make or break your app and consequently, your relationship with the user. If this screen is not optimised, chances are that the user will never return to your app again. Optimising the way users create an account can make a big difference in improving the user engagement and retention rates. The objective here is to collect the users’ information in a seamless manner and move them on to the next step before they become frustrated, distracted or disengaged.

To avoid leaving the users frustrated, ensure that your sign-up form is not too long and don’t ask the user to sign-up without conveying the value proposition first (timing is important).Some users shy away from sharing their personal information with online apps and websites, and understandably so. To tackle this problem, be as transparent as possible about the information you’re asking for, tell them why you need it. It helps build credibility. If it’s not possible to be completely transparent about a certain question, make it optional in the process. Giving the users the added functionality of social sign-ups, a feature which is readily available in mobile app builders like Instappy, is an effective way of converting prospects to confirmed sign-ups.

4. Use a tracker to indicate progress. You don’t want the process to seem endless and leave the user annoyed. Make it seem manageable by showing progress with each step by showing the users how far they have advanced and how many screens are remaining. Showing this “light at the end of the tunnel” encourages the user to follow through the process.

5. Make learning an ongoing process. Trying to convey every single bit of information that the user needs to know in the onboarding process is a bad idea. Start with the basics and as users continue to engage with your app, gradually bring in new information about advanced functionalities and features. Re-inforce what’s already been conveyed and encourage users to dig deeper into the app and learn more.


Does any of this mean you should explain everything to the users like they’re 5 years old? No. Does it mean you should cut down on some features to keep your app as simple as possible? NO.

It simply takes a holistic approach to get the users to understand your app better and consequently, retain them. If you don’t effectively guide your users through the onboarding process, you’re probably going to end up losing customers. Especially in the case of retail and catalogue apps since there is such heavy competition.

So if you want your app to do more than just gather dust and take up screen estate on your users’ phone, make sure you make a lasting first impression.

How To Create Your Own App

Don't miss a single post! Subscribe to our RSS feed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *