The first time a user launches your app is your first opportunity to make a solid impression as a user experience designer. 

The app onboarding user experience is critical to help guide new users through the app for the first time. The onboarding process walks them through creating an account, setting necessary preferences, and deciding how they will engage moving forward. 

When we overlook onboarding in the journey mapping process, we can easily overwhelm users, leading to quick abandonment. 

When done well, however, your onboarding procedures can also be a powerful opportunity to create user ownership and avoid app abandonment. Here are five pointers to get you started on the road to a fantastic app onboarding experience. 

  1. Know Who is Using Your App
    The app onboarding experience for a kid’s game won’t be the same as the experience you have when opening up the app for your financial institution. The user won’t be the same, either. Use A/B testing and research to determine who is using your app, and tailor the experience to that demographic. Your user persona will also influence what kind of onboarding tools you use (like Feature Promotion, customization, and instruction), and at what point onboarding begins in the user flow. Knowing your user also helps you to determine what types of onboarding elements to use
  2. Don’t Get Too Personal
    You can think of app onboarding kind of like a first date. Maintain a light tone and avoid getting too intimate right away. Is it truly necessary to know the user’s birthday in order to kick-start their app experience, or can that information come later in the process after you’ve built trust? Hold off on getting too personal too quickly.
  3. Make it Quick
    What motivates you to download and test a new app? It’s likely you’re looking for an immediate answer to a problem you’re having. After seeing what appears to be the perfect app, the last thing you want to do is shuffle through 5 minutes of onboarding card decks. Users are looking for your help with a problem, and they want to find the solution right away. Is it possible for sections of the onboarding process to appear later in the user’s experience? Keep the process simple and quick. This brings us to number four…
  4. Have an Escape Route
    It’s essential to give users the opportunity to opt out of onboarding at any time. Setting up expectations with a clear flow and progress bar allows users to see how far in the onboarding process they are and lets them decide if they feel comfortable moving forward or if they need a little more guidance. Don’t frustrate your audience by making them go through actions they don’t find useful.
  5. Set it, But Don’t Forget It
    Your user’s experience shouldn’t be on autopilot. As you continue to update and innovate your app, you’ll need to tie in your onboarding process. Can you integrate subtle tips that will answer questions in real time without invading the user’s screen? Don’t expect users to remember everything from their initial onboarding. Be sure to include a process that allows them to refer to instructions whenever they need them.

Having a great app onboarding UX can increase your app’s usage and retention, as well as circumvent user abandonment. Your end users will feel valued by an efficient onboarding process that is customized to the experience they were looking for when they first clicked download.

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