Mobile App Onboarding: The Answer to Increased User Retention?

Oct 04, 2019

Vikrant Bhatia

Having excellent first experience while using an application is imperative for generating returns on an application in which a massive amount of resources have already been invested in.

Various startups and SMEs have entered the market solely based on an application idea. But these applications need to be intricately personalized for them to work. Just a download isn't enough to ensure that a user will come back to you. Statistics have shown that no matter what your industry, your engagement will only be around 4 % after 90 days.

This number is something that can only be different for your application only if you manage to create something that truly resonates with the audience you have decided to target. Today, however, we will be figuring out what exactly you can do to ensure that you manage to retain users beyond the download.

A good onboarding has the ability to increase the engagement for your application for up to 4x. So, you must create an onboarding experience that your users respond well to.

Make Your Process Easy

Your Onboarding needs to be as easy as possible for a new user. A new user should not feel intimidated when they reach your application. A user is bound to abandon your application if they find it complex and difficult to understand.

This at times can lead to you having to create a single page that grants easy access to the user for your application.

However, don't just create a single screen and expect it to work. This first screen is also a glimpse for the viewer to figure out what they are signing up for.

Benefits Oriented:

In this approach, you get to communicate the value addition you applications made in the user's life. This needs to be conveyed in the most concise and well-designed manner as possible.

Function Oriented:

Here you aren't talking about the benefits but rather the key functionalities of your application that make the app what it is. exercise a light hand in the functionalities that you want highlighting and choose the ones that are the most important for your user to know about.

Progressive Onboarding:

This is a process that uses the ability to create a guided interaction for the user. Mobile users have the ability to make their own decisions and use the mobile application. A guided interaction will make it easy for users to understand the functionality of the app through gesture-driven interactions.


This is a combination of different processes. It is a cross between the function-oriented and progressive Onboarding.

Optimize the Screens

When an application is opened and the first thing that a user sees is a lengthy form, it is bound to put them off continuing. On a mobile screen, it becomes even more important as the screens are smaller and too much scrolling would not be appreciated by a user. Ideally, try focusing all the log in formalities to one screen.

Figure out the information that is most important for you to collect as an application and focus on getting that. Do not clutter your first page with unnecessary fields.

Feedback Fun

Feedback is an important part of the user experience. Whether it be in the form of a micro-interaction or a popup slide. Feedback helps in validating the user's actions. They have also been proven to act as a positive reinforcement for the user after they complete the given set of instructions.

The feedback is important as in the absence of it the user will not understand what is happening and why. Error or success messages make it easier for a user to go through the app and navigate it without obvious guidance.

Guided Interaction = Progress

Mobile applications have become increasingly simple to navigate, with their backend becoming increasingly complex. As we try to simplify the user's experience we are adding on complex code to achieve it. Guided interactions are one of such things.

Guided interactions add an element of fun to the interface. It engages the users without acting as a hindrance in the experience, on the contrary, it heightens it. This is an increasingly popular way to help users navigate video games. Instead of a lengthy walkthrough that a user would have to sit through, now they play while learning the ropes of the game.

Animation Advantage

The animation should be used sparingly in an onboarding. Usually, it is used for either, giving feedback, pulling attention to the elements or showing the concept of space without jittering the user.

Even if you are using animation for a valid reason, ensure that it is subtle and does not irritate your user.

Test As Much As You Can

This is the first interaction that a user will have with your application and it must be pleasant enough that they want to stay. So, test this out with a much of a variety of audiences that you can. That feedback will help you tramline your experience and would act as a barrier between the success or failure of your application.

Pay attention to your onboarding. If the entrance doesn't resonate with users, chances are you would fail miserably in your endeavor to have a successful application. It is the little things that act as a difference between you and the overcrowded application market.

Vikrant Bhatia