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Remember that the best way to build a long term relationship with your customers is to give them a wonderful onboarding experience. Users have the habit of disengaging with a particular app within 30 seconds of usage, thus, a developer has a very limited time to enrich those 30 seconds into a memorable user experience and engagement.

What would be the steps that you should follow to convince your users to stay hooked to your app?

What is mobile app onboarding?

Consider onboarding as the business card of a mobile app – it is the first impression that the users feel after using your app. Since we all know that first impressions matter the most, and stays with people for a lifetime, the mobile app developer must try and make this memorable for use. Of course to achieve this, you will have to clearly outline the main functions of the application, what solutions it provides to which specific problems, and other details that will help the users understand the basics of the app.

Statistics say that as many as 77% users lose interest in the apps right after 3 days of usage, causing wastage of all the money that has been put into advertisement and development. Thus onboarding becomes an essential experience to increase user retentivity.

mobile app onboarding

Best practices for building effective onboarding

There has to be one clear realization – onboarding of the app starts as soon the app is in the app stores, as soon as the user comes across the app, and starts getting familiar with it, begins the journey. This is why the process must be compelling, intuitive and gripping. These tips might help enhance that experience:

Setting a goal: this is an important point as the developer and the marketer should know what to expect. The onboardings could be didactic or may be in the form of a conversation, but one should know what to expect from the outcome.

Types of onboarding: there are two different types to it, which are static and dynamic. Static ones are monotonous, while dynamic ones are attention grappling.

Determine the number of screenshots: this is for an extensive onboarding experience, and one should have a minimum of 5 screenshots for the visuals.

Creating an interactive tour: you must learn how to walk the user through the experience. This helps to increase retention massively. Users love an interactive atmosphere, where they would want to learn how things work in your app. The tour should be didactic or conversational, where in there is maximum user engagement, that will help the users understand your app idea better. Most of the cases, if it clicks, the user is yours forever!

Describe the actions clearly: this is yet another effective policy. Your user must be able to identify the benefits clearly. Why should a user choose your app above all else? There has to be something that would make the user choose your app – make sure you enlist that reason for him or her.

Direct the user: you might need your user to follow a particular guide, for that you can simply educate your user which track to follow, so that they work in that desired track. This way, your users remain engaged to the app flow.

Take this opportunity to encourage the user: screens without any information are the best way to guide your user. These are the empty states and you can simply ask your user to take any action, and then use that prompt to guide them. Sounds better than the traditional instructions? Instagram uses this technique, and it has worked quite well for them!

Take this opportunity to encourage the user

Branding your app: yet another important act to popularize your app. Not all people will intuitively know about your app. That is simply not possible – you might need to tell people about it. Advertising and branding are two great strategies that you could take up to popularize the application. Get in your logo, icons, colours, typography all arranged, so that people relate your app to a particular feeling. This way people remember your app and associate it with a particular brand.

Try out gamification: you might want to show a spoiler to your users and try to popularize your app. This gives the user a basic idea of what he can do with the app. This of course banks on the curiosity of the user, and hence makes user retention easier. Increase other forms of gamification like statistics, prizes challenges and more.

Also make sure to provide the option to skip the onboarding: there are a lot of users who find the entire process absolutely irritation, and they would rather figure things out by themselves. For them, please remember to include a skip button.

Communicate your success to the users: celebrate together with your users, that way, they will also be able to relate to you. Remember that your users need to constantly remember you, else they may start thinking of other alternative apps. Give them the opportunity to bond with you, and use this as a process of branding. This would of course increase the chances of you increasing the user retentivity. For example Gmail uses its success stories for its branding – which can be easily adopted and used.

Test and measure: test all the different kinds of messages that you will be generating, and monitor the onboarding flow as many times as possible. If there are glitches in this part, then what happens is that the users are no longer interested. You might need to change factors about it, allow it to adapt, little by little.

It is very important to plan the onboarding according to the user interface. Remember that this experience is for your users, so you should curate it accordingly. If the onboarding is effective, your users will definitely return to your app, and the retention will rapidly increase. However on the contrary if you have not succeeded on the onboarding, there are high chances that people will not respond to your app appropriately. It all depends on what you can make out of the onboarding!


Mahabir is the founder and CEO of iWebServices. He specializes in guiding startups, enterprises, and Fortune 500 companies through their digital transformation journeys. Under his leadership, the company has developed over 1300 digital products, including mobile apps, SaaS platforms, and advanced AI and blockchain solutions. Mahabir's passion for technology, adaptability to emerging tech trends, and visionary leadership qualities have positioned him as an influential figure in the pursuit of digital product investment.


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