According to one report, 20% of users abandon an app after using it just once.

That’s an alarming statistic for app developers and businesses developing a custom app for their organisations, as once a user has taken the decision to uninstall an app, it’s unlikely they’re going to be back in a hurry.

Simply put, first impressions have never been so important.

When developing an app for your business, it’s easy to assume that users will automatically know how to interact with your tools and functions, but that isn’t always the case.

In fact, if your app is difficult to navigate or is not properly explained during sign-up, users might think it’s not for them and give up before they’ve even had a chance to properly use it.

That’s why user onboarding is so important.

You wouldn’t expect a pilot to walk into a cockpit and fly a 737 with no training, so why would you expect users to understand how everything works inside of your app or software from day one?

Through onboarding (carefully designed instructions, easing users into your app experience), you can increase app engagement and reduce abandonment – because, let’s face it, developing an app can’t be done on the cheap!

Below, we’ve put together some user experience techniques to improve onboarding and increase the effectiveness and ‘stickiness’ of your new app or software. Read on for more…


Choose the right onboarding technique

Whether you’re onboarding users to an app or a website, finding the right onboarding strategy should be a priority.

Choosing which technique depends on a whole host of factors, including the nature of your software, your average user’s prior knowledge, and your sales and marketing strategies.

We recommend trying one of the following three techniques first:

  • Card-based: Once a user opens your app or software for the first time, they’ll be presented with a few screens or cards to outline basic functionality. Developers use this technique as it’s cheap, static, and can serve as a ‘welcome mat’ that gives users a quick introduction, without bombarding them with information on their first visit.
  • Tooltips: Another common onboarding technique is letting users dive in right away, and using tooltips and coach marks to draw attention to some of the app’s interactive features. These are particularly useful when onboarding users to complex software, but you should be careful not to overdo prompts as users could find it overwhelming.
  • Guided tasks: Another common onboarding technique is guided tasks. Developers encourage users to complete a series of steps to progress and unlock or gain access to the app. It’s a great way to encourage users to familiarise themselves with an app and push them through onboarding rather than leaving them to their own devices, though a Skip button should be available for those reinstalling on a new phone.

Which is the right onboarding technique for your app?

As is always the case in the world of app development and conversion rate optimisation, there is no hard or fast answer to this question, and both careful consideration and A/B testing can help you to find the answer.


Understand what your users want

The chances are that your app developer has created a bunch of personas they’re designing for, so refer back to those when developing an onboarding to experience and decide what would make sense to them.

If developing a B2B app for technically-minded, then there’s the expectation of some shared knowledge – your average user will probably know that they can swipe left to view your sidebar menu, and hard press to activate additional functionality.

Tailoring the user onboarding experience to your target market may take time, and you may even decide to develop more than one onboarding experience depending on experience level.

If you’re porting your desktop software to the mobile, for example, you could allow existing users of the desktop software to skip the basic functionality onboarding when they open your app, whilst newcomers can be shown every onboarding tutorial and video guide.

If your app is already in the wild, then rely on metrics to determine areas of improvement in your onboarding process. If app abandonment peaks at a specific point in your tutorial, for instance, then you’ll need to check in with users and make changes to improve the flow.


Make sure they understand the value of your app

Onboarding is about much more than showing users how your app or software works – it’s about giving them a reason not to uninstall or click back to their home screen.

Communicate your core proposition in your onboarding process – the biggest benefits of your app, how it will enhance their day-to-day lives, how personalisation can make it even better.

You may decide to ask users questions to better serve their needs and personalise their user experience, or you could even include tappable case studies that provide more insights for specific use cases. Just remember to think of the flow and be consistent with your approach.


Make it as quick as possible

Your users are busy people and probably have more important things they could be getting on with. Make your onboarding snappy and respect their time.

If you include endless slides packed with information and instructions, users will become bored, frustrated, and tired.

In some cases, you may even intimidate and confuse users, so streamlining the operation will increase engagement and reduce abandonment.

Try to think of user onboarding as a quick hello and a walk around the office rather than a training course – you want to provide guidance and dip into some of the app’s important features, but you don’t want it to drag.


Allow users to repeat the onboarding

As well as giving users the option of skipping through your walkthroughs, implement a method of returning to your onboarding process should they need a gentle reminder.

Users might download your app and use it once, then in six months forget how everything works. Being able to both answer specific questions (for example, how do I view my account details in this app?) and walk users through your entire app will give them confidence in your product and make them more likely to stick around when they return – adding a help section to your navigation will serve as the first point of call, where onboarding can then be repeated.


Don’t be nosy

Whilst it’s nice to ask users to hand over information so you can personalise their experience and hold onto their data for future marketing activities, onboarding should be straightforward and require little input.

What’s more, as privacy is becoming more and more important in the digital world, users may not want to hand over personal information on an app they’ve never used before, so focus on winning their attention and trust before they give you their email.

For example, if you open an app for the first time and you’re bombarded with pop-ups asking for access your camera, microphone, and notification requests, you’re going to be pretty annoyed – and might even delete the app immediately.

If those features are necessary for your app, bake requests into the onboarding process and don’t overwhelm users the second they launch, or bounce rates will balloon.


Wrapping up

Onboarding users to a new app or website should be done sensitively and efficiently.

Be mindful of privacy, time, and prior knowledge, and always test and tweak your approach to increase engagement and improve user experience.

If you’re looking for help, don’t hesitate to reach out to the app development experts here at Zudu. Give us a call on 01382 690080.

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