The Importance of Onboarding Users in Your Mobile Apps

SnapChat's onboarding example.

SnapChat's onboarding example.

When launching a brand-new app it's extremely important that any developer practices the art of onboarding. Onboarding is otherwise known under the title of organizational socialization. This is a term that was born out of the idea of integrating a new employee into a company but it can also have merit in the idea of introducing a brand-new user to an application.

The key to a successful mobile app is to have a user regularly open it up and depend on using it. Just as you would have a new employee potentially be socialized into an environment, a new user has to be socialized to use the application you have developed.

By taking a focus into onboarding your users, you can make sure that your app has staying power by ensuring your customers not only see a need for your app but eventually become dependant on your app to access your service. With proper onboarding your downloads will go up, your recognition will go up and the goals you are trying to accomplish with your app will have a much better shot at being accomplished.

With around 90% of apps ever downloaded getting used once and then deleted, the competition is stiff. Creating an experience for your users and placing your energy into an onboarding technique that will make sure your app is opened twice, then three times, then every day is crucial.

One of the first places to start with onboarding is with the basic function of your application. Staying focused into exactly how it will add value to the life of a user and the way that it functions is often far better than design. Show the users how to use your app, give them a simple flow for the sign-up and tutorial process and consider giving them an option to opt out of the tutorial of your app as well. A great app that does just this is Tinder. There is a simple interface allowing users to sign into the account, they are taken to the profile page and guided through the process, then asked to swipe on matches, users can also skip this entire process if they have used the app before.

Giving your users the ability to learn by doing with your application is another great way to show them just how easy it is to use and how fun it can be. With Snapchat for example, one of the first things that the app asks you to do is to take a photo, caption it and send it out to your followers. This isn't a requirement but it allows users to see just how simple the functions are to use and to generally receive almost an immediate response from other users drawing them right back into the application again.

Logins can be another point of the onboarding experience that can be make or break a mobile app. If the user has to consistently login or doesn't have the option to use a social login or email login, they could very quickly delete it. Making the sign in process very quick on a smartphone and not constantly prompting someone for a login will make the process of opening your application much easier and make the functionality of using the app many times a day much more intriguing.

Through all of these introductions in onboarding it's also very important that you don't immediately turn your direction to sell or market. Making sure that you're taking people through the app and the functions of your app should always be the first step. Don’t immediately make someone watch an advertisement the second the app loads or have them spammed with banner ads when they open it up. Make sure the experience is unique in that your welcoming them in, not trying to get at their wallets.

Keep some of these ideas in mind as you are developing an application that remember that a focus on onboarding can give your app appeal and longevity.