Product Design

How to Onboard: Four Tips for UX Designers

Onboarding may seem simple, but when it’s poorly executed it can lead to half of users abandoning an app. Think back to the last time you downloaded an app. Do you remember the onboarding instructions? Did you have a feeling of being better prepared to use the app? If you’re like most users, the answer to both of these questions is no.

Our UX team has come up with some tips we hope you’ll find helpful on how to onboard users to your app without leaving them frustrated.

Leave Advertising In The Store

If someone takes the time to download your app they are probably already familiar with it on some level, whether from learning about the app through your website, an advertisement, or the description and screenshots in the app store. At this point, the time for selling someone on your app has passed and it’s time to get users to sign up or log in.

Many people have a hard time convincing their superiors to remove a sales pitch from an app. If you find yourself in this situation, make the sales pitch part of the login area so users can immediately register or sign in instead of being forced to continue through the app’s highlights first (which frequently leads to user frustration and app abandonment).

Let Them In ASAP

Registering takes time. Depending on the type of app you’re creating, it may require a username, password, birthdate, location…the list goes on. And while designing a seamless registration experience is not the same as designing forms that convert , one of the ideas behind good form design (i.e. getting users through the form input process quickly) should also be kept in mind when leading users into your app for the first time. You want to get them into your app quickly so they can begin to explore it. blog-post-image 2 JD Google Photos blocks users from entering the app until onboarding is done, however, all areas explained are easily discovered in the app itself.

Mario creators, Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka , encourage letting users explore. Allow users to discover features at their own pace, it’s ok to let them do this. They may have more delightful moments through self-discovery than through you highlighting everything for them all at once. Onboarding, exciting features without discovery is like telling the punchline before the joke.

Keep It Simple

If you’re thinking, “But wait…I have 10 mind-blowing new functions that have never been done before - no one will know how to use the app,” you’re probably making something more complex than needed, or not allowing for a fallback if users don’t know what to do.

Focus on simplifying the interface or providing users with hints for interactions. Tinder is one of the most well-known apps that uses swiping as a core function. If a user doesn’t know to swipe, they can always tap the heart or x icons in the app (both clear indications of action). Later on, when that user discovers swiping for the first time, it can be a delight moment that wouldn’t have occurred if swiping been explained beforehand. blog-post-image 3 JD Tinder brings out the core action to the forefront while  swiping is a hidden delight for users to discover on their own.

Onboard With Context

When onboarding is necessary for an app, provide it contextually. Twitter added a new “Moments” feature last year but they did not interrupt every user as soon as they opened the app. Instead, they allowed users to discover the new tab at the bottom of their screens on their own and then began onboarding users to the new section. Twitter provided context into what a user would be doing immediately following discovery of the new feature and avoided interrupting those users who may never use the function.

Educating your users is important, but so is keeping their time and potential frustration levels in mind with regard to accessing your app. Next time you set up onboarding for a user, ask yourself questions like do I need this here? and, even better, how can I simplify this?

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