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In-App Engagement
In-App Stories

App Onboarding Best Practices: Key to Increase App Engagement

Deniz Taşyürek
November 28, 2022

Effective app onboarding is crucial for a successful app of any kind. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to keep users engaged in the long term, or even in the short term. Just consider the app onboarding statistics out there: 25% of users abandon apps following one use. On the other hand, retention rates go up by as much as 50% with strong app onboarding. If you want your app to excel, you need to implement good onboarding practices.

The following is a complete user onboarding guide, serving as a course on app onboarding 101. Here you’ll learn all about what app onboarding is, how you can develop an app onboarding strategy, and some new user onboarding tips to help guide your strategies.

What Is Mobile App Onboarding?

The app onboarding experience typically features mobile app onboarding screens that guide users on how to use an app’s various features. Successful user onboarding enables businesses to establish a strong connection with their user base. Additionally, they can help create a highly engaging and generally ideal app onboarding UX.

The best app onboarding screens will inform users about an app’s features and functions, enable users to signup and create a unique login, and use information collected from users to display notifications and continually provide users with a personalized experience. If your app onboarding experience meets these particular app onboarding goals, you’ll have a much better chance of encouraging long-term users.

Why Is App Onboarding Important for App Engagement?

Oftentimes, users who are new to an app may not know exactly how to go about using it. Some apps might feature a more familiar app onboarding screen design that users can easily navigate, while others may be a little unusual and less clear on initial use. Apps with great onboarding for first-time users will deliver a positive experience that’s more likely to keep users coming back to your app.

By spending time and energy on creating an effective mobile user onboarding experience, you’ll prevent first-time users from veering away from your app due to confusion or frustration. A good app onboarding experience also helps simplify app use, preventing people from losing interest in an app due to a complex or drawn-out user onboarding process. If people don’t find your app to be a pain and your user onboarding solutions actively keep them engaged, you’ll be able to significantly boost user retention.

As you develop your app onboarding UI, you need to take certain steps to ensure you’re truly helping new users.

Mobile App User Onboarding Best Practices

If you want to make sure that users continue to use your app long after the first time they load it, there are some crucial user onboarding best practices to implement. Here we’ll review some of these if you want to learn how to onboard users and keep them loyal.

1) Simplify the Signup Process

One key issue that can keep users from continuing past the first app onboarding screen is a difficult signup process. Always keep this simple and enable users to easily create login credentials. If possible, allow users to sign up via social media apps, which can make the signup process even more efficient. The sooner users can get into your app, the less likely they are to turn away from the start. Once people get through that first gate, you can begin leading them through the onboarding user journey.

2) Introduce Your App's Value

The next step of the new user onboarding process entails value proposition. Here you’ll want to make it clear what your app can do for users, from detailing ways in which it can improve their daily lives to showing how an app can provide hours of entertainment. The more the app establishes what value it brings, the more you’ll keep users engaged to continue the user onboarding process.

3) Don't Try to Say Everything at Once

In addition to the value your app offers, only highlight core features at the beginning. The last thing you should do is overwhelm new users during the app onboarding process with too much information. If your app goes into too much detail with features, particularly more obscure features that many users may not need, users are likely to grow bored or become lost. Ultimately, an overloaded app onboarding solution will probably deter rather than attract users. Keep things consistently simple from the start, and introduce new features or information as users continue to explore. This provides a much more natural user onboarding journey that informs rather than annoys.

4) Keep It Brief

Again, simple is best when onboarding new users. This goes for messaging. Don’t push long paragraphs of information or multiple pages of text through your app. If you feel that certain features and functions require more explanation, you can introduce tidbits gradually as users interact with them. You can also direct users to a website with additional information, which will provide a better platform for longer app onboarding tutorials. You can even create videos to explain things more in-depth. Regardless, try to keep the in-app experience simple but effective.

5) Offer Users an Option to Skip

Some users may be quicker to figure things out than others during the mobile user onboarding process. They may also not want to complete certain tasks at a particular time. If you’re providing information through the app that users already know or don’t care to know, always give them the option to skip. Many users may also prefer to learn about your app entirely on their own, so consider enabling them to skip the entire tutorial or signup process.

6) Show Users Their Progress in App Onboarding Flow

When going through the app onboarding process, users will also want to know where they are along the journey. If users suspect that they have many more steps to follow before getting into the app, this could cause them to drop it. Through app onboarding flows, you can indicate where people are and how much farther they have to go before completing the onboarding process. A couple of app onboarding examples include:

  • A series of screens requesting personal user data, with messages toward the end stating something like “You’re almost done!”
  • A progress bar that visualizes where customers are throughout the user onboarding journey

7) Use Animations Only if They Have a Function

You might be tempted to include in-app animations that attract and hold users’ attention, but animations can become more tedious than entertaining to view. This is especially true when taking users through the app onboarding experience. Knowing how to properly use animations in your app can mean the difference between discouraged and engaged users. Try to refrain from long and flashy animations, and only include them if they serve a particular function, such as animating a button or transitioning to the next app onboarding screen.

8) Ask for Permission Only if You Really Need It (And Always Reveal Why)

Developers may need to ask permission to collect certain pieces of information, but only ask if you truly need to ask. At the same time, you should disclose specifically why you need to ask. This can help maintain both compliance and transparency to avoid any potential legal repercussions while showing that you value users’ consent.

9) Keep It Accessible so Users Can Revisit

Your onboarding flow should also always remain accessible to users if they skip it at first or decide to revisit it later. Whether a user frequently opens your app or a user is returning to it for the first time after a period of disuse, users will likely want to check on their progress at some point when using your app.

10) Keep Onboarding Your Users as Long as Your App Evolves

Over time, your app is likely to undergo changes as you make updates and modifications. As your app evolves, feel free to extend the app onboarding experience for users to introduce them to new features or options. This will keep users in the know regarding your app and ensure they use those new features. Users will also appreciate the details, particularly if a feature is designed with them in mind. While onboarding at the start for new users is important, long-time users will also benefit from continued onboarding practices.

Why Should You Use In-App Stories for App Onboarding?

Storyly enables app owners to have mobile stories in their apps through a quick integration. These in-app stories can help you with increasing engagement and retention thanks to interactive components and the personalization feature. Besides, they are also great for creating a perfect app onboarding flow.

1) They offer a full-screen experience.

First things first, an onboarding experience needs to be immersive so that the user doesn’t get distracted and can totally focus on what the app introduces. In-app stories meet this requirement and deliver an immersive experience.

2) You can prepare custom onboarding scenarios.

The sky is the limit if you want to personalize the user journey on your app as much as possible. In-app stories offer an excellent opportunity to customize the onboarding flow. Let’s say you are A/B testing different texts and creatives on various user acquisition channels. Wouldn’t it be great to welcome new users with a custom message based on the value prop that drives them to the app?

3) You can create an interactive app onboarding flow with in-app stories.

When users take their first steps to your app, you might have crucial things that you need to tell them. But don’t forget that they might have something to tell you as well. You can allow them to do so by utilizing many interactives such as polls, quizzes, and emoji reactions, sliders, or bars.

4) It is possible to pin the onboarding story group for later uses.

Onboarding is not just for a moment. It needs to continue as long as the user needs it to do. With Storyly, you can create pinned story groups so that users can revisit whenever they wish.

5) You can maximize permission opt-ins by telling the story first.

It is more than significant to ask for access only to relevant user data, as we mentioned above. To convince users to give permission, you can always explain the story behind it, meaning why you need this access. As you can imagine, mobile stories are always great for this type of storytelling.

Final Thoughts

Keeping these and other app onboarding best practices in mind can help guide your user onboarding strategy, but it’s always important to remember that each app will have different requirements. Based on your app’s unique needs, some practices may be more ideal to implement than others. It all depends on the type of app you’re developing and the needs of its corresponding users.

Eventually, you’ll learn what works and what requires improvement to streamline the process. With a fully functional app onboarding UX, you’ll be able to retain more users and efficiently introduce them to your app. This can help make sure your app stands apart from many others with less user-friendly interfaces and overall experiences.

Want to learn more about how to create solid onboarding flows for your users? There are many ways to approach these app onboarding solutions. For more information, check out our articles on user onboarding lessons and apps with the best user onboarding flow to get you started. You can also contact us to learn more about how our app growth platform can fuel your app’s success.

Deniz Taşyürek

Content & Brand Marketing Strategist at Storyly. Writes about mobile user behavior, user engagement, and retention. A genuine Potterhead. She also loves succulents, cats, and aerial yoga.

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