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Because of the rising cost of user acquisition on mobile apps, retaining users is more important than ever.
The problem is that 80-90% of apps are deleted after being used once.
If users don’t understand how to use your app, they won’t use it.
To make sure your users don’t delete your app after one use, you need to successfully onboard them. That means helping them get their bearings, teaching them how to complete key tasks, and making them want to come back for more.
In this article, we’ll walk through six different patterns for user onboarding.
Note: some of the most successful apps use a combination of these techniques to make sure their users don’t miss out on any crucial learning moments in their first-time user experience (FTUE).
What they are: A series of interstitial screens that appear when the user opens the app, explaining its purpose and features.
Source: UX Archive
Keep it to a few quick screens. 3-4 tends to work well.
Use your visual design elements strategically to set their expectations of your brand. This is your opportunity to make an awesome first impression.
Use benefits-driven language rather than just explaining features. Remind them of how this app will make them a happier, better, more successful version of themselves.
Try to use as little copy as possible. (Remember, users tend to scan and then forget longer chunks of copy.)
Make it clear that the only thing the user needs to do is swipe to the next coach screen.
What they are: Hands-on walkthroughs that guide users through the key features and functions of the app, allowing them to learn new actions as they go.
Leave an option for users to skip the tutorial if they want to go straight into the app. To make sure that users who choose to skip the tutorial don’t get lost, incorporate other tactics, like a prominent help menu or tooltips, to provide broad guidance.
Make sure it’s easy for users to undo actions in case they make mistakes.
Focus the tutorial on the most important and common actions users will take—don’t try to cover every single feature.
Don’t overwhelm users with too much copy. Try to keep it extremely concise while still clear.
What they are: Overlays or callouts that appear in certain parts of the user workflow, containing helpful hints about less intuitive features.
This tooltip appears after you record your first video clip in Vine.
Timing is everything. An appropriately placed tooltip can provide crucial information at the exact moment the user needs it. Make sure to user test the first-time user experience so you understand what questions users have—and when.
Keep it to one tip at a time so you don’t overwhelm users with too much new information.
Make sure users have the option to close or hide tooltips if they don’t want to interact with them.
What they are: Visual indicators of how close the user is to completing their onboarding process.
This progress bar shows the user how far along they are in the introductory questions of the onboarding flow.
Make sure each step in the progress bar drives the user to achieve a specific goal, and that goal is actually useful to the user.
Choose a small enough number of steps that each step shows visible progress on the bar. A jump 50% to 52% is not as encouraging as a jump from 50% to 75%.
Add an ideal time frame for completion so users will pace their progress appropriately.
What they are: A series of emails you send to new users to help them learn more about your product.
I got this helpful message on picking the right music station as part of a series of onboarding emails from Focus@Will.
Don’t rely exclusively on email to onboard users. It should be a supplement to in-app onboarding techniques because some users may never read the emails.
Plan out your email flow in advance and pay special attention to the cadence and length of the series. Match your email frequency with the amount of time it will take users to learn the lesson and become ready for the next one.
Identify parts of your product that are particularly difficult or confusing to users, and use your emails to help them resolve those problems.
What they are: Brief videos that give users the tour of the product and demonstrate certain workflows.
Asana offers really good, thorough training videos on their help center.
Don’t try to accomplish everything with one video. Let users cherry-pick which lessons they want to watch. Long, exhaustive videos will wear users out, and they’ll be more likely to forget key information.
Videos shouldn’t be the only way for users to learn their way around your product, and they shouldn’t be a substitute for intuitive interface design.
Don't forget to make your videos mobile-friendly so users don't have to switch devices!
What seems obvious to you may not be obvious to your first-time users. That’s why it’s so important to collect (and listen to) feedback and find out where users get confused in the FTUE.
If you want to make sure your interactive tutorial contains all the right information, run a few quick user tests and see if users understand what to do after they complete it.
If you send a series of email lessons, read the replies. You’ll get to see what questions people are asking and build empathy for the user.
Whatever you do, use this feedback to improve your onboarding experience on an ongoing basis.
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