Face it! Your great app without any user onboarding sucks as much as an aeroplane with a ladder to onboard travellers. It doesn’t matter if you are travelling in first class or economy, you are going to be pissed climbing that ladder to reach your seat.
Majority of mobile apps have no onboarding process in place. In fact, most of the app owners have no prior understanding of why they should have an onboarding process. Even if they know about it, they don’t do it right.
Onboarding is a process that just doesn’t end when users signup to your app. It continues long after that. If you don’t have a product manager or an experienced designer to look after onboarding, here’s couple of things you should’ve in your app for the best onboarding experience.
Optimize Sign up/Sign in forms
Designing mobile forms is a field where very little has been known about what works and what doesn’t. A few companies like Instagram nails the signup pretty nicely.They validate each field as you enter information, and they do it in a way that feels intuitive. [Update] They have updated their signup process, but here’s what the old one looked like:
Image source: Sitepoint
If you wish to learn more about how you can optimize your forms for better user experience, consider following Luke Wroblewski. He’s one of the few people who are real experts on form designs.
A walkthrough of your app
It is nice to tell users how to use your app. These small things often make the big difference. I would recommend doing that after every update(Whenever applicable).
Make sure they are engaged
I love Pinterest and Twitter for their onboarding process. They both will make sure that your users are engaged even before you are done taking entire information. To engage a user in a social app, it is good to show them the important features, what’s happening, who’s here, etc. It all helps generating a spark which keeps your user interested in the application.
When you sign up on Twitter or Pinterest, they ask you to follow certain people or boards. Following them instantly makes you realize benefits of that app and also makes you feel involved. I remember when I signed up on Twitter, the first guy that grabbed my attention was DrYumYumSingh. The handle was so funny that it made an instant connection with my own internal mental model.
Don’t let your user go!
I am not pro spam, but one should learn how to retain your users. A friend of mine owns a SaaS based company, and I did once sign up for his service. I have not used his software for more than a year now and even while they are just a startup, they never once bothered to send up an email to check why I never used it again.
I will mention Twitter here once again – When you go missing for sometime, they will show you the value either in form of an email delivered to your inbox or a push notification that tells you about your network updates.
These are just some of the few things you can do to have a good onboarding experience. Design is contextual, and you need to understand what works and what doesn’t work for your situation.