Why Mobile App Onboarding is a Central Component of UX Design

Why Mobile App Onboarding is a Central Component of UX Design

This article will examine how implementing proper mobile app onboarding sequences into your app not only enhances the UX but also helps build confidence and trust with your users, fostering conversion

By: Lohit Sharma | 4 mins read
Published: Aug 5, 2020 12:20:28 PM | Updated: Jul 10, 2024 12:47:58 PM

A major part of mobile app development focuses on designing a user experience (UX) that is intuitive and leaves users feeling satisfied with the overall interaction. However, designers often forget that while conducting research, mapping flows, and testing interfaces, users haven't. Months of designing UX and UI may be for nothing if your users don't know how to use your app. This is where onboarding UX design comes into play. 

For many users, initial interactions with newly downloaded apps are not all positive. Instead, feelings of confusion and frustration set in because they have difficulty navigating the app. At this stage of the user journey, negative sentiments can impact a user's willingness to use the app in the future. 

Onboarding aims to provide users with the necessary knowledge required to utilize a mobile product to its fullest potential. By incorporating a carefully designed onboarding process to your app, you save your user from the negative feelings of confusion and frustration – potentially saving your app from being uninstalled. This involves optimizing your website or app for mobile devices as well to ensure a smooth user-experience across different devices.

This article will examine how implementing proper onboarding sequences into your app not only enhances the UX but also helps build confidence and trust with your users, fostering conversions, and ongoing user engagement for your business.


What is Onboarding

User onboarding is a designed series of instructions or interactions that help the user ease into the app's experience. These interactions can be as simple as a greeting or as complex as a series of guided tasks that help users set up initial preferences or point out critical UI elements. The goal is to provide users with an overview of your product's benefits, ultimately getting them excited and setting them up for success. If you've ever opened up a new app for the first time and were presented with 2-3 screens with short messages explaining what the app is for, it's more than likely that you felt more familiar with what to expect before you even began using the product. This is the key to providing a positive UX. 


Types of Onboarding 


Benefits-Oriented Onboarding

This type of onboarding showcases the app's value to the user, intending to encourage conversion. Rather than focusing on how to use the app, this approach to onboarding focuses on what the app does. This type of onboarding often includes screens dedicated to permission requests, such as accessing location and sending push notifications.

Function-Oriented Onboarding 

This approach focuses on app functionality by teaching the user how to use the app. The user will get a tour of the app with specific instructions on how to get started and how to perform certain actions.

Progressive Onboarding

Progressive onboarding shows users new information as they gradually navigate through the app. The instructions displayed on the screen relate to a specific page the user is on, allowing them to learn each function as they explore the app.


To learn more about which onboarding approach is right for your app, click here


Why Onboarding Leads to Better User Experience

We’ve written extensively about UX and the important role it plays in the success of your app. The startling truth is that 25 percent of users stop using an app just after one use. If an app takes too long to figure out, users drop it. A user needs to find the immediate value in an app if they are going to continue using it, they also need to feel confident in using the product and have confidence it will help them achieve a specific goal. This is why it is so important to make a positive first impression. Here are three ways effective user onboarding creates a positive first-time UX. 

Seamless Transition

Onboarding enhances the overall UX of an app by offering familiarity. As your first touch-point with a user, onboarding allows you to provide them with a rundown of everything they need. This is where you familiarize them with all of the standard practices and how to achieve specific functions. Just as someone would on day one of a new job. By becoming familiar with the features, you ensure the user has a smooth transition from being a new user to a pro. They can now effectively use the app to achieve the tasks they want, unmistakably making them feel confident in using your product. It's human nature to revert to what is familiar to us, by making the functions of your app familiar, you increase the chances a user will choose your app over another to complete a task. For this, a function-oriented style of onboarding is best.

Find Immediate Value

Successful mobile apps all have one thing in common: they benefit users. Creating an amazing UX involves developing an extensive understanding of the target users' lives and unmet needs. Once users download an app, they need to see the immediate value in using it. How will this app help them fulfill their needs? Using the benefits-oriented onboarding method, you easily demonstrate what the app does and what the user stands to gain from using it. If users see the value in the product they are using, they will more likely enjoy using it in the long run.  


Onboarding UX uses psychology to understand users’ goals and motivations so you can design an experience that helps them see how the product meets their needs. No one user is the same, and thus, app personalization is extremely important for each user to find value in your app. In many ways, onboarding can provide the personalization each user desires. Using progressive onboarding, ensures you don’t overwhelm the user with too many functions they aren't ready to use or won’t use. Instead, it presents new information as they gradually navigate through the app. The instructions relate to the specific page the user is on, allowing the user to learn as they explore the app. This results in the user only getting what they need out of the app.

Final Thoughts

Onboarding is all about understanding each users' individual journey toward reaching their goals and how your product can help them achieve their goals more efficiently. While implementing onboarding into your app strategy enhances the overall UX, The onboarding experience itself can't be subpar. Your onboarding UX needs to be well thought out and engaging on its own. A deep understanding of your target users' in-app behavior patterns or psychological underpinnings is required to achieve this.

Ultimately the end goal is to provide your users with a positive experience from the moment they download the app to the moment they achieve their first goal. Onboarding is just one cog in the wheel that can lead to a more positive experience. While the aim is to make sure the user is satisfied with the product, providing a positive experience also helps your business. Those who have positive interactions with an app are more likely to return, impacting key success metrics such as engagement, retention, and conversions.