As soon as the new app is launched, a trend emerges: after only a few minutes, the majority of users turn away from the product again. The idea and execution are solid, after all the product is well received. So what could be the reason that user loyalty is not working out? It is not unlikely that it is the onboarding process. But what exactly does onboarding mean and how can it be optimised?
What is App Onboarding?
The term onboarding describes a process that begins the moment a user clicks on "Register" and ends as soon as the user understands how the product works. As nebulous as the explanation sounds, the process can vary from app to app. Several elements play a role in onboarding, from the user interface (UI) to the user experience (UX) and customer support. Bad experiences along this route determine whether the user remains loyal to the app. It is therefore worth taking a close look at your own product in terms of onboarding.
App onboarding: the three most common mistakes
The goal of the onboarding process is to provide the user with enough information to make sense of the app, not to overload the user with knowledge. This is where many companies make mistakes, they want to give the user all the information immediately, before it is even relevant. An organic process of getting to know the user is better than going from zero to one hundred in one step at an accelerated pace.
How much data is actually important at the time of registration? If you ask your users for a lot of personal information right from the start, you will simply lose users. It makes more sense to ask for information on a voluntary basis and to do everything to ensure that users are happy to provide further information sooner or later.
Whether it be preset newsletters, email notifications or even registrations for other services, such surprising mass registrations can quickly spoil users' desire to use the new app. Let's take Google as a cautionary tale: while it used to be possible to create a new email account with a name and password, today the same action is used to register for a handful of other Google services, such as YouTube and Google+, at the same time. If users are already registered with these services, merging the accounts is a lengthy process.
How App Onboarding Works
If an email address is sufficient for registration, then no further data should be requested. It is even better if users can try out the app without registering.
No matter what benefit the new app promises, the user should be able to make use of it quickly and easily.
The app design should be as self-explanatory as possible. Splash screens, information videos and long tutorials are unpleasant hurdles for users. At most, a small hint on how to use the app should suffice; more is annoying. If the app offers many hidden features, it is worthwhile to show tutorials when the user clicks on these features for the first time. In this way, there is no information overload and the dialogue takes place exactly when the user is ready for it.
Links to social media are increasingly viewed critically, users should not be forced to link to their profiles on other services.
Test, test, test
Actually obvious, but it still needs to be explicitly mentioned: Practice makes perfect, also when it comes to app design and onboarding. So before final changes are made to the product, it is important to test diligently. User test groups provide the best feedback.