Building an app to a satisfactory and saleable standard is one thing, but you will have no doubt found that getting your app noticed in the app store is another mission entirely. Yes, clocking up those all-important downloads is something that is never to be taken too lightly. Months and months and hundreds if not thousands of pounds/dollars are ploughed mercilessly into your marketing efforts – and eventually, your app starts to gain some traction, and the downloads start taking off.
If only that was the end of it…
Beyond The Downloads
Sure, after all the work you’ve put in on marketing, you’ve managed to achieve a respectable amount of downloads – but how many of your brand new users have just used your app once or twice and then simply abandoned it forever more?
This is a very common occurrence, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you find it happening to you. Sometimes, when it comes to marketing our wares, we can often get so lost in our efforts to ensure that we acquire as many new users as possible, that it can be all too easy to lose sight of the fact we absolutely must ensure that those new users have an excellent first time experience when first launching our app.
The simple fact of the matter is that if we don’t manage to achieve this, then we’re losing people at only the second hurdle – and if you’ve produced a premium app which has to be paid for, then you can expect to receive quite a lot of negative feedback to boot. If it’s a free or freemium app, however, then you will be less likely to receive the negative feedback, but will nonetheless still lose a significant proportion of your active daily and monthly users (which could seriously impede the revenue of a freemium app).
No, when we first download an app, we have a lot of expectations that need to be met – and if they’re not, then we simply leave the app alone, eventually deleting it some time in the future when we need to free up some space for something better.
No 2 Apps Are Identical
No they’re not. But, when we fire up a new mobile application, we still expect to be able to navigate ourselves around all the various functions and features pretty easily. Indeed, this is one of our biggest expectations – that the app should be intuitive. The user interface (UI) must be familiar, even in a brand new app that we’ve never used before.
However, since this is a new app, you will of course have built in some cool, bespoke and absolutely unique functions, which your new users might need a little extra help getting to grips with. And this is where onboarding is either achieved… or not.
Of course, it will always pay to a certain extent to trust your audience. This is 2015 after all, and it’s safe to say that most of us are pretty internet and tech-savvy these days – especially those of us who like to check out the new mobile apps that are available to us hot off the app store.
However, you may still think that, in order for people to get the most out of your app, then they will need to be walked through some of its more ‘complicated’ or at least ‘unique’ features. However, you know as an app user yourself that not everybody will like this authorial intrusion. Indeed, as Nate Munger points out in a blog post for Inside Intercom:
“Some new users expect you to welcome them and show them around the place, while others prefer you to get out of their way as soon as possible and let them figure things out for themselves.”
The aim of the game, then, will be to get the balance just right. Though of course this – just like every other part of the app development and marketing process – is not an easy task. But, never fear, for below we have put together 3 super but simple tips that you can take away to help you improve the onboarding processes of your latest creation. Here they are…
3 Simple Tips To Improve Mobile App Onboarding
#1. Focus On The Value Of The Product
The first time your new users fire up your app, you of course need to explain the product clearly, cleanly and carefully. But, you need to be careful where your emphasis lies.
By this I mean that it is imperative that you focus on the value of your product, rather than how ‘cool’ or ‘exciting’ its features are. For one thing, this can’t be done by simply relying on the interface of the app to communicate its value, as a post by helpscout.net clearly explains:
“Getting users to figure out your product’s value by learning its interface is like getting people to follow a recipe when they don’t have the slightest idea what they’re cooking. You don’t start with instructions to knead dough and simmer sauce and hope it turns into a pizza—accomplishing anything of significance requires setting the proper context beforehand. In this case, that context is how much their lives will be improved with your product in it.”
It’s no good if the value of your app doesn’t become apparent to the user until the fourth or fifth time they’ve fired it up – this will simply be too late for a lot of people. Instead, you need to communicate the value of the app in no uncertain terms the moment that it’s first used.
Below is a screenshot from the introductory page sequence from the Evernote Food app – and the three core values of the app are made very clear. This is a great example of how to do it right:
(Image source: smashingmagazine.com)
#2. Make The Sign Up As Simple As Possible
A sign-up process of course won’t be necessary for every single app that gets created – however, when you do require your new users to sign up to your service, this needs to be made as simple as possible.
One of the great ways to achieve this is to offer social logins. Now, these may be expensive, but they will encourage more conversions. People these days have created enough profiles around the web already – what makes you think that they’re going to want to bother creating a brand new one just to start using your app?
So, a great method here is to enable your users to sign up with Facebook, Google, Twitter, or what have you. Social login is proven to be trusted and popular, and what’s more, it’s very handy. In a 2013 Blue Research report commissioned by Janrain, it was found that 92% of people have stopped using a site because they’ve forgotten their password – but social logins solve this problem almost entirely.
(Image source: blog.kiip.me)
If, however, you choose not to opt to use social logins, then at the very least you need to make the process as simple as possible. Don’t ask for too much information, and let users know how many steps are required for completion – being able to see the end of the process will encourage the modern impatient user to stick it out till they get there.
#3. Encourage Use Of The App
Ok, so now your new users understand the true value of your app, they have been gently guided through the sign up process, and now you need to encourage them to start using the app and enjoying the experience that you are providing through your creation.
You may well want to provide an optional tutorial at this stage. It’s important that users can ‘skip this step’ if they want to, as some people just like to be left to their own devices when figuring out how to use something new (though, crucially, make sure that the tutorial is easily accessible should they change their mind, or anyone wants to see it again).
However, your tutorial should only cover you app’s most useful functions – i.e. those that deliver the true value of your app – and shouldn’t be so intrusive as to cover every single little detail. Something like this from the magazine app Project is just too much:
(Image Source: elezea.com)
There’s far too much going on in this screen. It’s overwhelming, hard to read, and an overload of information to digest in a single sitting.
Just remember that sometimes less is more when it comes to user onboarding with your tutorials. Don’t let what you think is helpful information be too intrusive. For a start, your app should be intuitive enough not to have to go into so much detail in the first place, but for those bits that you really feel must be explained, just keep things simple, and trust your user.
Do you have any further onboarding tips for our readers? Let us know in the comments below.