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10 Tips to Create An Effective Mobile User Onboarding Interface

Added 13th May 2021

In 2019, consumers downloaded 204 billion mobile apps, a 45% increase from 2016. This number doesn’t include reinstalls or app updates, so it’s clear that mobile app use is on the rise globally. This meteoric increase is why UI UX designers need to create the best possible user experience when it comes to mobile app onboarding. 

Retention rates increase by up to 50% when there’s effective mobile app onboarding. In contrast, 25% of users will abandon an app after a single-use. Ensuring that your app correctly shares its value with users is the key to user retention in the long run. 

As a product design agency, we’ve designed a fair number of user onboarding interfaces for desktop and mobile products. Today, we’re sharing some essential best practices that can help you improve user retention by designing a compelling mobile user onboarding interface. 

What is User Onboarding?

First, let’s talk about what user onboarding means. Simply put, it’s the way a new product or app demonstrates its value to new users. User onboarding was originally an HR term meant to welcome and help employees orient themselves in their new role. When it comes to web products and mobile apps, user onboarding refers to the user’s first experience when trying out a product. 

person using silver Android smartphone

Product tours, user tutorials, data customization, and information about features are included in user onboarding, a multi-channel and sometimes multi-stage process. When it comes to mobile apps, products have a short timespan to attract and engage users with swipe screens, tutorials, and important information while delivering their value proposition. 

Components of Mobile User Onboarding

Now that we understand the concept of user onboarding, let’s talk about what UI UX designers need to keep in mind when designing a mobile user onboarding interface:

1. User instructions

A user cannot get value out of your product if they don’t know how to use it in the first place. Ensuring that your user interface includes a learning curve that’s quick and easy will help your users learn more about how the product could benefit them faster. Making your instructions and tutorials optional, brief, and accessible is the key to keeping a user engaged as they interact with your product during the onboarding stage. 

2. Deck of cards

Like Instagram’s carousel posts, a deck of cards design allows users to flip through the ‘how-to-use product information quickly. Keep the information minimum, easy to understand, and include a skip option for those who want to move forward. 

3. Checklists

Interactive checklists are designed to guide the user as they navigate a tutorial or complete different tasks during the onboarding process. Help users go back to the checklists quickly to ensure they understand every aspect of the app and how to use it.

4. UI Overlays

Sharing information about using the product through UI overlays and coach marks can help users note where to find core functionalities within the app and how to use them. 

5. Interactive walkthroughs

Interactive walkthroughs are useful for complicated apps. They help the user navigate the product and teach them to use all the features and controls effectively. 

6. Feature promotion

Once your user has understood your app’s core functionalities, it’s time to take them through your innovative features. Feature promotion is an integral aspect of sharing the different ways your app can add value to the user.

7. Skinny Banners and cards

Using skinny banners for promotions, tips, and feature updates is an excellent way to attract user attention. Fade these cards and banners out quickly or allow users to exit them with a cross or X. Don’t put too many of these as they distract the user from the primary onboarding process. A clear message on a non-disruptive banner is the best way to engage the user. 

8. Tool Tips

A tooltip is precisely what it sounds like. It shares little nuggets of information as the user navigates your app, dropping features, tips, and tricks. When combined with a product tour, tooltips can be refreshing and exciting as they share shortcuts or feature use-cases. Similarly, tooltips are also a great way to share updates about new features with your users. 

9. Data customization

The goal of user onboarding is to familiarize the user with your product. By the end of their onboarding journey, you should have the right information to customize their user experience without compromising UI.

10. Mobile modals

Mobile modals, partial overlays, or pop-ups help you offer important information about your mobile app’s data customization practices, privacy policy, terms and conditions, etc. The user can choose to accept or reject to be able to continue using your product. Modals should be used sparingly and only to communicate critical information with CTA buttons to guide your users. 

Remember, user onboarding should be simple, quick, and easy. 

Think of it like meeting someone for the first time — you wouldn’t share your entire life story in the first meeting, right? Give your users enough information to help them realize the value your product brings to the table and teach them the basics of using your app. That’s it!

Good UI UX design in your onboarding process can increase user retention while decreasing user complaints and queries. It can mitigate app abandonment right from the start. Leverage the UI UX patterns shared above to create the perfect user onboarding interface for your mobile apps. 

If you’re confused and need more help, reach out to us at hello@brucira.com. 

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