Top Challenges of User Onboarding for Mobile Apps and How to Solve Them

There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing that someone has downloaded your app and then uninstalled it.

However, 80% of users will drop an app if they don’t understand how to use it, which is why usability is key. This is a critical part of the onboarding process, ensuring your customers are comfortable with your app from the moment they open it.

If you do not set up onboarding correctly, though, it can end up causing more harm than good. So, with that being said, let’s take a look at some of the top challenges of user onboarding for mobile apps and how to solve them.

What is mobile app onboarding?

Mobile application onboarding refers to the process of helping a user to get started with your app in an automated manner, enabling them to engage with your high-value features straight away.

You will typically achieve this via a welcome guide, which walks the user through the set-up process and explains the core functionality of your app.

You can read Appcues guide to mobile user onboarding for a more in-depth take on mobile onboarding and how it works.

What are some of the challenges of user onboarding for mobile apps?

Brick Sized.png

There are a number of hurdles that you need to overcome to ensure an effective onboarding experience for mobile apps. Here are some of the common issues users face:

  • A lengthy process – If the onboarding experience is too lengthy, people will lose interest, and they will forget about half of the details provided. If your app has many elements to it, you do not need to explain them all. Take website builders as a prime example. They are typically packed with features. It would take too long to go through them all in the onboarding process. This is what knowledge hubs and video tutorials are for.
  • A lack of support – A lot of apps make the error of leaving users hanging once the onboarding process is complete. This is not a wise move, as not everyone will get it on the first try. This is why you need to continue to support your users throughout the entire process.
  • Failing to deliver what has been promised – Trust is the number one thing you are creating during the onboarding process. Nothing breaks trust more than failing to live up to a user’s expectations. This is what we are seeing with the new wave of applications in the quick delivery space particularly, promising users they can get what they want in a matter of minutes. You should never overpromise and underdeliver.
  • Features over value – A lot of developers make the critical mistake of concentrating on features instead of value. Users do not care about what your mobile app does. They care about what your app can do for them.
  • Forcing users to sign-up before they have tried the app – We understand why you may be tempted to do this, but it can actually scare people off. You are asking for too much too soon. Let people try your app first to make sure they experience it and enjoy it. If they do, they will naturally sign-up.

Tips on creating an excellent mobile app onboarding process

Now you know some of the common challenges users face during mobile app onboarding, let’s take a look at how you can perfect your mobile app onboarding process:

Set a straightforward onboarding objective

The first thing you need to do is establish a clear goal. This will make it a lot easier to measure how successful your in-app user onboarding process is. Make sure your objective is realistic and simple.

If you don’t have a clear goal to measure your efforts against, you are going to struggle to gauge whether or not your onboarding process is hitting the mark.

Design an onboarding flow

Once you have established a goal, it is time to start working on your onboarding flow and the kind of mobile onboarding method you would like to use.

Make sure that your onboarding flow is frictionless so that users do not need to think twice when navigating your app.

Your onboarding flow also needs to:

  • Take into account the intent of the user – You can ask them about their objectives at the start of the process and then personalize the rest of the onboarding process
  • Afford users the option to skip binding offers
  • Consist of tasks that are easy to accomplish before moving on to the more ‘challenging’ parts of the onboarding process

Segment app users and make the most of contextual onboarding

Contextual onboarding enables you to amend paths, so they match the user’s objective. For instance, if a user begins with a less popular feature, contextual onboarding enables them to discover it before they jump onto key features.

This kind of onboarding supports user segmentation and will give you the ability to exchange different messages with various groups of users.

Gather data regarding your first user group, and then you can consider how to make the onboarding process more personalized.

There are a number of different things you can use to segment users. This could be job title or user type. You can also segment users based on behavior patterns.

Make sure you underline the values and benefits of the features

As mentioned earlier, focusing solely on the features of the app is not the best idea. Instead, you need to concentrate on the benefits and values of the features.

So, highlight the feature, but really concentrate on what value this will bring to the user.

  • What makes your mobile app relevant to the user?
  • How does your mobile app enable the user to achieve their goal?
  • How efficiently can the feature in question complete a task? What about sharing results with others?

These are the sort of questions you can ask yourself so that you view your app from the user’s perspective and what they truly want and need.

Collect data and evaluate it

You won’t be able to improve the app onboarding process if you do not collect data so you can understand how users are experiencing your app.

Make sure you gather data on the experience users have and continually assess it so you can make intelligent decisions to improve the onboarding process.

Add a ‘skip’ button and ensure it is visible

To achieve frictionless onboarding, skippable options are a must. Ensure there is a ‘skip’ button and that it is visible.

We have seen numerous onboarding processes whereby the ‘skip’ button is barely visible. A lot of designers even do this on purpose because they don’t want users to skip through. However, not everyone wants their hand held throughout onboarding, so you need to cater to both options. Hiding the skip button is only going to cause frustration.

There are lots of different reasons why someone may want to skip through the mobile app onboarding process:

  • The motivation to learn themselves
  • Knowledge of app functionality
  • Level of technical expertise
  • Lack of time

Leverage gamification

Our final piece of advice is to onboard mobile users in the same manner as online games do. If you have ever played an online game, you will know what we are talking about.

Games reveal pieces of information as and when needed. They do not overload people with information. They take people through elements and allow them to explore others on their own.

Also, if you enable the user to experience a product as early as possible in the onboarding process, they will not feel like they are being onboarded at all.

You can also use gamification. This helps to navigate a person through the onboarding process with the satisfaction of achieving goals along the way.

Think of different ways you can make the onboarding process more fun and enjoyable. The approach you use will depend on the type of app you create. However, you can start by brainstorming different ways to make the onboarding process engaging, competitive, and fun.

Overcoming common onboarding challenges so that your mobile app can thrive

So there you have it: an insight into some of the most common challenges that people face when it comes to onboarding for mobile applications. We hope that the recommendations we have provided above will help you to create a seamless and effective onboarding experience so that you can reduce the number of instances of your app being uninstalled.

By Kerry Leigh Harrison