6 mobile app user onboarding best practices in 2024


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Let’s take a quick trip back in time to understand how mobile app onboarding has evolved. In the early days of apps, onboarding was often text-heavy with lengthy tutorials and forced sign-ups, the equivalent of having a salesperson shouting in your ear right as you walk into the store.

Then came the era of minimalist walkthroughs with pretty slides showing you the key features, but maybe not explaining why they mattered.

So, what’s the difference in 2024? Let’s break down what’s still a solid bet, what’s gotten a revamp, and what we’ve left firmly in the past.

Evergreen principles: The foundation of great mobile app onboarding

At the heart of every successful mobile app onboarding experience in 2024 and beyond lies a core principle: understanding your target audience. This isn’t just about demographics – it’s about truly getting inside the heads of your ideal users.

  • What are their needs?
  • What problems do they face?
  • What are their motivations for using your app?

By prioritizing user-centricity, you can craft an onboarding flow that resonates with them on a deeper level, addressing their specific pain points and guiding them towards solutions your app provides. Think of it as building a bridge between their world and the value your app offers.

Spilled into 2024: Personalization is still key

In today’s app landscape, generic mobile app onboarding experiences are a recipe for user churn. People expect an app that understands their individual needs and goals. In 2024, personalization is no longer a “nice to have” – it’s a fundamental expectation.

This means leveraging data you collect (with user permission, of course!) to tailor the onboarding journey. For instance, imagine an e-commerce app that asks new users about their shopping preferences during onboarding.

Based on their responses, the app can then showcase relevant product categories, highlight ongoing sales, or recommend personalized product lists. This level of customization instantly creates a sense of connection and makes users feel like the app is speaking directly to them.

Modified for 2024: Progressive disclosure

Remember those overwhelming mobile app onboarding screens filled with text and features? Thankfully, those are a thing of the past. In 2024, we embrace the concept of progressive disclosure. This means presenting information and functionalities to users in a measured way, avoiding information overload.

Imagine onboarding as a conversation, not a lecture. Start by introducing core concepts and functionalities relevant to a user’s initial goals. As they become comfortable and engaged, you can gradually reveal more advanced features. This approach keeps users focused and prevents them from feeling overwhelmed by a tsunami of information upfront.

Meanwhile, check out How to design for conversion rate optimization

Deep dive into 2024’s best mobile app onboarding practices

Now, let’s dive into specific design strategies you should be implementing this year, complete with real-world examples:

Interactive tutorials

Ditch those dull walkthroughs and guide users through key tasks within the app itself. This “learning by doing” approach is much more engaging. Duolingo, the language learning app, excels at this. Instead of making you slog through slides, they seamlessly weave mini-lessons into their onboarding process, letting you learn new words and phrases as you go.

Focus on the “Why” using benefits over features

You built your app to solve a problem. Make that problem, and your solution, crystal clear in your onboarding. Instead of just saying “We have a chat feature,” try, “Chat instantly with your team to keep projects on track and deadlines met.” See the difference? The first statement tells you what the app has, the second explains why it matters to you. Focus on the benefit, the positive outcome your app delivers for the user.

Let them try before they buy

Give users a taste of the app’s value before requiring them to create an account. Offer a limited-time guest mode or a preview of core features to build trust and encourage them to sign up for the full experience. Evernote takes this approach by allowing users to create notes and explore its functionalities before requiring sign-up.

Make it their journey

Use behavioral data, demographics, or even a short onboarding quiz to tailor the experience. Spotify nails this by asking new users about their favorite artists to customize recommendations right from the start. This creates a sense of “this was made for me.”

Progress indicators to give them a sense of accomplishment

Nobody likes feeling lost. Use progress bars, step indicators, or checklists to show users how far they’ve come and what’s next, creating a sense of achievement and giving them a reason to keep moving forward.

Celebrate milestones to reinforce their decision

Gamification techniques like badges, points, or personalized rewards when users complete key onboarding steps reinforce positive behavior and add a touch of fun to the experience.

You may be interested in 8 ways to hook and convert leads on your ecommerce website

Looking ahead

Looking ahead, expect a continued emphasis on personalization, leveraging AI for even more tailored onboarding experiences. Also, the rise of voice interfaces means adapting your onboarding flows for seamless voice interaction.

Remember, your mobile app onboarding process shapes a user’s first impression. This isn’t a “check-the-box” exercise; it’s an opportunity to build a relationship from day one. Invest time and resources into crafting a thoughtful onboarding experience, and watch those conversion rates soar.

Now, I know we covered a lot today. If designing a killer onboarding flow feels overwhelming, don’t worry – we can help.

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Mark Stone

COO Insights LTD

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