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19 Mobile App Onboarding Best Practices and Examples

Published datePublished: Sep 13, 2023 ViewsViews: 1332
Vikas Kaushik

Vikas Kaushik

Vikas manages the Global Operations at TechAhead and is responsible for TechAhead’s growth, global expansion strategy, and ensuring customer delight.
19 Mobile App Onboarding Best Practices and Examples
Ever wonder why some mobile apps keep you hooked while others barely last a day on your device? It’s not always about the features or design. It often boils down to that crucial first impression: the onboarding process.
Mobile App Onboarding Best Practices and Examples is what we’re diving into today. Picture this – an app experience tailored just for you, effortlessly guiding you through its functionalities like a warm welcome at a friend’s house party.
You’ll learn how simplicity can work wonders in user adoption and why visuals are more than just pretty decorations. We’ll also explore the magic of gamification and how timely help can prevent frustrating roadblocks.
The app development world moves fast; there’s no room for hesitation. Let’s seize this golden opportunity together!

1. Understand Users of Mobile Apps

Understand Users of Mobile Apps
The first step to crafting an effective mobile app onboarding process is understanding your user. It’s like being a guide; you need to know what your visitors desire and how they prefer to explore before giving them the best journey.
You might be wondering, “How do I understand my users?” Good question. Start by identifying their needs and expectations. This involves researching their demographics, preferences, tech-savviness level, and more. By doing this groundwork, we at TechAhead have found that our apps resonate more with users because they feel understood right from the start.

Dig into Demographics

Your user base won’t be homogeneous – it will consist of different age groups, genders, locations, etc., each with unique needs. A Pew Research study revealed that 96% of Americans own a cellphone today, but smartphone ownership varies widely across demographic groups.
This means creating your user onboarding process is for an older demographic who may not be as comfortable using smartphones or new technology as younger users would require clear instructions and easy-to-understand language.

Tech-Savvy vs. Not So Much

Another critical factor in understanding your user is their comfort level with technology. For example, An experienced gamer would breeze through complex navigation systems, whereas someone new may get overwhelmed quickly.
We’ve seen this firsthand at TechAhead, where simple changes like breaking down steps into smaller tasks helped novice users without hindering advanced ones.

User Preferences Matter

It’s also essential to understand user preferences. For instance, some prefer reading detailed instructions, while others like video tutorials or infographics.
A study by Adobe found that users who watched a tutorial were 123% more likely to use the app again than those who skipped it. This shows how understanding and catering to your users’ preferences can drastically improve their engagement with your app.

User Expectations: Deliver What They Want

Do not overlook the needs of users.

2. Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple - Mobile App Onboarding Best Practices and Examples
Your app’s onboarding process should be like a tour guide: friendly, informative, and straightforward. An overly complex or confusing app onboarding experience can cause users to abandon the app before they’ve even started.
The charm of simplicity is found in its capacity to impart data proficiently without overpowering the client. This principle applies particularly well to mobile app design where screen real estate is premium. But how do you keep your mobile app onboarding examples and processes straightforward?

Avoid Information Overload

Too much information too soon might scare away users instead of drawing them in. Remember that first impressions matter, so make sure yours isn’t intimidating.
An effective way to prevent this is by breaking down instructions into bite-sized pieces using progressive disclosure techniques. This method only presents necessary information as needed, allowing newbies space and time for understanding.

Straightforward Navigation

Have you ever been lost in an unfamiliar city? Not fun. The same goes for navigating through an unknown app interface.
Making navigation intuitive helps users get comfortable with your application’s layout and features faster. A good rule of thumb here is consistency; having similar patterns across different screens reduces cognitive load and makes the user feel more at home.

Showcase Core Features First

Inspire curiosity about your app’s offerings, but don’t spill all the beans all at once. Highlight one or two key features during the initial stages, giving just enough taste while keeping intrigue alive.
This technique serves a dual purpose – it helps users understand what the app is about and also sets the stage for exploring more advanced features later. For example, Instagram’s onboarding screen does a great job at this by focusing first on creating posts and then gradually introducing other elements like Stories or IGTV.

Interactive Walkthroughs

Instead of diving into lengthy explanations, let your show encourage users to learn through action. Interactive walkthroughs can be a top-notch choice.

3. Use Visual Cues

Use Visual Cues - Mobile App Onboarding Best Practices and Examples
The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. This is why, at TechAhead, we strongly emphasize using visual cues in our mobile app onboarding process. But what does it mean to use visual cues?
In simple terms, these signals or indicators guide users through your application’s interface and functionalities. Think of them as signposts on a road trip; they tell you where to go next.

Why Visuals Matter

Studies have shown that people remember 80% of what they see compared to only 20% of what they read. So, the chances are high that users will better recall how to navigate your app if you give them clear visual directions.
Besides this benefit, effective use of visuals can also help reduce cognitive load, making things easier for your user’s brain. And who doesn’t like easy? It enhances the overall user experience by simplifying tasks and making navigation intuitive.

Type Of Visual Cues To Use In the Onboarding Process

  • Tutorial Overlays: These guides superimposed onto the interface highlight key features or actions users need.
  • Tooltips: Small pop-up boxes offering extra information about specific elements when hovered over or clicked upon.
  • Annotated Screenshots: A picture speaks louder than words – showing exactly where buttons/elements reside with brief descriptions goes a long way.
  • Gestural Prompts: Sometimes, gesturing towards action areas works wonders in guiding newbies. It’s like the app whispering, “Swipe here.”

Getting Visual Cues Right

The trick to nailing visual cues is subtlety and timing. Overdoing it can be as detrimental as not doing enough.
Ensure your visuals fit seamlessly into your app’s design, keeping a consistent style throughout.

4. Personalize Onboarding

Personalize Onboarding - Mobile App Onboarding Best Practices and Examples
We can’t stress this enough: onboarding isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. It needs to be as unique and individual as your app users themselves.

Why Personalization Matters?

Consider this: SmarterHQ’s 2023 report shows that 72% of consumers only use marketing messages tailored to their interests. So, why not extend the same personal touch when they start using your mobile app? After all, who doesn’t like feeling special?

The Art of User Segmentation

To kick off personalized user onboarding, you must first understand your user segments. Look at any available demographic data, behavior patterns, or even survey results – any information that helps create distinct groups within your audience.
For example, if TechAhead were building an exercise app, we’d have different user types – seasoned athletes looking for new challenges and beginners just starting out. Their onboarding experience should differ because what appeals to one may overwhelm the other.

Create Tailored Experiences

UX Design CC’s guide suggests crafting experiences around these segmented personas so that each user gets value from the get-go. An advanced athlete might want a quick overview, while a beginner could benefit from more detailed instructions and encouragement along their journey.

Incorporate In-app Behavior Data

Once users use your app, you can refine the personalization even more. TechAhead can tweak onboarding for each user group by analyzing in-app behavior data based on their actions and preferences.

Engage Users with Personalized Push Notifications

Finally, don’t forget about personalized push notifications. They can boost your onboarding strategy. Business of Apps has some great insights on this.

5. Leverage Gamification

Leverage Gamification - Mobile App Onboarding Best Practices and Examples
Utilizing a game-like approach to your app onboarding examples and process might appear strange, but it can effectively maintain user engagement and motivation. Gamification, in essence, involves incorporating game-like elements into non-game situations – like app onboarding.

The Power of Playfulness

We all love games; they’re fun and engaging. They offer rewards for achievements and give us that sweet feeling of progress. Applying these principles to your mobile app’s onboarding experience allows you to tap into the user’s innate desire for achievement and gratification.
A gamified approach doesn’t mean turning everything into a full-blown video game. Instead, it includes subtle yet powerful mechanics such as points systems or badges upon completing tasks. For instance, Duolingo uses this technique brilliantly by giving ‘lingots’ (the Duolingo currency) when users reach certain milestones.

Engagement Through Challenges

Including challenges within the app increases interaction rates significantly. Users are naturally inclined to complete tasks if a challenge is attached to a reward.
Achievements or milestone celebrations also play crucial roles here – whether through virtual high-fives or confetti showers after completing sections successfully.

Rewards & Recognition

Giving rewards encourages continuous usage, while recognition motivates towards higher engagement levels. Statistics reveal that 90% of employees feel more productive when their efforts are recognized.
Use rewards like points, badges, or even unlocking premium features to make the onboarding journey more enticing. Make sure that your users know their progress is being recognized.

Gamification Tools

Thankfully, you don’t need to build a gamified system from scratch. Various tools and platforms can help you effectively introduce game elements into your app’s onboarding process.
  • Badgeville offers an engagement platform with gamification techniques such as achievements and leaderboards.
  • Gamify: A tool designed for creating engaging experiences through gamification elements like points, badges, and challenges.
  • Playlyfe: This platform gives you access to an all-inclusive set of gamification tools.

6. Provide Contextual Help

Provide Contextual Help - Mobile App Onboarding Best Practices and Examples
The success of an app lies not only in its features but also in how well users understand them. Just as a luxury car needs to be driven correctly to utilize its features, apps need cues for smooth navigation.
This is where contextual help comes into play. Just as we have road signs guiding us while driving, apps, too, need cues for smooth navigation. These guides or helpers ensure your users can easily use your app without getting lost or frustrated.

User-friendly Hints

Imagine playing a new video game without any control instructions – daunting, right? Similarly, using an unfamiliar mobile application can be intimidating for some people. This is why user-friendly hints are crucial in an app’s onboarding process.
Hints should be clear and concise so they get straight to the point without overwhelming the user with information overload. For example, highlighting key functions during initial usage helps familiarize newcomers with what they must do next. Smashing Magazine suggests these ‘pointers’ provide guidance when needed most: at the start.

In-App Support Systems

Like every good book has a glossary and index section, every great app must include robust support systems within itself, ‘In-App.’ FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), tutorials, and tooltips – all serve this purpose by providing immediate assistance inside the application instead of forcing users out onto Google or other external resources. UX Design states that this reduces user frustration and makes them feel supported.

User Feedback for Contextual Help Improvements

What if you could upgrade your app’s contextual assistance system based on current user remarks? That’s right. Collecting feedback enables users to receive directions when they’re lost. It can show us the way forward.
Gather genuine opinions on how your support resources perform by implementing a “Was this helpful?” button or conducting periodic surveys.

7. Test & Iterate

Just as an artist might step back to evaluate their masterpiece, so should you take a breather and review your mobile app onboarding process. Remember, function-oriented onboarding aims to give users a smooth start with your app.
Analyze positive user experience through feedback and data analysis from various analytics tools. This lets you identify areas that need tweaking for optimal performance.

The Art of Testing

In the tech world, testing isn’t just about squashing bugs. It’s also about ensuring your app delivers what it promises – ease of use. It’s about anticipating users’ desires and providing them with what they need before realizing it.
But how do we accomplish this? Well, through A/B testing. Using two versions (A and B) of the same onboarding experience, you can measure which performs better based on metrics like conversion rates or session lengths. Use these results to refine further elements within the process.

User Feedback: The Golden Nugget

No matter how often we say, ‘We get our users,’ nothing beats actual user feedback when optimizing an app onboarding flow and experience. 75% of apps are used once after download, then never again, according to the BusinessOfApps report.
  • “I don’t understand what I’m supposed to do.”
  • “This takes too long.”
  • “I can’t find the information I need.”
These are all valid feedback from users with less-than-stellar app onboarding experiences here. Take them to heart and make adjustments accordingly.

Data Analysis: The Secret Sauce

The secret sauce in this mix is data analysis. This helps you spot trends, patterns, or anomalies affecting your app’s performance.
  • User drop-off points – where do most users abandon the process?
  • How long do folks typically hang out on each screen –

8. Simplify User Registration

Simplify User Registration - Mobile App Onboarding Best Practices and Examples
The registration process should be as simple as possible to avoid user drop-off. An example of this practice is Spotify’s sign-up process, which provides options to register using Facebook or Google accounts.

9. Use Interactive Tutorials

Taking a hands-on approach during the initial stages helps users understand how your app works better than static instructions ever could. For instance, Slack’s interactive tutorial walks new users through its features step by step.

10. Provide Value Early On

Showcase key benefits early to encourage continued use of your application, like Netflix’s, which immediately presents personalized recommendations after signing up.

Examples of App Onboarding Done Correctly

Creating a memorable first impression is crucial in the competitive world of mobile applications. Here are examples of apps done correctly to use as a guide in crafting an effective onboarding experience for your users.

11. LinkedIn User Onboarding Flow

LinkedIn User Onboarding Flow
The user onboarding flow of LinkedIn is a prime example that mobile app developers can learn from. With its streamlined process and intuitive design, LinkedIn successfully guides new users through the initial stages of using its platform.

12. Instagram App Onboarding

Instagram App Onboarding
One of the best examples of effective app onboarding comes from Instagram. The onboarding process is a critical step in the user journey. A well-designed onboarding experience can help increase user retention, engagement, and conversion rates.

13. SoundCloud In-App Onboarding

SoundCloud In-App Onboarding
The SoundCloud mobile app is a shining example of effective onboarding best practices. The first-time user experience is smooth, engaging, and efficient in teaching users about the application’s features.

14. MyFitnessPal App Onboarding

MyFitnessPal App Onboarding
One of the most exemplary instances of mobile app onboarding comes from MyFitnessPal. This popular fitness and diet tracking application uses a series of best practices to ensure new users understand how to maximize its features.

15. Binance User Onboarding

Binance User Onboarding
In mobile applications, user onboarding is crucial in ensuring users understand how to use an app and get the most out of its features. One such example is Binance, which has effectively implemented several best practices for mobile app onboarding.

16. Strava App Onboarding

Strava App Onboarding
The Strava app, renowned for its fitness tracking and social features, provides an excellent example of effective mobile app onboarding. It adopts a user-centric approach that successfully eases new users into the platform while showcasing its key functionalities.

17. Tinder Mobile Application

Tinder Mobile Application
The Tinder mobile application is a perfect example of best practices for app onboarding. Tinder’s user engagement and retention approach begins with an efficient, engaging, intuitive onboarding process that seamlessly guides new users through the platform.

18. Expensify Mobile App

Expensify Mobile App
The Expensify mobile app is an excellent example of a well-executed onboarding process. When you open the application, it guides you through its features and how to use them effectively.

19. Hootsuite App Onboarding

Hootsuite App Onboarding
One of the best examples of a mobile app that has effectively implemented onboarding is Hootsuite. Hootsuite, a social media management platform, uses an interactive and engaging approach to familiarize new users with its features.


What is an example of an onboarding mobile app?

An example of a mobile app with great onboarding is Duolingo. It uses gamification, personalization, and simple visual cues to help new users get started.

What is the mobile app onboarding process?

The mobile app onboarding process introduces first-time users to the functionality of your application. This usually involves explaining how it works and guiding them through initial setup steps.

How do you create a good onboarding experience for an app?

To make a solid onboarding experience, understand user needs, keep it simple yet engaging with visuals or game elements, personalize it if possible, provide contextual help when needed, and iterate based upon feedback.

What is onboarding, and why is it so important for mobile design?

Onboarding helps new users understand how to use your application effectively. A smooth start can increase user retention because folks feel comfortable navigating around immediately.


Unlocking the secrets of user onboarding flow isn’t rocket science. It’s about understanding your users, their needs and expectations.
Keep it simple, but don’t underestimate the power of visuals – they’re not just decoration; they guide your user experience.
Dabble in personalization and gamification. Tailor each user journey to fit like a glove while adding fun elements that make every interaction enjoyable.
The help you give when needed makes all the difference. Test, iterate, and improve – no process is perfect from day one.
“Implementing app onboarding best practices doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated. The magic lies in putting these practices into action!
When aiming for a seamless user experience for your next iPhone app, it’s essential to contemplate hiring a top-tier iOS Designer through a reliable channel. Toptal stands as a dependable talent marketplace boasting a rigorous vetting process that verifies the competence and expertise of its talent pool, assuring outstanding results for essential mobile app design projects.
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