In an ever-expanding mobile market, staying competitive requires a best-in-class user experience—and that starts with A+ app onboarding.
Since their invention in 2008, apps have (to quote the Father of Apps, Steve Jobs) put a dent in the world. Think about your day-to-day life; how many mobile apps do you use to get through the day? According to a new study published by TechJury, we use an average of 9 apps a day, and 30 a month.
As with any industry, heavy usage bodes heavy competition:
There are currently 2.5 million apps in Google Play, and 1.8 million in Apple’s App Store. Those numbers can be steeply prohibitive and downright frightening to app owners.
So how do you even compete in an ever-expanding space?
It still boils down to providing your users with a seamless, best-in-class user experience. And just like any relationship, so much depends on first impressions, aka mobile user onboarding.
We’ve rounded up 5 of the best app onboarding experiences (that haven’t yet been overplayed around the internet) to inspire and inform your own quest for app excellence.
12min’s mission is to help you change your life by curating and condensing the best business and personal development books into digestible snippets. Their welcome screens do a great job of clearly articulating their value proposition.
We like that 12min’s mobile app onboarding experience is:
Succinct. 12min’s onboarding experience is quick yet thoughtful, giving all the information new users need in a concise manner—which is critical in a world of short attention spans.
Value-focused. The what, where, and how of 12min is clearly answered, in chronological order.
Appealing. It’s aesthetically pleasing and clear the 12min team spent time on branding.
Fast. The entire onboarding process is quick and simple—which helps lower the risk to avoid user abandonment. Remember that half the battle of app success is getting a user to complete the onboarding process.
Brilliant’s motto is simple: “learn to think”. They take a hands-on approach to building math and science (including computer science) skills through interactive problem-solving. Having a strong mobile onboarding experience that clearly highlights what they offer is key to setting the right user expectations.
We like that Brilliant’s mobile app onboarding experience is:
Compelling. Brilliant wastes no time convincing users that theirs is the best approach to learning math and science. Each screen gives a short synopsis on why their way is proven to be most successful. They even cite Picasso for good measure!
Easy. Like all the best app onboarding processes, new users are able to easily sign-up for Brilliant using their Facebook or Google account. Single sign-on is helpful for getting new users past that initial sign-up barrier.
Helpful. Since it’s an app that serves different user bases, it points people in the right direction based on their individual needs (learn from school, work, or self)
Straightforward. Brilliant does a great job of highlighting value upfront before directing users to a free-trial. It’s very tricky to get users to commit to paying for an app, so Brilliant’s combination of a compelling sell with a full access free-trial is the perfect approach.
Odds are, if you’re an avid runner or cyclist, you’ve heard of Strava. Back in the day, Strava started off as a GPS-tracking app for running. Today, it totes itself as the “social network for athletes” and provides a wealth of resources, community events, training goals, and more.
Not only does Strava have good onboarding, but they also do an excellent job of upselling and onboarding existing users to higher-tier plans. If you use Strava frequently for running, for instance, you may have recently been served up a re-engagement experience for their premium app offering. It’s an interesting mix of upgrade prompt and user onboarding that sells the premium plan while educating users.
We like that Strava’s mobile app re-engagement experience is:
Relevant. This is experience appeared for a user who uses Strava multiple times a week. Careful targeting and segmentation makes this upsell prompt feel relevant to users who might want to take their training to the next level with additional features.
Visual. The screenshots of what you gain access to by upgrading are really effective. The more visuals you can provide a user to sell your app, the better.
Tempting. It’s clear Strava has done plenty of market research to understand what their users want. Features like custom goals and live location sharing are both very appealing to frequent runnera.
Easy to act on. Strava makes it very easy to take the next step with their call to action button. The button is at the bottom of each screen and uses straightforward yet compelling copy to get you to click.
Estately is a newer home buying app looking to go toe to toe with the likes of Zillow and Redfin. They tout being the fastest to update new listings from using the same data providers realtors use.
We like that Estately’s mobile app onboarding experience is:
Straightforward. Their app onboarding process gets right to the point. They ask for only the essentials—the parameters of your home buying search. Their “less is more” onboarding strategy is a smart way to get people using the app as quickly as possible to showcase why they’re better than the competition.
Minimal. Their onboarding screens aren’t branded but are sleek looking and nicely designed.
Timely. Their push notification request comes at the end of their onboarding experience. Estately contextualizes the ask as a way to get up to the minute alerts when new houses that match a user’s search criteria hit the market.
Beauty junkies know Sephora is one of the biggest players in the industry. Part of their ongoing success comes from creating a personalized and seamless cross-channel shopping experience for their customers.
Their mobile app is at the focal point of this seamless experience: From personalized home screens, product recommendations and more, Sephora’s app delivers in creating a world-class customer experience. And like any great app, it all starts with their mobile onboarding.
We like that Sephora’s mobile app onboarding experience is:
Branded. Those who frequent the retail giant know Sephora’s famous black and white stripes well. Their branding is prevalent throughout their onboarding experience. Maintaining consistent branding across devices legitimizes the app and inspires confidence in the mobile shopping experience.
Persuasive. Getting users to opt-in to push notifications and share their location are critical for driving app engagement and customer lifetime value. Sephora uses clever copy to create a sense of exclusivity and urgency to encourage users to grant these permission requests.
Incentivized. Sephora wants convince users that shopping with them is a superior experience, and they highlight incentives across their onboarding experience. Dedicating a screen to their loyalty program is a smart way to win new (and even existing) customers over.
Integrated. Taking advantage of new technologies is a great way to create app stickiness. Sephora showcases how integrated and easy shopping is using their app with Face ID login and Voice Search. `
Final thoughts & app onboarding resources
Only 5 years ago, there were discussions in the tech industry if apps were here to stay. Now, mobile apps are ingrained in our society. We use apps to drive cars, protect our homes when we’re away, and everything in between. The phrase “there’s an app for that” has never been truer.
At the same time, app users are transient and are quick to jump ship when they don’t understand an app’s value. In fact, 25% of users abandon an app after first use. This is exactly why having a solid mobile app onboarding experience is critical to success. First impressions matter—and you only get one shot.
Looking for even more examples of world-class onboarding flows? These were just 5 of hundreds of onboarding flows that we love. Head over to ReallyGoodUX to see more of our favorites (or nominate your own). For more on user onboarding, be sure to check out the resources below: