Software or App Onboarding

By: Carol Vercellino, CEO & Co-Founder

“Almost everyone will make a good first impression, but only a few will make a good lasting impression.” – Sonya Parker

What type of impression are you making when your users download and open up your app? 

User onboarding is one of the most critical elements of your app or software development and launch. It determines whether users stay, go, or even become raving fans of your product.

So, today we’re going to talk about how to streamline the user onboarding experience for your software product or app. Let’s dive in.


Jay: First, tell us what user onboarding is and why it’s important.

Carol: Onboarding is an experience a user has when they first open up your app, especially if they’re new to it. There are two different camps here. If your app is really well done and well built, you don’t need onboarding. But, some apps require your users to have a little bit of guidance the first time they’re opening up your app.

A lot of it depends on what type of app you have. If you have a social app, you probably don’t want to have a very extensive onboarding process. You want to make the app super simple and easy to use.

But an app that’s more of a utility or an educational tool, you want to add an onboarding process, so people know what they can do in the app.


Jay: How do you create an onboarding strategy?

Carol: You sit down with your team and talk about the goals of the app, the purpose of the app, and what the value is you’re delivering to the user. Then, you map out the first thing the user sees when they open up the app. Where do you want them to go? What do you want them to do while they’re there?

You can whiteboard out the steps or even wire frame it out. You really want to look at that layout and what would be intuitive for the user to click, tap, or do next.


Jay: What are some user onboarding best practices or tips?

Carol: If you take a step back from onboarding, there are best practices around just the app itself. For example, when a user signs up for your app, what is that account flow like? Is it super simple? Or do you have a lot of different steps?

You know, if you ask for a credit card upfront, you’re probably going to lose some users right there – depending on the app and depending on the target market. So, you really want to be strategic about the number of screens you use that the user has to go through.

Also, there’s also the experience of getting help from your company. Is it easy for your users to get help? Do they have to call a 1-800 number, is there a chatbot on your website, do you have an FAQ area or help center where they can easily find information. 

If you decide not to have a walk through of your app, can your user easily google your app and find a help center to get the information they need to be successful in using your app?

Jay: So it’s all about reducing friction during that process?

Carol: Yes.


Jay: Could you share an example onboarding process with us?

Carol: Any app you download from the app store, you can kind of get a feel of how the apps work. Just download one and take a look at it. 

Some of the best apps you download, you go straight into the app. One example is the Facebook app. When you download it, you go straight to the news feed. In some apps, you only have to sign up with a phone number – you don’t have to put in a whole bunch of account information.

Another way to think about it is when was the last time you went to a doctor’s office, and you walked in, and they handed you an iPad? You filled out the forms, and it was really simple. When that process is simple, you think, ‘oh, I like this doctor’s office; it makes it easy to schedule appointments and update my records.’

You want to translate that experience into your app as well.

**The above interview has been transcribed for clarity and brevity.**

Want to learn more about streamlining your users’ experience? Check out our video on How to Get Your App Users to Stick Around After the Free Trial here.