Onboarding Best Practices: How to Successfully Engage and Inform Your Users

about 4 minutes read

Having a great app is one thing, but if your users don’t understand it, they won’t use it.

The moment your user opens up your app they are greeted with an onboarding process that should strengthen your app’s value and highlight its benefits and uses through instructions. Effective onboarding can increase user lifetime value by up to 500 percent, which in turn builds strong relationships with your users.

So how should you format your onboarding screens in order for the process to be educational, valuable, frictional and successful? Here are four best practices that will help you get it right the first time, and keep your user coming back for more.

Show Your Value

Instead of highlighting your app’s benefits (which you already do on your app store page with screenshots and/or a video), show your users why your app is valuable for them. Users don’t really care about your features, they care about what those features can do for them. I’m not saying your app’s functionalities are not important, they are, but your value proposition is what will bring in your users over to your app in the long run.

Lovely is a good example. They do a good job in identifying what the app can do for you—automate your rent so that you can always pay on time (one of it’s many features).

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Remember, think like your user. If you open up an app you just downloaded, what would you want to see? Think "here’s what you can do with our product" rather than “here’s what our product can do”.

Highlight the Main Features

Although you should first focus on your app’s value, don’t completely ignore pointing out the functionalities. Your user still needs to know how the app works, so focus on features that will help them complete a task, just don’t go on a information stuffing frenzy. You’ll have time to show off other functionalities when a user comes back into your app a second, third or fourth time.

Stick to Basics

Try to use no more than five steps, slides or screenshots during the onboarding process. You want to make this easy for your users, so don’t overwhelm them with heavy copy and stick to one feature explanation per screen. Images and arrows work great!

It’s also good practice to add progress indicators (usually represented by small dots on each slide), so the user knows that they are moving forward towards the end. Adding a progress bar can increase conversions up to 40 percent!

Make the Signup Process Easy

The signup process during onboarding can be tricky. Should you ask for users to signup in the beginning of the onboarding process? In the middle? In the end? Or, maybe after the user has already tested out your app? If you require first-time users to create an account before using your app, you could be losing 56 percent of your users.

If possible, give your users an option to sign up using a social media account such as Facebook or Twitter. Offering social sign-on options lowers friction and builds trust. (See Yolify example below.)

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There’s no right answer, so test out multiple signup variations during the onboarding process. Use heatmaps to see if people opt for social sign-on or email sign-on. Or, if you’re testing multiple social media sign on options, see which ones users prefer the most, and remove the ones that they prefer the least.


First impressions are everything, so designing an onboarding process that’s smooth and educational will increase conversions and retention not only in the beginning, but also long-term.

And, don’t make onboarding a one-time show. You should always review, analyze, and create an even better experience for future users to reduce abandonment rates and encourage interaction. As such, following these best practices will help you create a highly effective and efficient onboarding process that will drive engagement and enhance the user experience.

by Christina Altman, Head of Content, Ammuse Studio

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