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Want to Make a Stellar First Impression? Consider Your Onboarding Experience

By
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February 7, 2022

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Yep, that old saying applies to apps too - did you know that 1 in 4 app users will abandon a mobile app after just one use?! With odds like that it’s essential that you give your product’s onboarding experience some serious thought.

Because onboarding is about creating a great first impression - and ultimately retaining users - you’ll need to take a deep dive into what users really want and need. Understanding these things will allow you to provide them with a clear guide to achieving their goals.

We recently completed an onboarding re-design project with a client and identified several major areas of opportunity for all designers looking to create a more intuitive and seamless user onboarding experience:

Guided Task Completion

Guided task completion is a way to prompt users to interact with your digital product in a series of steps. This method is common when the app requires users to create an account early on in their experience - a generally dry experience that can result in user loss.

Using onboarding as a learning experience gives users a sense of accomplishment. It’s also a great way to familiarize users with the menus, controls, and other aspects of your product right away.

Some great methods for assisting users with the onboarding process include:

Make it quick!

Onboarding isn’t a whole lot of fun. The truth is, most users just want to get to the app's functionality, and can’t be bothered with answering pages and pages of questions - but unfortunately, many onboarding experiences are rife with unnecessary information fields.

If you’d like to help ensure that you’ll retain your user through the onboarding experience, you’ll want to do your best to only require users to enter the most crucial information during this experience. Interviewing your users and researching specific industry best practices can help you narrow down the information you’ll be asking for.

If your onboarding process is necessarily quite lengthy, you might also consider adopting progressive onboarding that requires users to complete the minimum necessary information immediately, but allows further steps to be completed at the users leisure.

Make users feel rewarded

Onboarding into an app is a lot of work, so it’s important to remember that users are taking time out of their day to use your software. An onboarding process that feels as if there’s no end in sight is a sure way to lose new users, so it’s crucial that you provide them with a sense of progress during any lengthy input process.


Utilizing a progress bar that provides users with a clear idea of where they are in their onboarding process can be a great motivation to complete the process. You can track user progress by embedding navigation icons or progress bars on your platform dashboard.

Ideally, your progress bar should show significant jumps in progress - for example, a jump from 20% to 40% completion can be highly encouraging. Additionally, providing the user with the average amount of time for completion can help set expectations for how long they’ll be spending on the process.

Coordinate with Marketing

Users begin the onboarding process long before they’ve started filling out the input fields on your onboarding form. In fact, your marketing team has been hard at work, guiding users towards actually signing up through expert storytelling and the promise that your app is the answer to the problem they are looking to solve.


To ensure that your onboarding process meets your users expectations you’ll need to work with your marketing team to create a seamless experience that feels like a cohesive part of a single story, making sure you are picking up where they leave off with the user. A strong narrative throughout the marketing, signup and onboarding is important.


Avoid the Empty Room Syndrome

Nobody likes showing up to a party and sitting in an empty room - the same rings true for software users. If you take a look at the big players in the software game, Twitter and Facebook for example, you’ll notice how much effort they put into ensuring that you immediately get connected and build your feed. This is because they know that their app is meaningless without data and interactions.


When designing your onboarding experience, it’s crucial that you think about how a user with no connections or data will experience your product for the first time. In design its easy to just think of what your product will look like once it is loaded with data. This isn’t the case for most users just starting out though. Remember, if this experience feels empty, your product may feel useless to users. Thinking about how you can “get the party started” is of the utmost importance.

Making a great first impression on your user will help ensure that they have a cohesive experience, helping to turn first time users into permanent users. Too often companies spend significant time and money building out products - but forget the most crucial part - onboarding! I hope these tips are helpful in designing your next onboarding experience!

If you’d like more information on building an app that users love, make sure to check out the Yeti Design & Development Masterclass - it’s always 100% free!

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