Using UX App Analytics To Refine
Your App's Onboarding Experience

The mobile onboarding experience is critical to your app's success. Learn how UX app analytics can optimize the onboarding experience and improve user retention.

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In this eBook we'll discuss:

  • The right and wrong ways to onboard your app's users
  • Mobile onboarding best practices
  • Gaining insights from UX app analytics to optimize the onboarding experience


You've just launched your app on the Apple Store and Google Play. Downloads start trickling in. Then Boom! Your app is being downloaded over 100 times each hour. Your goal is fulfilled. Or is it? While having a high download number is a key metric, your battle has just started. Keeping your users engaged post-download and convincing them to stay is your next goal. This is known as Onboarding.

Bringing them Onboard

You can take a look at onboarding as constructing a ramp to get on a highway. The car represents your app and the passengers, your users. You want to retain first time users and inspire them to be active and engaged. This is the core when creating an onboarding experience.

Onboarding: Doing it Right

There are quite a few techniques used by app developers to ensure users stay on and keep coming back. We'll go over them below.

• Inline Hinting – This technique gives users the skinny on the features, while allowing them to progress within the app.

• Tutorial – Designing a tutorial will help guide users of your app step by step while engaging them. Brief and targeted messages are used here as to not confuse the user. Less is MORE.

Onboarding: Doing it Wrong

• App Flow Gone Bad – One of the biggest mistakes that developers make when creating their app is how it flows. A long loading time, a long process to register and set up the app, ill-placed images and small fonts are just some factors that can cause users to bounce from your app.

• Too Much Information – Overwhelming users with too much information at the very start of onboarding (and anywhere else in your app) is not a good idea. Just show users what they need to get to the next task.

Best Practices for Onboarding

• The Overview - Give an Overview. Showcase the most important areas of the app and use arrows to keep the app's context visible. This enables the user to see the areas they are looking for.

• Present the User with Value - Narrow down the value that your app brings. Explain it on one screen ultimately. Use two if you must but no more. The idea is showing them what value your app brings to their lives.

• Show Them the Way - At each step highlight what they need to do to continue to the next step. By guiding them without any interruption you'll succeed in creating a sleek onboarding experience

Tutorial Methods for App Diversity

• Step by Step Tutorial – Gaming Apps The gaming arena can be tricky. You need to show the user how to get through the game to the end goal, whatever that might be. Show them how to play by the rules. Teach them the ins and outs and perhaps even provide them some tips.

• Show them the Value Tutorial – Mcommerce Apps For Mcommerce apps, you want to go beyond just showing them how to use the app. Show them how they can gain value. Show them the sale alert push notifications they'll receive whenever they are in a certain store location. Enhance their mobile buying experience.

• "Get them into the Habit" Tutorial – Social Sharing Apps In the world of photo sharing apps, Pinterest leads the pack by guiding users to start their image collection. The app guides users to find images and post their first pin. Pinning is a habit that is formed via the tutorial. By showing the user how to do it and them seeing the photo successfully pinned you're making them feel successful. If users want to be more successful (and who doesn't?), they'll continue doing whatever you guided them to. Hopefully again and again. And again. Habit-Forming is the word.

Take a Step Back

After you've done your analytics homework to see how many users have stayed onboard, how many have dropped off and how many just have not returned. You should take a look and see if what you designed as an onboarding experience is working its magic? How do you know if the methods you chose are doing the job?

A visual mobile analytics tool will help you answer these questions and a lot more. In order to be most effective it needs to be implemented from day one.

See below for the features that will help you understand the why for user actions.

• Touch Heatmaps – See the hotspots on your app's screens where your audience is tapping, swiping, and pinching. See where they are focusing the most. Using touch heatmaps, you'll be able to gain insight into user behavior, come to an understanding why they are and aren't taking certain actions.

• User Recordings – Get to see how users are using your app through their eyes with user recordings. See how they navigate from one app screen to the next, where they might be getting stuck, where they spend the most time and where they spend the least.

• Real-Time Visual analytics Reporting – This feature brings together all the actions on a visual easy to read screen. See why your users are doing what they are doing at a moment in time. View an aggregated report of all user actions. You'll gain valuable insight with this report that gives you a Birdseye's view of your mobile user's behavior.

Optimizing the Onboarding Experience via the Data from Visual Mobile Analytics

By using the top-down approach and bottom-up approach, you will gain the upper hand in optimizing your users' onboarding experience.

• Bottom-Up – By utilizing User Recordings you will see data at the user-level. See the onboarding experience as your users see it. See exactly where they encounter any usability issues or technical problems. You'll be able to see the sequence of events that resulted in a crash.

• Top-Down – Real time in-app analytics combined with Touch Heatmaps give you all the data in an aggregated format. All this data on your users empowers you to conduct the optimization of your onboarding process by analyzing metrics such as Drop-off Rates, User Engagement, Screen Crashes, Error Pop-Ups and Usability Issues.

Hopping On the Mobile Analytics Train

Both traditional and visual mobile analytic tools need you to integrate their SDK into the app. This stage is really simple and usually just requires the inclusion of a snippet of code. It only takes a few minutes.

The majority of mobile analytics tools come with free trials, with only a few extending a free model. Paid plans are typically priced according to the number of data points and user sessions.