How to (and how not to) onboard new users to your mobile app

March 7, 2021

Lessons from TikTok, Houseparty, Spotify, Bunch, Calm and twenty other top consumer apps.

For your app to make it big — really, BIG — you have to figure out how to turn a flood of app installs into a long-term user base. You need to turn a user’s often-vague intent (“this looks kind of interesting”) into a genuine belief that your app has a role to play in their life —that it will make them fitter, happier or more productive, in at least some small way.

You need to ‘onboard’ your user. And you need to do it quickly. Because you’re doing it in an environment where a user’s attention is measured in seconds, not minutes. Looking at the top consumer mobile apps — those that already have huge user bases and those that are getting there fast — we can see common patterns in how they onboard users. In how they get the user through those first few screens. How they get the user smiling and nodding along. How they get the user to that moment where they know the app is for them...

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