6 Key Reasons Why User Onboarding is Essential in UX

Whether it’s a website or an app, user onboarding is an essential process in the user experience, here are 6 key reasons to pay attention.

User Onboarding

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6 Key Reasons Why Your Web or Mobile App Needs User Onboarding


User onboarding is one of the most important phases of your app’s user journey. In essence, it is the process of guiding new users to easily and quickly find value in your app when they open it for the first time.


An onboarding process is like a bridge that turns new users into engaged ones and can help form a great first impression on your users.


As most users today have a tiny attention span and lack patience, they would quickly lose interest if your app looks complicated to use. That’s where user onboarding helps.


Here are six key reasons why your app needs a well-defined user onboarding process.

#1 – It boosts user engagement

A hands-on user onboarding process, such as one with clickable tutorials, serves to boost user engagement the moment they open your app for the first time. A user onboarding workflow is an opportunity to instantly show your product’s value by illustrating its best features.


Without proper onboarding, new users might browse the app a little, trying to figure out things on their own, and if they miss the key features or find it difficult to use (even when it isn’t), they’ll likely become disengaged soon after.


User onboarding facilitates your app’s initial usage, boosting engagement. The onboarding process can itself be made more engaging by incorporating gamification elements like progress bars and checklists.


In case your app is complex and has a rather long onboarding process, you can have rewards for users who complete the whole process. For instance, Dropbox awards users free storage space if they finish the user onboarding process, which also helps boost user retention.

#2 – It improves the user experience

From your eyes, your app may be extremely beginner-friendly and easy-to-navigate. But your first-time users, coming from different backgrounds, may not necessarily feel the same.


Sure, great apps are intuitive enough for anyone to quickly start using them as second nature. However, don’t think of user onboarding as an acknowledgment that your app’s usability is poor just because you’re providing the user some “assistance” so they can start using the app to the best of its capabilities.

user experience

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All the notable big apps such as Gmail and Facebook have a minimalist user onboarding that enhances the user experience, not worsen it.

#3 – It helps set up the right user expectations

When you’re trying to decide an app for a particular use case — say, trimming music to create a ringtone — you typically browse and install a bunch of competing apps and then pick one based on your quick first impressions.


This means that the first few interactions that a new user has with your app can make all the difference in retaining the user or letting them go forever.


A short but effective user onboarding workflow that immediately demonstrates your app’s value will make the user feel “Aha — this is just what I need!” — a feeling you want your users to experience as soon as possible.


New users shouldn’t feel the need to guess or even think to understand what your app offers and how. Within moments of installation, they should be able to grasp what your app does and why they don’t need to look elsewhere.

#4 – It decreases your user churn rate

Your churn rate is the rate at which you lose acquired users. As acquiring new users can cost up to seven times more than retaining existing ones, so you must do everything you can to minimize your churn rate, even if those lost users can be replaced.


So for your subscription-based digital product, the only thing that’s more crucial than getting new sign-ups is to convince users to stick around.


A well-crafted user onboarding process facilitates their proficiency in using your app. And as soon as they feel skillful in using your product, they would far less likely to churn. That’s because nobody wants to waste time learning another app from square one. They’d prefer sticking with your app, even if you need some time to improve it and roll out updates.

#5 – It enables you to gracefully explain the app’s advanced features

When your app is an elaborate one with a great many features, a well-defined user onboarding process is even more vital.

Source: Unsplash


In this case, with a few advanced features on offer that require proper explanation, it helps to have a user onboarding process that’s split into several phases. Have one phase for the initial onboarding (explaining all the basic features to get started) and other phases later, as and when needed.

#6 – It lowers customer support costs

Think about it —  if you have a quick and easy user onboarding process, such as an interactive tutorial that guides the users every step of the way, your users are far less likely to contact customer support for getting answers to questions that are obvious.


By building reusable user onboarding workflows, you can automate many of the customer support activities and consequently, decrease the associated costs. This means you don’t have to invest as much in creating and managing a huge customer support team.

Best practices to create a strong user onboarding experience

With the importance of user onboarding clear, consider the following few best practices to create a strong user onboarding process:


  • Keep it quick: Ideally, the process should be completable within a minute or two. Your goal is to help users quickly get started with your app, not to bore them with every tiny detail.
  • Gamify it: Adding game-like elements like progress bars and badges will make the process more exciting, leading to more completions.
  • Let users skip it: Regardless of how well-thought-out your onboarding process is, if users want to skip it, they should be able to do so. Never force users to complete the onboarding process for them to start using the app.


Using any of the Apty Competitors such as Whatfix, you can easily create guided product tours for onboarding new users.

Over to you

Acquiring new users is no easy feat. So the last thing you want is to lose them right after they sign up for your app.


User onboarding is your chance to reduce any potential friction in using your app and create a strong first impression on new users. So, keep the above-outlined best practices in mind and don’t treat user onboarding as an afterthought.