The Ultimate Guide – User Onboarding

You have prepared the great application icon design inspired by The Ultimate Guide – Application Icon article. Now you are ready to design the first point of interaction after user launches the application. User Onboarding plays a huge role in the potential success of the solution. It ensures user that he has made the right decision by installing the software.
So, let’s discover how to guide user into our up in the most effective way?

Show benefits

There are plenty of apps in the App Stores that do almost the same thing as yours. Onboarding is the moment you should reveal the benefits of your solutions. Try to cover the features that your competitor does not have, or the ones that are implemented better in your product. The user launching the app for the first time is probably comparing your app with the other ones. This is the moment to present your piece of software as the best one in the market.

Educate user

Someone said an interesting thing: “Design is Like a Joke. If You Have to Explain It, It Isn’t That Good”. Well, it is only partially true. Onboarding is the moment where education is welcome. We constantly create solutions that are easy to use. However, there is always a possibility that there will be someone for whom your product will not be intuitive from the beginning. What’s more, if your solution does complex tasks, educate your user how the app is making it better and simpler that the competitor’s one. Finally, onboarding may be a good place to inform user why you need some additional permissions (like geolocation services) to deliver the best experience for him.

Highlight core features

This advice is connected with the  previous one. While user learns about our solution, you should focus on presenting only the main features, the ones that decide about the advantages of your app over competitors.

Avoid obvious things

“Obvious always wins” rule does not apply here. If you will include things commonly known by most of people using smartphones you will waste time of the app’s user. The worst thing you can do is to bore your user at the beginning of the journey to your solution.

Encourage to sign up

The ability to register inside the solution may be the final step that confirms that the user is engaged. It is good to encourage to create account while the onboarding process. However, registration completion should not be the only gateway to your product. The user should be able to try it or even use it regularly without creating an account.

Consider empty state

There are some styles of Onboarding. The most popular one is to create the window with pages. However, there is also a possibility to educate user on the empty screen of your app. It works well, when the product’s content is highly dependent from user, like in the note taking apps.

Create guided interaction

guided interaction
Another style of Onboarding is to encourage user to make the first actions with your assitance. Confucius said “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” If you will help user taking the first steps in to the solution you will be sure that he will know how to use it.

Keep it simple & short

Onboaring should be quick. The user would like to use your product as soon as it is possible. Analyze what is needed to tell at the beginning and remove all other things. If you design app’s onboarding in pager style, consider to create maximum 7 pages. This number should be never exceeded. If your app need to introduce more things to a user it is a good idea to make it contextually. For example, when a user will discover a specific feature, educate him in that particular moment. You should not explain everything in the first launch of the app – it may be to much for your user.


There is no simple recipe for perfect Onboarding. There are various apps and different people using them. This tips should help you make it better and ensure that you will not make any major mistake.

If you are interested in other aspects of app design, you may be interested in discovering “The Ultimate Guide” blog post series.