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Onboarding is key to user retention

Bringing desktop apps to a mobile experience can be a dream come true for some users, while others tend to find a conversion a bit of a struggle. The key to a successful app lies in the retention rate of users: Can your app be so good/even better than the desktop version so that even non-power users want to come back?

Let them have an "Aha" moment quickly

When Twitter was seeing new users to their app returning less and less they researched what can be done to persuade users to come back and use the service. In life there are no second chances to make first impression, so you need to get this right. They found out that if they allow users to add at least 10 followers to their profile right after they signed up, that then they had not just understood this vital concept of following and be followed but also had something to go back to after some time. In the early days of Dropbox the service found it difficult to educate users how dramatically easier document sharing was with it. Sure they understood that its for file sharing in a way, but that it's a file sharing/storage tool that works inside Windows Explorer they didn't quite seem to have gotten that memo. After running some tests Dropbox found out that prompting users to upload their first file right after sign up made the lesson stick much better. The incentive for the user was to quickly earn more free storage for completing this simple step. Similarly free storage was used as the 'bait' to get them download the App Store which further complemented the users understanding of it shares files instantly from anywhere to anywhere.

Key to success

This process of selling, educating and playfully explaining the functionality is called onboarding and its key to create a positive connection for first time users fast. When designing your own business apps think about how you can introduce first time users to the features of your new application. If you combine more data sources in one app than the users previously was used to from the desktop why not include a visual that highlights the connected services.

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