April 24, 2024

Best Mobile App Onboarding Examples in 2024

Onboarding is critical to drive activation and retention. Take inspiration from the best onboarding flows from fastest-growing mobile app companies.

Aditya Bhattacharyya

If you're here, you already know how important user onboarding is. We don't need to tell you that the average mobile app sees almost 80% of new users drop off after the first 3 days.

If you're looking for some inspiration to improve your own mobile app onboarding experience, you've come to the right place.

We break down the best onboarding flows from across the mobile app industry and shed light on what makes them great. Here is a high-level summary:

  • Apps like Doordash, Calm, Bumble, Blinkist and Duolingo have some of the best onboarding flows from the mobile industry.
  • Key reasons their onboarding flows are so successful include personalization of experience; intuitive UI; low time-to-value; well-placed social proof and finely timed prompts.
  • Gaming apps in particular have really nailed onboarding. Candy Crush gives quick wins and Temple Run takes a "learn by doing" approach.

DoorDash's user onboarding eliminates all friction

One of the biggest stages of friction when you download a new mobile app is the initial sign up phase.

The process of signing up and the associated friction can’t be skipped, but can you transfer this friction to a later stage - to a point where you’ve already delivered some value to the user?

DoorDash’s onboarding shifts the friction associated with signing up closer to the end of the user journey, to get more new users to place their first order as quickly as possible.

DoorDash's signup page

DoorDash’s initial signup page has the regular email, google signup options, but it also includes an option for continuing as a guest.

This is brilliant because DoorDash can let users explore its value - browse restaurants in their location and even add items to cart - without signing up. Only when you need to place your order are you asked to fill in your address and other details.

If possible, you can also experiment with your onboarding flow to check if significant points of friction (such as signing up) can be backloaded to the later stage of the user journey, to a point after your users have seen value.

Calm delivers a relaxing onboarding experience

Calm is a meditation and relaxation app. If you ever use Calm, you’ll notice it starts delivering value immediately - right when the app is loading!

Calm's loading screen onboarding

Calm’s onboarding has a few steps, including questions around my goals for joining (meditation, managing stress, sleeping better, etc). Due to this slightly longer onboarding, they have included some social proofing midway to motivate users to finish onboarding.

Calm introduces social proof to make me continue

Bumble's onboarding nudges users to take specific actions

What stands out in Bumble’s onboarding is the right nudge at the right time.

Any dating app needs both men and women to make it successful. The most drop off in men who’ve signed up on Bumble would probably happen within the first few days, especially if they’ve not received any “likes”.

Bumble reduces this drop-off with the well-placed “Spotlight” feature. When you go to the "Likes" screen, if no one's swiped right on you yet, Bumble keeps your hopes alive with Spotlight.

Bumble nudges us to use Spotlight at the right time

The value is evident: By skipping to the front of the queue, increase your odds of getting matched with people you’re interested in. If you get a match, you’re much more likely to stay.

Google Pay uses in-app messaging in onboarding to drive users to complete core actions

Google Pay knows that a new user will be activated much faster if they make a payment to their contacts via a search, or by scanning a QR code. They make sure a new user is aware of how to use those two features with tooltips.

Google pay uses tooltips to drive activation

These tooltips drive activation rates up because:

  1. They drive awareness and education about key features
  2. More users complete these core actions and derive value
  3. Users take these actions in their first 1-2 app experiences, thereby reducing time to value

If you'd like to dig deeper, here are some examples of consumer apps who've improved onboarding and activation rates with in-app messages.

Duolingo: Another masterclass in reducing onboarding friction

Start learning a language as soon as possible, no signup required. Duo wastes no time showing you what their experience looks like and how easy it will be to learn that language you've been eying for a while now!

A very clean user experience, and keeping things simple enough to not overwhelm new users.

Duolingo reducing onboarding friction

As you progress, Duolingo asks you to commit to learning French everyday with a daily streak.

Duolingo reducing onboarding friction

This must have been a great growth experiment for Duo. Here's how they would have planned this experiment:

  1. Hypothesis: We believe that users who commit to learning a new language are more likely to use Duolingo again
  2. Prediction: If they commit to a 7-day streak, day 7 retention will increase by XX%

I'm guessing this experiment paid off for Duolingo, which is why they've had this screen in place for a long time now.

Once you've shown new users what a lesson looks like and have them commit to learning with you, getting them to make a profile to save their progress becomes a very small ask.

Blinkist: Personalize onboarding with relevant questions

Blinkist is a subscription app that offers book summaries and key ideas in 15-minute listens. Its user interface is excellent, and it has a light, pleasant feel.

During the onboarding process, Blinkist starts by asking users about their goals. This helps collect user intent and deliver personalized content later in the user journey.

Blinkist: Personalize onboarding with relevant questions

To curate personalized recommendations, Blinkist asks you about the genre in which you want to invest yourself based on which, it shows you a list of book suggestions as a part of the subsequent onboarding process.

Asking relevant questions to personalize onboarding, Blinkist

Blinkist then delivers a personalized and interactive onboarding process by including book recommendations tailored to the genre the user chose.

Blinkist training its recommendation model

Additionally, Blinkist fosters motivation by showcasing how its reading/listening habits compare favourably to others. This personalised experience, combined with motivational prompts, effectively encourages potential customers to sign up for a free trial at the end of the onboarding process.

Candy Crush Saga: Quick wins in onboarding boost user motivation

Ever played Candy Crush Saga? The success of Candy Crush Saga lies in its ability to tap into our innate desire to win quickly and experience the satisfaction of mastering a skill.

This habit-forming thrill can also be applied to user onboarding and training by creating an easy and rewarding "beginner's level."

Candy Crush gives users quick wins

This approach can help reduce the mental friction a user would have during the onboarding process and lead to long-term stickiness. This also instills a sense of satisfaction in the users that they are doing the right thing.

Map out your product’s onboarding experience and try to give your users an early win to get to improve activation and long-term retention.

Masterclass: Explore before signing up

Masterclass is an extensive online learning platform with an impressive app onboarding process.

The app allows new users to freely explore available courses without signing up, offering them the freedom to discover the platform's full potential. The entire onboarding process is brief yet informative, providing users with essential details while also granting them the liberty to explore on their terms.

Masterclass: Explore before signing up

As we saw with Duolingo and Doordash, the icing on the cake is that users can access all of this without the need to sign in or create an account. This feature enables users to discover what interests them in the app and become engaged in the experience before dealing with mundane tasks like filling out forms and granting permissions.

TIDAL: Onboarding serves as reminder of core benefits

TIDAL, a music app, has an onboarding process which focuses on core functionality and competitive benefits.

When users open the TIDAL app for the first time, they are presented with previews of its strongest features, such as hi-fi sound quality, high-definition music videos, and offline mode.

TIDAL: Onboarding serves as reminder of core benefits

By reminding users of your core value, you motivate your users to continue and finish signing up. Users are then prompted to sign up or log in to experience these features for themselves.

Rather than emphasizing emotional benefits, this strategy involves showcasing your app's standout features, particularly those that your competitors don't offer.

Temple Run: Learn by doing

Learning through doing things in an app can be considered to be one of the best onboarding practices adopted.

Building interactive onboarding helps keep the user engaged and guides them to experience the AHA moment.

Learn by doing onboarding with Temple Run

Temple Run, as shown in the image above, is an example of how this is embraced wherein interactive messages while playing keeps the users hooked to the game and also give them a sense of learning while actually performing/playing the game

Soundcloud: Keep things simple

SoundCloud is a well-known social network app for music. It offers a convenient one-step sign-up process.

Soundcloud onboarding

Once users sign up, they they are asked to provide their age, gender, display name, and photo (optional) for account creation which may also help SoundCloud understand its user demographics to provide personalized music recommendations.

Unlike many other apps, SoundCloud does not provide an explanation of its features or benefits. Users are free to explore the app and discover music right away, allowing them to reach the "aha moment" quickly because of its self-explanatory UI.

Build your own insane onboarding experience

And there you have it. Onboarding flows from some of the best mobile apps in the consumer tech space.

As we saw with Google Pay, one way to improve onboarding is using the right in-app messages. At Plotline, we help mobile-first companies build better onboarding experiences with a variety of in-app messages, fully no-code.

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