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Here you will find articles on an ambitious plan to travel from Singapore to Morocco overland, i.e. without flying.

I will use buses and trains to travel through South East Asia, China, Mongolia, Russia, and Europe.

Read about The Plan So Far.

Mobile App Onboarding

Written by Joshua Fuglsang on .


DevGrowth Hacking
Slack Onboarding
Slack Onboarding - Copy­right © Joshua Fuglsang

Mo­bile on­board­ing is the process of in­tro­duc­ing and de­scrib­ing a prod­uct to a us­er, with the goal of get­ting of get­ting the us­er to reg­is­ter to your ser­vice. On­board­ing should teach peo­ple how to use the prod­uct’s key func­tion­al­i­ties and should say why the prod­uct will solve some of the users prob­lems. If you do not leave a good im­pres­sion dur­ing your on­board­ing, then it is like­ly that you will lose users. I think most peo­ple would agree that first im­pres­sions are im­por­tant. If some­one leaves a bad im­pres­sion the first time you meet them, then it will prob­a­bly take some time be­fore they will earn your re­gard back. This con­cept works for apps too.

There are three com­mon­ly de­scribed on­board­ing pro­cess­es:

  • Val­ue on­board­ing,
  • Func­tion­al on­board­ing,
  • Pro­gres­sive on­board­ing.

Value Onboarding

Val­ue on­board­ing aims to teach users about what an app does and why peo­ple should use it. It will pro­pose the val­ue of the app; what it does, and how the us­er can take ad­van­tage of it.

For ex­am­ple, the val­ue of us­ing a to-do list app is that it will help peo­ple to or­gan­ise their lives.

Dur­ing on­board­ing you can tell the us­er about the val­ue of your app. You can tell them about what it can do and why it is good for them. How­ev­er, you should pri­ori­tise what you in­clude. Apps can con­tain lots of fun­tion­al­i­ty and fea­tures; you can’t de­scribe all of them. Talk about what makes your app unique and about the fea­tures that peo­ple love to use.

Functional Onboarding

Func­tion­al on­board­ing aims to teach peo­ple about how to use an app. Con­tin­u­ing on from our ex­am­ple, many to-do list apps have been re­leased on the app store. The val­ue of these apps are in­her­ent; they help to or­gan­ise your life. How­ev­er, maybe you have de­signed a high­ly ef­fi­cient to-do list whose key func­tions are driv­en by ges­tures. It may not be ob­vi­ous how to use these ges­tures, and may be a good idea to teach peo­ple about your ges­tures dur­ing the on­board­ing process. How­ev­er, dont de­scribe ob­vi­ous in­ter­ac­tions; ev­ery­one al­ready knows that a cross icon will close your screen. You don’t need to de­scribe it.

Progressive Onboarding

A fi­nal, pop­u­lar way to in­tro­duce peo­ple to you app is to do so pro­gres­sive­ly. This ap­proach works well be­cause most peo­ple learn by do­ing. You can teach peo­ple about how to use your func­tions when they are first en­counter them. I be­lieve that this is a fan­tas­tic way to teach func­tion­al­i­ty, but if your app is high­ly con­cep­tu­al, then I think you should al­so con­sid­er a val­ue-based on­board­ing ap­proach too.

Onboarding notes

What are some things that you can do to more ef­fec­tive­ly on-board a us­er? On­board­ing through a walk­through is a com­mon ap­proach. It al­lows you to teach your users what your app is all about, and how it can im­prove their lives. Be­low are a set of ac­tiv­i­ties that are of­ten in­clud­ed in on­board­ing im­ple­men­ta­tions.

Request Permissions

Does your app re­quire a cer­tain per­mis­sion to op­er­ate? Then this is prob­a­bly a good time ask. A cam­era app with­out ac­cess to the cam­era isn’t very use­ful.

I see a lot of apps re­quest­ing push per­mis­sion the first time that I open them. I am not go­ing to grant push per­mis­sion if I am not fa­mil­iar with this app. What if you are go­ing to flood me with no­ti­fi­ca­tions? You want to op­ti­mise the time when you ask for push per­mis­sion. Push no­ti­fi­ca­tions are very im­por­tant for ac­tive­ly en­gag­ing users lat­er on. Try to pro­vide con­text on why you want to en­able this fea­ture. TechCrunch has a great ar­ti­cle on the right way to re­quest per­mis­sions. See:­mis­sions/

The best way is to re­quest per­mis­sion is at the time when the us­er sig­nals their in­tent to use a par­tic­u­lar fea­ture re­quir­ing per­mis­sion. Do they want to im­port a pho­to from their gallery? Re­quest per­mis­sion then.


Try to re­duce the amount of fric­tion in the reg­is­tra­tion process. If your reg­is­tra­tion process is too com­pli­cat­ed or long, then you are go­ing to lose users. This site states that you will lose 56% of new users if they can’t use your app with­out reg­is­ter­ing. If your app sup­ports the abil­i­ty for users to try the app with­out reg­is­ter­ing, then you should ex­per­i­ment with ask­ing them to reg­is­ter lat­er on, when they are more en­gaged. Quo­ta­tion need­ed.


Keep it sim­ple: don’t over­whelm the us­er with too much in­for­ma­tion. Your users aren’t go­ing to read through reams and reams of in­for­ma­tion, let alone re­mem­ber it all. Keep your con­tent bite-sized. Think about try­ing to keep you walk­through to a max­i­mum of three cards. Any more than that, and your users may start to lose in­ter­est. When you are writ­ing each card, you should try and make the copy as con­cise as pos­si­ble. Try to pro­vide the max­i­mum amount of in­for­ma­tion us­ing a min­i­mum num­ber of words. You should al­so try use verbs and ad­jec­tives.You want to quick­ly grab at­ten­tion and com­mu­ni­cate mean­ing.

Try and keep the time to com­plete the on­board­ing process to a min­i­mum. Gone are the days when peo­ple spend hours set­ting up apps. Time how long it takes some­one to com­plete the on­board­ing process. Does it take up­wards of 5 min­utes? That’s prob­a­bly too long. If the on­board­ing is tak­ing a long time to com­plete and your users are start­ing to get bored, then you don’t want them to look for an ear­ly ex­it point by clos­ing the app. If pos­si­ble, track when the us­er be­comes dis­en­gaged by lis­ten­ing to rel­e­vant op­er­at­ing sys­tem no­ti­fi­ca­tions. For ex­am­ple, in iOS you can be alert­ed when the app moves out of the fore­ground.

Show rather than tell. If you can of­fer a sub­set of your func­tion­al­i­ty to show off the pow­er of your app, then you should try that. Ac­tive learn­ing is much more ef­fec­tive than pas­sive.



Slack is one of my favourite apps right now. It has a beau­ti­ful and thought­ful in­ter­face. Their walk­through has a very friend­ly ui, with large fonts, clean tran­si­tions, and a skip but­ton so that users don’t get trapped. Their walk­through con­tains val­ue and func­tion­al stat­ic in­for­ma­tion. Fur­ther­more, they have one of the most thoughtout lo­gin / reg­is­tra­tion walk flows that I have ex­pe­ri­enced.

Slack Onboarding
Slack On­board­ing


Sound­cloud is a good ex­am­ple of a val­ue and func­tion­al based walk­through. It is a min­i­mal­ist walk­through that us­es sub­tle an­i­ma­tion and colour to draw at­ten­tion. They don’t force users to com­plete the walk­through by hav­ing an ev­er present “start lis­ten­ing” call to ac­tion.

Soundcloud Onboarding
Sound­cloud On­board­ing


UX Archive

UX Ar­chive pro­vides lots of screen­shots for how oth­er apps have im­ple­ment­ed their ver­sion of on­board­ing. Lots of in­spi­ra­tion here.


Pt­trns, as above, pro­vides ex­am­ples of app on­board­ing. Though, I find this web app to be a lit­tle hard­er to nav­i­gate.

User onboard teardowns

Us­er on­board tear­downs pro­vides de­tailed and in­ter­ac­tive walk­through tear­downs. Points out some flaws in app walk­throughs. Though, I found that some of the com­ments were a bit picky.

Other Onboarding explanations

Here is a list of oth­er sites that I re­searched when writ­ing this ar­ti­cle:

  • Infographic: ab testing goes mobile <>__
  • Mobile optimisation ideas <>__
  • 7 tips to improve mobile onboarding <>__


DevGrowth Hacking


Here you will find articles on an ambitious plan to travel from Singapore to Morocco overland, i.e. without flying.

I will use buses and trains to travel through South East Asia, China, Mongolia, Russia, and Europe.

Read about The Plan So Far.