User onboarding is an essential part of product definition. Period. It has so much to do with an app’s success — really, it can make or break it. Done right, it’ll result in people coming back to use the app again and again.

What is user onboarding all about?

Great user onboarding feels effortless, natural even. It should demonstrate value and bridge the gap between users’ expectations and what the product can help them achieve.

The Instruction-Action onboarding framework is based on strategically playing with the 2 building blocks of the user onboarding process:

  • Instruction elements
  • Action elements

Instruction elements

Instruction elements are your best friends. Be it annotations, modals, or any other bits of copy, use instruction elements to efficiently communicate to the user how to use the app so they can discover its core value.

Some of the most popular instruction elements:

Action elements

The actions someone takes in a product are triggered by carefully designed persuasion elements. Ideally, such elements are a combination of motivational and instructional content so that the user has the reasons to perform a task and also knows how to do so.

When it comes to action elements, think of strategic design elements: clear calls to action and suitable visuals that act as a trigger for the user. The smallest arrow can have a big impact. Signal to the user that they’re on the right track. Instead of guessing whether they should click or swipe, the user will feel encouraged to take action.

Examples of action elements:

In any given user onboarding process, instruction elements and action elements work together to lead the user where they can experience the product’s value. How you combine these 2 types of elements depends on the purpose of the screens and the overall logic of the onboarding process.

Some typical examples of purposes app screens can have:

  • Browse through the primary features of the app
  • Present best practices within the app
  • Collect basic user account information in order to set up the app, tailored to the person using it
  • Explain a feature while allowing the user to experience it at the same time; useful and fun
  • Upsell your app’s capabilities: show people the app’s capabilities and offer a glimpse of what more it could do with just a little financial support on their behalf

For more details on how to work with instruction and action elements, check the full article.

Conclusion

A good mobile product deserves a solid user onboarding strategy. Don’t limit yourself to the product itself. Start planning by taking a close look at your app’s core value and make it obvious every chance you get. Be it an ad for the app or an onboarding screen, everything has to make a valuable statement about the product and its capabilities.

A Framework for Designing a Better User Onboarding Experience

PS. Here’s a part of the user onboarding experience on GrowRevenue newsletter: