What’s your favorite app onboarding experience?


I like Tinder’s onboarding flow because it makes a really tasteful tradeoff between mandatory on-boarding and no onboarding at all. What it does is it explains what buttons are as you click them— swiping left, right, up, down. Gmail’s onboarding is super irritating because it forces you to click stuff you already know. Most on-boarding is stuff you want to click past. Onboarding in general will always be like that. Tinder’s was designed to be least obtrusive. You get a small explainer only when you clicked a specific button.


I love Duo Lingo’s on-boarding! Why?

  • The value prop is clear and compelling — “Learn a language for free. Forever”
  • Feels playful — the UI looks fun and feels like a video game
  • Gets the user feeling a sense of ownership of the experience they are about to have — “I want to learn…[SELECT LANGUAGE]”
  • Uses lots of emotional connection — e.g. a cartoon globe, a cute green cartoon bird, etc.
  • Gets users to learn by doing — “Click or Hover over these words to see their translation”
  • Dopamine hit — you get through the tour and feel like you’re learning and accomplishing things
  • Gets user to make a commitment — “Set a daily XP goal”
  • Only asks for login information at the end, after showing the value prop of DuoLingo


My favorite onboarding experience is no onboarding experience. Apps that sync accounts and data with another service like a web app will need at least some kind of login flow. Otherwise, a unique identifier for the user can be saved on their keychain, to allow seamless transitioning of data between devices. Unfortunately many apps don’t do this because tracking the user and harvesting their data is part of the business model for many free apps.

An app should not need a long tutorial either. The UX of an app should be simple enough for users to figure it out on their own. If a certain action need an explanation, it’s better to wait until the user is ready to perform that action.

An example of an app that does onboarding in a non-intrusive way is the app for TED Talks:

  • On app launch you are taken directly to the content – it’s what the user is seeking in the first place.
  • If you want to sync your talks and playlists with the ted.com website, you tap the profile icon and login.
  • Logging in is optional and opt-in. The app is completely useable without having an account.
  • The app doesn’t bother the user with dialogs to enable push notifications. It is done at a later time when the app has provided some value to the user.

(disclaimer: the author worked on much of this functionality)


I like Zippie’s onboarding because it tackles a common, identifiable problem in blockchain and has excellent UX: https://zippie.org/onboard-through-zippie/

I’ve tried it and it only takes 10 seconds.


I find Medium’s onboarding.
It is easy to see why, especially when compared to all the other applications with similar features.

  1. Once you login using twitter API, it takes you to a list of articles that might be of interest to you.
  2. The choice of light colours is helpful and app feels like a breeze to use.
  3. It picks up where you left of reading and asks you once you open the app. You can just swipe and it will vanish.


I loved headspace.com’s original onboarding UI.

They’ve upgraded their UI since but I managed to find a screen shot of the original.

Headpsace is a meditation app. There can be a lot of fuss around meditation in general and their UI did an excellent job of removing out all the unnecessary religious connotations that sometimes come with meditation apps.

No extra buttons, and bells, or whistles .

Just a simple little timeline.

There was nothing you could do but sit down and meditate though the timeline one session at a time.

Once you got through all 10 sessions the app opened up and there were different packs and features and bits, but that on-boarding experience was golden.

Their new design is a pleasure but I do think they lost something.


I signed up for the Robinhood investing app a few weeks ago. It was easy and fast. I liked that it had fingerprint login, easily connected to my bank account to add funds via api login (instead of entering account and routing numbers) and made the funds instantly available for trading. The interface is super clean and the swiping for trading is kind of fun compared to just tapping.