They open your app to the first page where you have the perfect welcome message paired with that gorgeous lifestyle image.

The second page where you spent countless hours trying to find the exact way to phrase each bullet of your five fabulous features.

The next page where…. Oh, your user already flipped past them all without reading? And is now using your app with a look of confusion and frustration before hitting the home button, never to open it again?

You told them everything they needed to know, why didn’t they read it? Because you made them work for it.

Human brains have the amazing ability to instantly recognize a tiger among a forest of shifting leaves. We have a primal ability to ignore distractions and reserve energy for survival. Do you know what takes a lot of energy? Reading. Neuromarketing researcher Dr. Christophe Morin, founder and CEO of SalesBrain, tells us that you must first grab your users on a deeper level before you can reach them with facts or features. Applying the principles of obtaining engagement to the onboarding process we get three steps:


To ask someone to read is to ask them to turn on the part of their brain that evolved much later – the thinking, reasoning, brilliant part. You need to convince them that it’s worth it. To do this, you need to appeal to their emotional, instinctual, animal part of the brain and show them that your app will be the key to their survival! Okay, maybe not really, but it does help to show them their hurt and how you can help. When you’re introducing them to your app, start by addressing why they needed your app in the first place! If you’ve got a weather app, show them how they’d be caught in the rain without you.


The most common onboarding screen has a cute illustration paired with a sentence, nice and simple. If you take away that sentence, does the picture still make sense? MIT researchers found that the human brain can interpret images in just 13 milliseconds – why not use that to your advantage? If possible, try to demonstrate what people can do with your app by showing instead of telling.


Besides not wanting to read, the other reason people want to blow through your onboarding is because they want to get to the meat of the app. Most people assume they’ll be able to figure your app out without you teaching them how, and hopefully that is the case, so make sure your onboarding is also informing them what they can do with your app, not just point out the UI.

And by keeping with my own advice, I’m going to write fewer words and leave you with this: Your readers will only remember a portion of what you tell them, so make sure only the important stuff makes the cut.