With user onboarding being such an important part of any successful app, we tend to stand up and take notice whenever someone nails it. That’s why today we’d like to point you in the direction of one such app – Duolingo.

Duolingo is quite a popular app, which allows users to learn the basics of twenty-nine languages, brush up on their existing knowledge and even go stunningly in depth. Besides teaching new languages, it can also educate mobile professionals on how to perfectly execute personalization and build a contemporary mobile UI.

Duolingo is an amazing app for many reasons, including comprehensive tools for numerous  languages, and having great user support. However, we’ll be focusing on its onboarding solutions as onboarding is considered quite the challenge, and this app executes it flawlessly.

Duolingo’s user onboarding familiarizes users with its features without getting in the users’ way, or making them work extra just to be able to use the app. Let’s dive into what makes Duolingo’s user onboarding that much better than the rest:


The welcome screen

duolingo's user onboarding 1
Image Source: Appsee


The first thing users encounter when they bring up the app is a short, four-slide onboarding which briefly explains what the app is all about. Many app pros make the mistake of using this opportunity to promote their app’s various features. The (harsh) reality is that users oftentimes:

1) Want to explore the app on their own

2) Will not remember features of an app they’re just beginning to explore

3) Can’t be bothered to go through something that’s essentially a user manual

Instead, what this space should be used for is to differentiate the app from the competition in terms of value offered. That’s where Duolingo shines. It doesn’t bore people with what it can do – it shows them what they’ll get. Messages like ‘learning through games’ and solid learning process tracking are conveyed here and it works great. The design of the slides themselves is minimalist, and that’s the proper way to go. After all – Duolingo wants to ‘get out of its users’ way’ as fast as possible. The messages are short and succinct, as they should be.


Registering an account

duolingo's user onboarding 2
Image Source: Appsee


Just as the onboarding sliders, many users see forced registration as a roadblock and an unnecessary chore that they need to do. Yet apps like Duolingo, which run on a high level of personalization, having an account is quite important. It is paramount to strike the perfect balance between “getting in the users’ way” and having users want to create an account themselves. Duolingo’s solution to the problem warrants a slow clap.

First it draws the user in – shows which languages they can learn and to which extent. It then  offers daily goals and different learning paths. It even tries to motivate the users. Only after going through the first few lessons does it then offer users to create an account, with a positive, succinct message:

“Time to create a profile, to save your progress and continue learning for free”.

This message is crucial. It first shows the user what the app has to offer, and then describes what the benefits of having an account are, including personalized lessons and the ability to track one’s progress. The registration process itself is as short and fast as it can and should possibly be:


duolingo's user onboarding 3
Image Source: Appsee


Users need to submit just three things: username, password and a valid email address. Password creation doesn’t have any strict requirements like capital letters, numbers or special symbols. Given that Duolingo doesn’t store any sensitive information about the user, this simplistic design is a good path to take. It makes account creation fast – it doesn’t feel like a chore but a natural progression.


What happens next?

Duolingo's user onboarding 4
Image Source: Appsee


There’s a common misconception that onboarding ends when users start actually using the app. Duolingo knows this isn’t true. It makes sure users stay engaged with the app and learn more about it every time they return through progressive onboarding. With such an approach, Duolingo is able to simplify the complex workflow that comes with learning a new language. It also allows users high levels of personalization, a necessary feat knowing that learning a new language is a unique experience for each individual.

For example, in case a user is confused about a certain lesson, he/she can bring up the forum (just a tap away) to look for answers from the community.

And finally, learning a new language is hard, and mistakes are bound to be made. Frequent mistakes, as you might imagine, can seriously discourage people and have them quit altogether. After making a few chained mistakes, the app will tell the user this:

duolingo's user onboarding 5
Image Source: Appsee


This is yet another way the app shows two things:

1) that it understands its users, their challenges and pain points

2) that it knows what it takes to keep users coming back for more

It provides users with the necessary motivation, and the level of user friendliness and service they’ve grown to expect in 2017.

Building an amazing app is hard on its own – so building it for a difficult task like language learning makes it twice as challenging. Yet Duolingo manages to absolutely nail it. One of the reasons why the app is so successful is its potent and charming onboarding strategy. A combination of value, speed, convenience and understanding has users sticking around and coming back for more – a feat which even entertainment apps have a hard time achieving.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is how you do it. What do you think? In the meantime, we’re going back to learn some more French. It’s about time we learn a few more phrases than just Omelette du Fromage.

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