How To Design UX For Increased App User Retention

design ux for increased app user retention

We have been talking a lot about app releases lately. We recently penned two articles on marketing strategies you must follow before and after the release of your mobile app. What these marketing strategies do for your app is, skyrocket its visibility and consequently, downloads. However, what every seasoned entrepreneur, developer, or marketer is painfully aware of is, is that there’s one thing that as important as user acquisition, and that is user retention. Users who return to your app and use it regularly are the ones that define its success.

Instagram is a success not only because it has over  7.7 billion installs, but because it has over 1 billion people using it every month. It is this usage that makes it a successful mobile application. In this article, we’d like to touch base on how you can ensure customers engage with your app and return, through exceptional UX design.

P.S. The 2 marketing articles can be found here:

7 Marketing Strategies To Execute Before You Launch Your Mobile App [With Cheat Codes]

6 Strategies to Propel App Downloads

Getting back to the topic, here’s 4 things to keep in mind when designing UX, to ensure users return to your Mobile or Web Application.

1.Teach New Users How to Use the App

The only reason I would return to an application I found confusing on the first go would be to delete it. It’s not that I don’t consider myself smart enough to learn how it works, it is simply because I’m sure there are hundreds of apps out there that can give me what I want while being easy to use.

It’s true, the competition in the app market today is fierce. Even if your app is one of a kind, you can be sure many similar ones will pop up soon after its release. That being said, what can you do to ensure customers who have chosen your app continue to use it? The first step is to teach new users exactly how to use your app. And this where UX design comes in.

Well designed and structured tutorials are the right way to teach new users how to use your app.

  1. Complete tutorial on first use: If it is an app with few features, you can explain how to use it with a pop up slider tutorial on first load. Keep it simple, cover all points
  2. Contextual tutorials: If your app has many features it’s not wise to explain everything on first load. The user will be overwhelmed and will most likely forget. Use contextual tutorials – a pop up that gives the user information they need at a certain stage or section in the app.
  3. Teaching through an action: You can also encourage the user to use all features through nudges. ‘Swiping right likes this person, try it now’ is the message tinder displays until the user has tried it at least once.

2. Remind Them to Use the App

MyFitnessPal does this brilliantly. A simple ‘It’s been 3 days since you last tracked your calories, would you like to do it now?’ notification is very often the reason why I go back to the app. It reminds me to use it. I love the app, but the only reason I don’t log back in daily is that, with all my daily activities, I forget to. These reminders are crucial for people who want to visit your app but forget to.

When designing the app’s UX, plan for sections where you ask if the user should be notified. If it is useful to them, they will answer yes. This also gives you feedback of which features your users are finding useful, and which ones they aren’t.

3. Don’t Thank Them, Congratulate Them

They’ve uploaded 100 photos on to your platform? Don’t say ‘Thanks for being with us’, instead, say ‘Awesome, you’ve just uploaded your 100th photo! Here’s a cookie’. These make the user curious to know what other achievements are being celebrated. Celebrating these milestones also keeps the communication between your app and the user alive.

When designing your app’s UX plan for these pop up celebratory notifications, and plan ways to engage users further. Giving them an option to share this milestone, or redeem it for goodies is a good way to encourage further action.

4. Keep the Flow Simple

This one is a direct UX design tip. Yes, you might be the top of your class engineer with an IQ that rivals Einstein’s, but the rest of your app users might not be. Remember, you’re designing your mobile application for simpletons like them, and not for yourself. Keep the UX flow as simple as it can get, without compromising on functionality. A good trick is to use a UX board, with lines depicting the connection between pages, sections and buttons. If the lines are too many and too complex, you probably have a confusing UX designed. Try and simplify it.


There are of course multiple factors that influence user retention. Having worked on multiple apps and platforms, we’ve learnt that UX is a major factor, which is why when we, at Getafix Technologies, design and develop an application, we pay extreme focus to UX design. In fact, we spoke about this earlier: 4 Direct Consequences of Incredible UX Design. Drop in a message to know more.

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