If you’re an app startup and/or aspiring unicorn there are literally thousands of articles to help you. User experience is mentioned in some of them, but it’s rarely given the level of importance it deserves.

For everyone with unicorn aspirations.

For everyone with unicorn aspirations.

In fact, for app startups a good user experience may be the most important source of competitive advantage. This is, of course, assuming you have a good idea and monetization strategy to begin with.

Your mobile user experience matters! It’s your first impression and it’s what keeps your users coming back.

Faster Adoption, Lower Abandonment

If you want to be a successful app startup, you need to build your daily active user base. Fast. Psychology tells us that you only have seven seconds to make a first impression. Those seven seconds are so important to adoption because nearly a quarter of all apps are opened once and then never again. The same source reports that Sports and Game apps rank the highest for abandonment with 23% and 22% single-open rates respectively.


To get more people to use your app take a critical look at your onboarding process. A seamless onboarding experience can significantly reduce app abandonment rates. Good user experience is invisible. If you need to explain you app during onboarding, then your UX is not intuitive enough. It should be re-evaluated.


If your app requires users to register you’re setting up a roadblock to adoption. If it makes sense, consider a ‘proceed as guest’ alternative to registration.

Better User Retention and Engagement

61% of users will use your app 10 times or less. Does your app user experience incentivize continuous use? Most of the time your app’s core functionality won’t be enough to bring users back. Hint for weather apps: it’s really not! Your overall mobile user experience will be what makes the difference to users. A delightful experience is what’s going to bring people back time a time again.

Show Users Only What They Need

Don’t bombard your users with a ton of information or tasks right away. Show your users only what they need to see when they need to see it. This goes for onboarding, account set up, functional tasks, and everything else. There is no need to overwhelm your users.

Push Notifications

Users that opt into push notifications tend to have 88% higher app engagement. “Great!” You say. “Let’s get pushing”! However, there is a fine line between being helpful and being annoying with push notifications. According to 71% of respondents, annoying push notifications is the #1 reason people uninstall your app.

Think quality over quantity. Think segmentation. Notifications ought to be used only when the user needs them. You don’t have a right to interrupt your user whenever you feel like it. Test your notifications to find out which is most user-centric. If they provide value, then users will opt-in to receive them.

Prototyping = Validation

The purpose of prototyping your product is to confirm market acceptance and validation of key features, right? So why develop a full ‘MVP’ when a fleshed out functional prototype can be done faster, cheaper, and with less risk.

Prototypes in a program like Axure are testable for both usability testing as well as market validation testing. They’re supportive of quick iteration and built to be collaborative.

Don’t Be a Hero

As a founder you’re being pulled in a ton of different directions all at once. Funding, marketing, growth, the product, the people, clients, your own work-life balance, the list goes on and on!

Do yourself and your company a favour and focus on the things you can add the most value to. If your app user experience is one of them, then awesome! If it’s not the place where you have the time or the skills to add the most value then consider working with a consultancy you trust. Someone wise once said that as an owner you should work on your business, not in it.