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What is the most user friendly way to get users to make an account in a mobile app?

Is the best way to not allow the user to use the app before they create an account, or do you allow them to use the app and make them decide whether they want an account or not?

I see advantages and disadvantages with both methods.

If you dont allow the user to use the app before, how do the user know if he/she find it helpful?

If you allow the user to use the app freely, how do you then encourage the user to create an account?

Does anyone have good experience with either methods, or perhaps a third used method that has proven to be succesful?

The way the current development app is designed, the second option would be most fitting, but I see a lot of apps going in the other direction and almost force users to create an account before allowing access. Is this really the best way to go?

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    Well the first question to ask is - Why do you want them to make an account? – JonW Jun 10 '16 at 9:45
  • @JonW We want users to create an account to be able to give the user a more personalised experience based on their behaviour. – Casper Pedersen Jun 16 '16 at 11:08
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I personally prefer the Second method since it ensures two things.

  1. Quality onboarding and diving right into what your app provides. If getting a user to register is your mission, the quality of onboarding needs to be on point. This leads to more creative solutions on how one can give the user an immersive and awesome experience and then at the Success/ Final screen, have a Register via XYZ button. You can use the SDKs to ensure that this is true only for the first launch and help the user for a Registration process from the next launch if you want to enforce it on them.

  2. It helps the user to decide if the app is worth registering for. If the app doesn't really require an Email ID, for example, an Alarm app, it's much better to follow the second approach rather than asking unnecessary information and frightening the user. Also, this means that you know how many users actually register post their first use, which is always a good sign.

In the case of using the First method, 2 things to keep in mind.

  1. Make sure you have a Facebook/ Google/ Email ID/ Phone Number registration. No one likes to fill a form to login. These above logins have about 3 taps before the user can start using your app. In the case of Facebook and Google, the API does it all. However, in the case of an Email, make sure you send them a verification mail and allow them to use the app without having them to open up the email app and verify it. This will ensure a smooth onboarding flow without getting the user distracted by sending them to their inbox.
  2. Now, after the first usage of the app, if the user has still not verified their mail, you could prompt them to do so using a simple snack bar message or a notation to register.
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You can make access open and restrict access to some key features until a user has created an account - if a user tries to access the restricted features you can prompt them to create the account.

Another approach is to make the barrier to entry very low, i.e. only ask for an e-mail address, and nothing else (not a password, username, etc.) The lower the barrier to entry, the more likely that someone will create an account. You can always prompt/convince them to fill out the remainder of the details at a later stage.

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