Here's the best we have right now. It's 7 steps for UserB.
We use email address for usernames.
Can we do better?

  • UserA adds UserB, in app, via email address.

    1. UserB receives welcome email.
      Subject "UserA wants you to join them in AppName!"
      Body Button: "Click here to join UserA."
    2. Button in the email body links to web page.
    3. Web page asks for password then user clicks Submit.
    4. Web page sniffs OS and opens the correct app store on AppName.
    5. UserB installs the app.
    6. UserB logs into the app.
    7. UserB starts interacting with UserA.
  • Didn't got why asking for password in third point? – divy3993 Sep 27 '16 at 5:02
  • The user doesn't yet have a password. This is the step where they chose it so they will be able to log into the app. – GollyJer Sep 27 '16 at 15:59

OK, this is where drawing user flows comes handy.

See, in your scenario you're assuming the user will read the welcome mail on a mobile device. But... what if the user opens the mail on a desktop or laptop device? How will you sniff anything? What if the user has 2 mobile devices with different OS but only one of those is the preferred one? Just in case, I didn't even need to think long on this: it's exactly my case. I never, EVER check mail on mobile, only desktop, laptop or iPad. And I have several mobile devices, 2 of them I use primarily, only one of them is the preferred one.

You may say

"OK, but most people actually DO check their mails on mobile"

, which may actually be correct for most demographics. Then.... why don't you use this for your advantage? Instead of all those steps, sending user to some web page to maybe discover that she is using the wrong device then abandon journey is the only way to go, simply do this:

  1. Send mail. Body of mail includes "Download on Apple Store" link (then Android, Windows, whatever). Most users will know that apps need to be downloaded from a mobile (also tablets, but this will depend on your app)
  2. user installs app and logs with mail address, choosing password on first use
  3. That was really it

This way, there are only 2 simple steps, no ambiguity on OS or friction on what to do, it really is as simple as this.

Alternatively, you can use a different approach: instead of sending mails, send messages using mobile only apps (such as whatsapp) That way you'll also avoid people opening the welcome message on a desktop or laptop computer.

Final disclaimer

Please note that your app and the target for your app are of paramount importance. There are lots of studies about messaging usage based on age, country and what not. For example, on most countries, if your app is for young audiences, just ditch the whole mail approach and go for a messaging app or social media login.

These different demographic preferences will tell you a lot more than you may imagine and you need to be very sure about them since they will accurately guide your steps

  • Yeah, maybe we're trying to be too smart by half. The real problem we we're trying to get around is passing known user data to the app. Because we know who they are we are hoping to use that to our advantage in the flow. Your step #2 is actually a lot more than what you posted. The login screen has to handle users intalling the app on their own and creating an account in addition to those who were invited and "already have a psuedo account", and those that already have a full account. – GollyJer Sep 27 '16 at 16:06
  • @GollyJer well, of course I don't know the full details (hence the recommendations are as wide as possible, with some implicit vagueness) , but anyways, this is related to your internal process, which I don't know. My answer is about the user experience and how users will interact with this part of the process at this specific stage – Devin Sep 27 '16 at 16:33

In the current flow, the user will need to sign in twice. I would recommend bypassing #3 (Web page asks for password then user clicks Submit) and sniffing right away to see if the app has been installed or not.

By passing a unique identifier/token from the invitation email, I believe it's technically possible to skip that extra step.

  • Cool. I didn't realize you could pass an identifier to the app directly. This changes things quite a bit. Thanks! – GollyJer Sep 27 '16 at 15:58

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