Getting someone to register for your app only needs to happen once, but it is an extremely important step in the mobile onboarding experience. There are major benefits to having users register, like the ability to contact your users in the future with new features, and many times users can benefit from registering as well, such as when they are offered discounts.

Because there is such great importance placed on this step of app registration, there is a very real need to get it right by delivering the best user experience (UX) possible in an app.

Appsee studied 100 apps in a variety of industries, including health and fitness, games, retailers, news, social networking, and finance, in order to determine what users’ login preferences are, how long registration takes on average, and the number of registrations fields apps tend to use, all of which impact mobile UX.

This is the first research to show that users prefer to manually register for an app (56.5%) by creating a unique account with an email address, whereas only 43.5% opted to log in via Facebook. Registering with email requires users to complete multiple text fields, yet the majority still preferred email registration to the social login option, though it only requires a tap or two.

Among the discoveries uncovered in our research is how critical the number of text fields is when it comes to a smooth user experience. Fewer fields lead to a faster, more convenient registration for users, but more fields provide more data to businesses, creating a need to find a delicate balance between the two. The study found that the average number of text fields in apps with email registration is 3.8, and 35% of apps had four text fields. Because mobile devices have such limited screen space, there are UI limitations that will make more than four text fields difficult for users, likely requiring them to swipe down or take more time to fill out the form, which can impact registration rates.

Additionally, the study showed that the average time spent on a registration screen is 36 seconds. It is important that all the time a user spends on that screen is used for filling out forms and not dealing with any sort of technical or usability issue. Poor UX at the onboarding process will turn a user off to the app and signal problems down the line, discouraging a user from returning.

Based on our research, there are four main takeaways app developers and app designers can obtain:

  1. Offer users a hybrid approach to registration, with options for email and social login.
  2. Only collect the data absolutely necessary from users and relevant to the app’s function to avoid superfluous text fields.
  3. If possible, limit registration text fields to four or fewer, speeding up the process and increasing the likelihood of improved registration rates. If more fields are needed, direct users to additional screens.
  4. Use proper user experience analysis of the registration and onboarding processes to detect and remove problems, such as technical or usability issues, from these processes.

Below, please find an infographic based on this research, summarizing the findings in mobile user behavior for the app registration process.

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* This article originally appeared on the Appsee blog