A Guide to Seamless User Journeys for Mobile Apps

smartphones with app user journey

The average smartphone user has over 80 apps on their phone, yet only launches 9 per day. With millions of apps already existing in the app space and many more in the process of being developed, it is essential that each app has intentional design and purpose, as well as being easy to navigate, in order to be in with a chance of app success. The ideal customer experience is a set of interactions that consistently exceed the needs and expectations of a customer. Providing the optimal user journey can even result in customers becoming advocates for the app, increasing retention and creating profitable growth. 

What makes a user journey seamless?

Whilst users do find an attractive UI appealing, real success lies in combining appealing visuals with a functional and convenient user experience. The success of an app is largely dependent on retention. An intuitive navigation system, for example, will outperform a futuristic design with a confusing user journey. The factors that are most integral to a seamless app user experience are:

  • Intuitive design
  • Clear onboarding
  • Focusing on engagement and retention elements
  • Gamification

Case Studies

Duolingo, Kitchen Stories and Elevate are just three examples of mobile apps that we believe to display seamless user journeys. This post will cover what makes the app experience in these three case studies successful, providing insight into how you can ensure that your mobile app also provides a seamless user experience.


Duolingo gamification strategy - user journey


When developing an app, the layout of content and design should be such that users can be quickly educated on how to use the app. In fact, one of the main factors behind users commonly abandoning an app shortly after having downloaded it is poor user onboarding.

The Duolingo app has had immense success as a free tool to learn new languages. Its effective onboarding strategy enables you to choose the language you want to learn and determine your proficiency level before experiencing a short taster session. All the while, the app provides an introduction on how to use the app. This strategy allows the user to get a feel for the app and how it works before having created a profile. The key to gaining active users is ensuring they understand the functionality of the whole app through an effective onboarding process. The creation of a Duolingo profile is also limited to providing a username and email address during registration, speeding up the onboarding process and preventing drop-offs. 


Once a user is active, Duolingo provides further instructions on how to use its leaderboard, where you can compete with your network, concurrently promoting app-sharing amongst friends. In order to be a part of the leaderboard you need to have completed a lesson that week – persuading users to regularly interact with the app. The more you use the app, the more benefits you are able to gain, such as increasing levels and gaining extra in-app currency or additional lives. Duolingo clearly understands the importance of user activation as it provides in-app benefits for those who successfully complete lessons for 7 days in a row, incentivizing users to interact with the app for a full week. Gamification of the Duolingo app helps to increase engagement and retain loyal users, enhancing the overall learning experience and enabling the user to absorb a greater amount of information.

User Retention

Duolingo additionally sends regular push notifications and emails to remind users to complete their daily tasks, bringing users back to the app. Engaging with your users by adding elements of personalisation or encouraging the language of choice in push notifications and emails will help to build a meaningful relationship between the app and the user.

Kitchen Stories Recipes

Kitchen Stories Recipes in-app functionality - user journey


Kitchen Stories Recipes’ success hasn’t gone unnoticed, with the app being selected as editors choice as well as being featured on the App Store. Upon opening the app, the background consists of a compilation of cooking videos, providing enticing visuals and highlighting the purpose of the app. As with Duolingo, users are able to explore the app prior to signing up, providing them with a clear onboarding experience at the same time. After providing a username and email address users are then able to get full access to the app; creating cookbooks, favouriting recipes and adding items to their shopping list. Top tips will pop up throughout the user journey, where appropriate, to reveal how to make full use of the app and its features, giving the user a deeper understanding of the app’s full functionality. This is called progressive onboarding, it is an intuitive way of giving users information when they most need it rather than inundating them with information when they first enter the app.

In-app Features

The purpose of the app is to simplify every step of the cooking process. This is evident in the videos that are provided for almost every recipe to help visualise the instructions as well as a step-by-step written recipe. This also includes ‘how-to videos’ for cooking techniques that may be foreign to the audience. Additionally, the app allows you to set timers within the app, whilst continuing with the recipe, making the whole process seamless because it is intuitive to the user’s needs – offering multi-functional features to ensure the user journey doesn’t break. 


After using the app for a little while Kitchen Stories Recipes sends an in-app notification recommending that ‘good food is best shared, so spread the word’. This incentivizes people to share the app with others with the expectation that they will then be able to share recipes and cook together, simultaneously encouraging organic acquisition.

Customer feedback

Using app store reviews Kitchen Stories Recipes have been able to gain in-depth customer feedback. This immediately reveals the needs and wishes of the app’s users as well as monitoring for potential problems such as bugs or missing information in the customer journey. Responding to user feedback will also increase retention rates as users are more likely to continue using the app if they feel that their feedback was valued and their complaint has been resolved. 


Elevate onboarding strategy - user journey


Elevate has been recognised by Apple as the Best App of the Year in the United States, granting it instantaneous status. It can be assumed that Apple has deemed the user experience to be highly progressive, but this analysis delves further into why this is the case. To start off, upon opening the app, you are taken through a step-by-step process with clear explanations for every action, consequently providing a progressive onboarding experience. 

In-app Functionality

Prior to starting any challenges the user is required to partake in an initial EPQ test to establish their intelligence in each field, consequently optimising the user experience moving forward as each challenge is adjusted according to the users abilities. The app also provides clear instructions with imagery before every round to ensure the user understands the challenge prior to starting. A clear user journey enables the user to understand the full value of the app.


Once the user has completed their tasks for the day they can track their achievements and progress in each subsection, as well as measure themselves against other users of their age. This helps users analyse their progression, visualise their achievements in comparison to the norm and want to compete to be better – all of which encourages greater interaction with the app. Gamification in this example provides users the opportunity to see the real world, providing them with a first-hand look at how their choices within the game result in consequences or rewards.

Where to start

Duolingo, Kitchen Stories Recipes and Elevate all reveal that the foundations of a seamless user journey start with the ability for a user to pick up where they left off, providing a transparent technology-human interaction. Users need to be placed at the centre of the app journey, focussing on what they want as opposed to an internally-focused agenda. Furthermore, the challenge of a seamless user experience is not only complicated due to the multiple design and technology components, but also due to the numerous people involved in developing it. These individuals need to have mutual values and objectives when it comes to the app and they must all be aware of the experience that the user should have throughout. The key factors to focus on in order to ensure success are:

  • Creating a clear customer vision
  • Ensuring an effective onboarding strategy
  • Creating simple and intuitive user navigation
  • Capturing customer feedback in real time

How Yodel Mobile can help 

Yodel Mobile is an Agile and holistic consultancy, aligning the views of the marketing and product teams into an app growth strategy. We work across the whole app user journey, understanding the wider business needs throughout. This methodology enables long-term sustainable growth and success, and we’ve done so for over 200 apps since our launch in 2007. Want to find out more? Get in touch here.

Make sure to sign up to our newsletter to get notified when we release a new blog post. Want to find out more about optimising your app and keeping up with the latest OS capabilities? Make sure to subscribe to our Mastering Mobile Marketing video series. You can also get in touch by visiting the Contact Us page. Follow us on LinkedIn, chat with us on Twitter @yodelmobile, and join our #AppMarketingUK LinkedIn group.

Smokehouse Yard, 44-46, St John Street, London, EC1M 4DF 🇬🇧

Smokehouse Yard, 44-46, St John Street, London, EC1M 4DF 🇬🇧