Akhila Nageswaram

The FTUE Story - Turns out 1 in 2 new users decide if they need your mobile app in less than a minute.

Once users go through your onboarding sequence, they are expected to explore, understand and find value in using your app. But first-time users rarely do what you expect them to.
Akhila Nageswaram

For a product guy, a user’s First Time User Experience in his mobile app is like meeting his girlfriend’s dad for the first time.

He obsesses over what he’s wearing and tries to achieve a decent-yet cool beard length. On meeting, his attempt at a friendly handshake is dismissed with a mere wave of the hand while Economic Times accustomed eyes scan him from head to toe.

But a few tense moments later, they open up and conversation flows easily. He can’t help but wonder what is going through the older man’s mind… What does he think of me? Is my outfit okay? Did he find my anecdote about college funny? Is he comparing me to other potential matches in his head? Ooof, better not go there.

As illustrated by my elaborate analogy, as new users go through your mobile app’s FTUE, they too leave many questions unanswered.

They hit that all-important download button, wait for the app to install and go through your onboarding sequence. Yet, in less than a minute almost half of new installs everyday uninstall the app, never to be seen again. Just like in our meeting earlier, there are too many unknowns.

A quick google search points us to articles that offer tips to improve a user’s FTUE in an app. There are a wide variety of suggestions from reducing the app size, skipping the login page, adding an onboarding tutorial and so on.

These tips might work well in some cases, but usually only bring about an unperceivable change in your FTUE metrics.

Here’s the deal, measuring and improving FTUE requires a methodical approach. Let’s break it down.

A 20% improvement in D1 retention leads to a 50% improvement in D30 retention.

Another take on measuring FTUE

Once users go through your onboarding sequence, they are expected to explore, understand and find value in using your app. But first-time users rarely do what you expect them to.

Most of the key information required to understand what these users experience is not captured. For example, the user interactions, app environment at that instant and the factor of time at every stage in the user’s app experience come into play while analysing these users. It is this very transient data that speaks volumes about the user’s intent, their expectation from the app and the very reason they dropped of less than a minute after they start using your app.

The very approach to FTUE needs refinement. Users who uninstall the app on D0 cannot be analysed the same way as users who are retained for their lifetime in the app.

Let’s look at some methodical approaches to understanding and improving the all improving FTUE.

Identify and utilize your D0 Opportunity segment

For mobile apps, addressing the D0 churn problem head-on is tricky. While some of it is a given, in our experience, if you have a D0 churn less than 28% (can be higher based on the vertical), consider yourself lucky.

Good news is, a sizable chunk of Day 0 churn is retainable as it consists of potential customers who were keen to use your app yet they left. Identify these churned users based on their behaviour and interactions that are specific to your app.

Getting to this D0 opportunity segment requires a scientific approach.

For a content-based app in the news space that is looking to engage its users with personalized news feeds, some first session factors to consider while identifying their D0 opportunity segment.

  • Time spent in personalisation (Selecting interests)
  • User Interaction Patterns like no. of scrolls per time spent, no. of content bounds reached etc
  • No. of complete articles read
  • Total time spent

Analysing D0 uninstalled users based on these factors brings forth the opportunity segment.

Likewise, figure out the D0 opportunity segment specific to your app and channelize your efforts on retaining them.

Get to know your thresholds

The most important factor when it comes to optimising D0 churn for FTUE is finding their Uninstall Threshold, the chance a user gives the mobile app before they churn.

For example, in a coupons app, most first time users who do not find a coupon within the first 48 seconds are churned. Thresholds like these will dictate UI changes, shed light on underlying feature discovery and adoption issues in the app. Based on the threshold, changes like getting users to the desired coupon in less than 4 taps or within the prescribed time can be done.

User motivation dictates the uninstall threshold and changes from vertical to vertical. While there are users who spend upwards of 2 minutes in the app before they find value, there also are exasperated users who wait no more than 30 seconds for the same.

Designing the path to user activation that works within your Uninstall threshold is an effective way to handle D0 churn.

Qualitative user understanding

Yet another important approach to FTUE is how well one can understand new users. Whether a user lasts a lifetime in the app or churns on Day 0 is a factor of how he spent the first minute in the mobile app.

Qualitatively, understanding a new user’s journey sets a foundation for further quantitative analysis and actions. It helps you answer questions like,

  • How is he using the app?
  • What does my app look like to him?
  • What is he spending time on?
  • What is he liking in the app and how is he interacting with it?
  • Given a chance what kind of feedback will he give?

Understand user journeys holistically by analyzing user interactions, app performance and business events.

This helps you formulate assumptions that can be validated by quantitatively slicing and dicing your data. Your FTUE metrics like user activation and Uninstall Threshold should stem from a qualitative analysis that is vertical specific and not just from the metrics.


While analysing and understanding users is important, acting on them at the right time is what completes a great FTUE. There is only a short amount of user attention that is available at this stage and acting on them right then is just as critical as retaining these users for their lifetime. Being equipped with tools that provide personalized and powerful actions really comes in handy.

Here is an example of retaining the female users of a social networking app by contextually guiding them to privacy settings.

These are the next steps towards crafting an impressive FTUE. But these decisions need to be data-driven and acted upon in real time. There is more on measuring and improving FTUE for mobile apps coming up in the next post, subscribe to our newsletter to be notified.

Meanwhile, if there is anything interesting about how you work on your FTUE, we would love to hear it. Reach us at contact@apxor.com

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