Advice: How to Hold on to New Users / by Gavin Lau

“Across all industries 80% of all app users churn within 90 days.”


A PumpUp Case Study

Users are fickle and impatient. With access to infinite choices, users can forget an app’s existence quicker than it takes Google to complete a search. Creating a positive experience is imperative. What’s the best way to do this? Ensuring your app is easy-to-learn, fun to use, and meets user expectations.

Leveraging usability principles is one of the best ways to improve UI and interaction designs. (You should also be talking to your users and analyzing your app’s performance metrics.) To help illustrate this point, let’s look at PumpUp. PumpUp is a social fitness app that I think has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, I noticed some usability issues within the app that I suspect are turning people off.

Tip 1: Highlight Benefits & Allow Users to Explore

  1. Problem: Varying shades of blue and abstract shapes makes it hard to see the text and images. 
    Solution: Stick to one dark shade to improve the visibility of the text and images.
  2. Problem: How will the users become the best version of themselves? Solution: Have the tagline focus on the supportive fitness community.
  3. Problem: Requiring users to sign up before engaging with your app turns off most users. 
    Solution: Inform the users upfront why it’s in their best interest to sign up.

Example Solution

a. Creating an account isn’t required for users to explore, but it’s encouraged to get the full benefits of the app.

Tip 2: Minimize Assumptions

  1. Here the benefit of PumpUp is clear. This would be better on the home screen.
  2. Problem: Without labels, most users don’t know what an icon means. Solution: Include labels for the icons.
  3. Problem: The only icon the user can click on is the camera. Users first need to know if they will use an app before they decide to upload their photos to it. 
    Solution: Provide this option when a user decides to sign-in and create a profile.

Example Solution

a. Clear statement on Momento’s function and benefits.

b. Allows users to take a short tour or just dive in.

Tip 3: Encourage Exploration and Maximize Individualization

  1. Problem: Inability to skip tasks forces a commitment before the userexplore app. 
    Solution: Omit task or allow users the option to skip.
  2. Problem: Users may go through endless scrolling before they see people whose fitness goals relate to theirs. Ex. Ladies who lift. 
    Solution: Provide searchable categories.
  3. Problem: Users may get frustrated and pick three profiles they aren’t interested in just to move forward. 
    Solution: As stated before, allow users to skip this option.
  4. Problem: The people followed don’t immediately show up in the feed. If the idea was to promote the PumpUp account and show users other accounts, why was the first step necessary? 
    Solution: The user should have the ability to limit their feed to only the accounts they decide to follow.

Tip 4: Clarify Categories

  1. Problem: The “Top” and “People” categories contain the same profiles. What are the differences?
    Solution: Replace the “Top” category with “New,” it can feature new user accounts.
  2. The hashtag category is good. This allows users to search for people that align with their goals.

Tip 5: Narrow Focus and Limit User Commitment

  1. It’s good that the user gets to see different pictures from different accounts related to their goal at once.
  2. Problem: When the user clicks on one picture, they may expect to see more pictures from that person. However, when they scroll down, they see different profiles.
  3. Problem : The user is unable to simply select the profile to see more pictures, they have to follow the person. Again, a potentially unwanted commitment.
  4. Solution: Allow users to explore a particular profile before committing to follow.


PumpUp has the potential for great things. In order to fulfill that potential though, it has to meet the needs of its users. Adhering to usability principles helps ensure that an app makes a good first impression and encourages people to stick around. Combine this with analytics and user research (two topics I’ll be covering in upcoming posts) and you’ll have an app that’ll be the envy of your competition.