If the results of the Flurry Analytics study can be believed, cell phone users are accessing mobile apps for roughly 2 hours and 19 minutes a day along with 22 minutes spent surfing the mobile web. Big names like LinkedIn, Yahoo, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Google have reason to be excited because over a billion people are using their app. For less established companies and individuals, however, this isn’t good news. With over a million mobile apps between them according to TechCrunch, the iTunes App Store and Google Play have a natural head start. Here are seven qualities your mobile app will need in order to succeed in today’s market.
Since nobody wants to deal with an app that simply doesn’t work, it’s in your best interests to make sure that your mobile app works as planned. Most of the time, when an app isn’t functional, the problem can be traced back to an issue that took place during app development. Another common problem is when an app has too ambitious a scope. The solution? Match your programming language with your platform and focus on designing an app that specializes in one or two things.
Does your app add something to a user’s life? If not, chances are there won’t be a demand. To make sure that you’re designing an app people wants, do your research. Study similar apps, understand your demographics, and don’t be afraid to rely on statistics. Once you’ve found an under-served audience, you can design with their concerns in mind. Also, don’t worry about the rising cost of app development in your efforts to give more value to the users, because they will be recovered once people start downloading your app.
It’s possible to have a valuable idea and a functional app, but still never get anywhere due to questionable design. Since mobile devices have smaller screens, you have to take a different approach to mobile app design. Joseph Labrecque, University of Denver software engineer, cautions against getting too creative with your designs. Now that people are familiar with specific app designs, you don’t want to disrupt their comfort levels.
Consumers may try out an app for many reasons, but they’ll only stay if its user-friendly. That’s why the user interface of your app is so important. Generally speaking, you want to take a minimalist approach to interface elements. If you’re working on an eCommerce app, for example, the goal is to give users a positive shopping experience. Most of the time this means adding touches like unlimited scrolling so that customers can check out products without interruptions and making sure that the checkout button is large and in an accessible place.
On mobile devices, especially, consumers download apps on the assumption that content will load quickly. Going by research KISSmetrics has published, a delay of as little as one second can reduce conversions to the tune of seven percent. With mobile app development, this usually means compressing content where possible and avoiding links. The other key is to build your app according to your platform. Performance issues tend to crop up when developers try to cross-compile the same app for both Android and iOS. Using Objective-C with iOS devices and Java for Android will go a long way.
Between the ire of consumers and the lawsuits, copying an already successful app is potentially a recipe for disaster. Just ask Zynga. They were sued by Electronic Arts over “The Slims Social” in 2012. Similarly, after apps just like the popular “Flappy Bird” started flooding the marketplace, both Google and Apple began cracking down on copycats. What’s interesting about this is that the “Flappy Bird” imitations never took off like the original because end users were savvy enough to recognize the counterfeits.
7. Offline Capabilities
Apps that only work as well as their network signals are a source of frustration for consumers all over the web. To avoid angering users, an app that can store information locally is an idea worth exploring. Since both Android and iOS allow for the storage of local databases, there’s no reason to put out an app that without offline capabilities.
Here’s another interesting tidbit: Nielsen’s numbers suggest that US smartphone users have approximately 26 apps on average. If you pay close attention to details like local storage, uniqueness, user-friendliness, usefulness, functionality, and performance, are not surprised when your app starts showing up on people’s smartphones more often.
Sushrut Padhye is a computer engineer and an MBA from Deakin University living in Melbourne. He is a former ping pong champion who has written quotes, poems and articles on a range of topics. He currently works as a Digital Strategist for Elegant Media.