Those pretty little icons adorning the home screens and menus of every smartphone today represent mobile apps that feed on data and trade on attention. Each is the equivalent of a shiny new toy – and have users hooked for hours, days, and in some cases, for months.
In 2016, 1.5 billion new mobile handsetswere purchased and the total number of smartphone users grew to 2.1 billion. In the same year, reports suggest that a total of 90 billion app downloads were recorded, which metered about 900 billion hours of usage. Estimates also suggest that people use about 30 apps per month, regional numbers rising or falling marginally.
Those numbers make it obvious that riding the app-wave to reach new and existing customers is a smart thing to do to win hearts and increase the share of wallet in the market. Unfortunately, apps that don’t engage, serve, and excite are of little use to businesses seeking to wow their customers. The reality is, a lot of apps are failing to find and hold on to users. A 2016 study analyzed the iOS Apps Store and came up with the significant finding that about 90% of the apps listed have been classified as ‘Zombie’ apps and can’t be found organically.
If you want the investments you’ve made in your app to reap dividends for you instead of moving to the graveyard, here is what you need to do:
- Provide a great experience, every single time: Ensure that users don’t struggle to navigate and interact with your app. This will ensure they have a great experience each time and have a reason to return for more.
- Make sure that the business case supporting your app is meticulously tested: Study your market and ensure that you’re not missing out vital local or regional data points, facts, or trends. Failing to do so will impact your business case and can derail the launch and subsequent success of your app.
- Keep it simple – the golden rule of everything that ever succeeded: Adopt a simple wireframe and user interface to make sure your users can get the most out of your app, and aren’t marred by its complexities.
Well begun is half done, goes the old adage – and once you’ve made sure that your app doesn’t bear any of the hallmarks of apps destined for oblivion, make sure you set them up for success. Benchmark with the best apps in the market, leverage exciting emerging technologies, and constantly evolve to learn users’ preferences and behaviors. In the meanwhile, my article Designing for the Small Silver Screen in the latest edition of our management journal, Perspectives, will help you get a head start into building mobile apps that will ‘stick’ with your consumers.