According to a survey by Reviews.org, 66% of Americans check their smartphone 160 times per day; 56.4% of survey respondents consider themselves “somewhat addicted” to their device. Smartphones are integral to virtually every aspect of daily life, from navigating our morning commute to ordering food to connecting with friends (and strangers) on social media.
What lies behind this dependence we have on our devices? Advancements in operating system technology and the advent of a mobile app for everything offer consumers immediate access to rolling news coverage, shopping, entertainment, and even lifestyle support at the touch of a button. The convenience and immediacy of mobile apps have contributed to our reliance on smartphones – and also caused consumers to demand more of their in-app experience.
The pressure to innovate has never been greater as more businesses create innovative apps to reach and serve new customers. It’s vital for app developers to understand what consumers expect to ensure apps don’t get lost in the crowd (or worse, abandoned altogether). Let’s explore five features we believe developers should consider adding to create a successful, engaging app.
A rich user experience
What sets your app apart? Functionality is an important starting point, but chances are there are hundreds of other apps with similar functionality to yours. The thing that sets the best apps apart from their competition is often the user experience. If you want your app tobe downloaded like crazy, you’ll need to offer an experience unavailable elsewhere.
The most important function of an app is its ability to provide utility or value to its users. Does your app solve a problem, and can it solve that problem effectively? If so, you’re off to a great start with a product that will be useful to its intended market and prompt that all-important download and ongoing engagement.
The ability for consumers to personalize their experience is key to ongoing engagement. Netflix is a perfect example of an app that provides personalized experience. A complex algorithm sits behind its technology recommending TV series, movies or documentaries based an individual’s viewing history. Netflix is able to give users the impression that their account is tailored to their interests. Not only does this enhance the experience for the user, from a sales and marketing perspective it is an effective retention strategy.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more advanced, so does the need for improved security. The same applies to mobile apps; as they become more customizable, the amount of data we share increases. Consumers expect their data to be protected no matter how advanced the technology or how much data is shared.
There is a reason for the vigorous security check points users go through before gaining access to secure apps such as banking institutions. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated in how they access data, with these types of attacks on the rise:
- Malware: hackers place malware into apps and devices that aim to mine data and access screen lock passwords or codes;
- Phishing: hackers use phishing attacks to gain access to private business assets; and
- Identity fraud: the theft of customer data.
While cyber threats are always a concern, most mobile apps will have built-in security to provide a level of comfort to consumers. The introduction of two factor authentication and its extra layer of security also reassures app users. App developers should ensure access is as simple as possible, but also demonstrate that there are solid security measures in place to meet customer concerns.
Quick and easy checkout
Experienced online shoppers know how time-consuming and effortful the checkout process can be to complete a purchase. E-commerce businesses may notice their sales funnel leaking as a result.
When creating a shopping app, developers should minimize the number of mandatory fields at the point of purchase. Only the most critical information should be captured to avoid an abandoned cart. The fewer steps a user has to take to press “pay now”, the better.
A few ideas that may help reduce the time at checkout:
- Autofill information: look for information that can be automatically populated such as the purchaser’s city or state based on zip code input.
- Ensure buttons and overall functions are easy to use. Buttons should be optimized to be easily touched or selected by thumbs, fingers, or stylus pens.
- Save the user’s information, such as payment methods and postal address for shipping. If they return to make another purchase, any saved information will allow them to finish the checkout process as quickly as possible.
Simple user interface
Simplicity is a quality that often gets underestimated. But, think about the practicality of an app crammed with hundreds of features. Who wants to sort through these features that aren’t essential to the experience? It’s true that there are so many awesome things you can do in app development. But, unless they’re aligned with the needs of your users, those added features might do more harm than good.
Whether you are an experienced app developer or just starting out, understanding what users expect to receive from your app before you even begin to design is essential. It might seem instinctive to create the best looking app or one with the most exciting functionality. But, when it comes down to it, consumers simply want an experience that is secure, useful and with features that resonate most with them. By keeping the above five points in mind before developing your app, you are already on the right path to success.