We live in an app-happy world – more than half of U.S. mobile users downloaded mobile apps during the three months ending in May, according to latest data from comScore. And there is no sign of slowing down. For brands, this means shifting larger portions of their budgets to mobile and pushing for leading-edge apps to capture customers’ attention and increase sales.
What makes an app successful? We believe the user experience is the key to making an app worth using and saving:
- Naming your app: There are two basic rules for naming your app, so it is easily found and used by the masses:
- First, make your app name short. It should be two, to four words at the most, so people don’t have to type a long name when they are searching.
- Second, let the name speak for itself. If people can’t get an idea of what the app does from its name, they have little to no reason to download it or remember it. Think about what goes through your customers’ mind when you name an app – for example, if you work for a running related company, your app should contain the words “run,” “jog,” “exercise” or the like, or chances are people are going to have difficulty finding you.
- Tone of your app: While the tone depends on what your app is all about, it should almost always have a personalized feel to it. Individuals are downloading your app to their own mobile devices, which in itself makes the experience very personal – users are holding a smaller device in their hands, holding it close to their face and usually interacting by using their fingers. This is a stark contrast to using a tool like a mouse – the ability to physically touch something makes it feel less like you’re interacting with a machine and more like you are interacting with something that is alive. Take advantage of this by using a personal tone, using words like “you” or “my” and talking to the user as if it was a conversation between two people, instead of a cold experience between a human and a machine. These human touches are what makepeople comfortable with an app, and therefore, more likely to use it as an indispensable tool.
- App mechanics: When designing your app always keep your targeted mobile device in mind. If most people will be using it on a tablet, take advantage of the extra space. If your app will be mostly be seen on smartphones, take advantage of swipe scrolling and use big beautiful buttons that scream out to be touched. However, your app will most likely be used on many different types of devices. If possible, ensure the experience on each device plays up its specific strengths. For example, if some of your end mobile devices use a stylus and others use a touchscreen, make sure your app can be easily be used in both cases. In the best possible scenario, though rare, you have the opportunity to create an app for a specific device, like an iPad. If this is the case, learn the ins and outs of everything the device can do and find ways of using it that is different from the norm. Simple is always best, but different and simple combined is unbeatable.
- Beware of excessive notifications: Whatever your app does, remember where it lives – in people’s pockets and purses. This means your app pretty much goes everywhere your users go. Updating your app is a great way to add new features, but adding too many updates too often is a great way to annoy people. Every update notification that pops up reminds the user they have to work to use your app. Working is not fun, even for the short five seconds it takes to update an app. So plan your updates carefully and limit them to avoid people deleting your app. The same applies to notifications. If notifications are built into your app, design them to only pop up when they are important. If you have a sound that goes with the notification, make the sound unique and not the same as a common ring tone or text alert, which can be confusing and irritating. Finally, make it easy to turn notifications off so if a user doesn’t like them, they can get rid of them.
Apps are all about the experience – from being easy to find in an app search, to being enjoyable to interact with, to being simple to maintain. The goal is to keep your app on a user’s phone and have them use it on a regular basis. To do this, make sure the experience, beginning to end, is simple, useful and satisfying.
What other tips would you suggest?