App use is at an all-time high, with American consumers now spending 86 percent of the time they use their mobile devices in apps. That equates to around two hours and 19 minutes a day, compared to just 22 minutes browsing mobile websites daily. The popularity of apps means that businesses that don’t have one are missing a valuable opportunity to interact with their customers and attract new ones. Keep these points in mind when designing yours.
1. Keep it Simple
Image via Flickr by Cristiano Betta
When it comes to the world of mobile apps, less is more. Simplicity is the key to designing a successful mobile app. Remember that mobile users don’t have access to a mouse and keyboard. Because of this reality, navigation should be streamlined and typing should be kept to a minimum.
Mobile devices generally have much smaller screens than laptop and desktop computers, so there simply isn’t a lot of real estate for a lot of text, tabs, or other features. Try to cram too much in and legibility and usability will suffer.
Simplifying your app will also help you cut down loading times, which is crucial to mobile users. The average user expects that an app will load in just two seconds, and one in five users expect an app to load in just one. The clock’s ticking, and if your app doesn’t provide the responsiveness users demand then chances are it’ll be one of the estimated 80 to 90 percent deleted from smartphones.
2. Add Value
It’s tempting to create an app which is simply a carbon copy of your website, but this gives the impression that your app is a second-class citizen. Instead it’s important to think outside the box and offer value to encourage people to download your app.
For example, your app might use geofencing to alert users of current specials whenever they’re within a block of one of your stores. A supermarket could present recipes to users that enter an ingredient they’d like to use, then use geofencing to help the user navigate around their nearest store to collect the ingredients they need.
3. Include Social Sharing Capabilities
Social sharing is the key to widening the reach of your business app. This will help it reach not just your existing customer base, but also their friends and friends of their friends. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways you can promote your app, especially since it requires to effort from your team after the design process.
Think about ways you could incorporate social sharing naturally into your app. For example, if your app posts company or industry news, add social sharing buttons to encourage users to share what they’ve enjoyed. If your app features an online game, you might add a function which allows players to share their scores on social media or challenge their friends to a game.
4. Make it Free
With smartphone plans going down in price, bargain hunters everywhere are entering the mobile market. For these mobile users, there’s a massive difference between downloading a free app and one that costs even 99 cents. Currently free apps account for roughly nine out of ten apps downloaded. By 2017, it’s predicted that free apps will claim 94 percent market share.
You might think that charging for downloads will help you make money, but research disputes this. Studies show 90 percent of paid applications make less than $1,250 a day. Compare this to top free apps like Clash of Clans, which makes $168,000 every day, and Pandora, which makes $120,000 in daily revenue. Apps like this make their money through in-app purchases. Designing an in-app store and offering incentives to buy like discount codes and sale notifications can help encourage in-app spending.
Even if you’re not seeing a lot of money spent within your app, don’t underestimate the value of the brand awareness a free app can create. Users may be using your app to gather information before making a purchase in a bricks-and-mortar store or from their desktop computer, for example.
These points will guide you towards creating an app that will delight your existing customers and attract new ones.