Characteristics Mobile Applications

Winning characteristics of successful Mobile Applications

The mobile landscape is at its pinnacle, with mobile technology making an impact in every industry and sector. Consumers are hooked to their mobile phones and tablets more than ever before, and apps have a significant part to play in that. On the one hand, though there are over 2 million apps present in the App Store and Play Store separately, there are many of those that fail to deliver and live up to user expectations. The question, therefore, is: What characteristics make apps successful?

What is it then that makes WhatsApp a globally favorite communications app, or Instagram the most preferred app for documenting photographs and stories, and MyFitnessPal a recurring choice for health and fitness enthusiasts? Is it the idea or the technology stack or the breakthrough features that deliver an immersive user experience?

Close observation of these winning apps will reveal that they have common characteristics that give them the upper hand. So, even though, companies are often undecided on whether to build an iOS or Android app first, there should be little doubt on including the following features into the mobile apps developed.

Characteristics of a Winning Mobile Application: How to make an app that steals the show

For enterprises and start-ups, apps can be built in-house or by outsourcing mobile app development; in either case, the objective should be to build an app that delivers value and rich experience to users. After all, the app marketplace is competitive enough, and the battle for user time is not an easy one to win.  

So, here are some must-have winning characteristics of mobile applications to stand-out from the multitude:

1. Smooth-sailing Navigation:

Imagine driving on the highway and reaching a crossroad without any signboards! How appalling would it be if there aren’t any clear signs on what to do next or where to go?

The navigation of an app would deliver a similar confusing experience if not done thoughtfully. For the perfect mobile app experience, navigation must be easy to comprehend and follow. In this respect, a characteristic of a frequently used app is one that keeps navigation simple, easy and uncomplicated, so that users have clarity and are directed seamlessly to the next action/stage.

The best apps simplify navigation to such an extent that it’s almost a no-brainer! This is all the more true for apps that come with a lot of inner pages and content, and users need to access it through the search function.

2. Delightful UI/UX:

We cannot even debate on the importance of a pleasing UI/UX for building an insanely awesome app! The app marketplace is populated and it is almost impossible for users to maintain lifetime loyalty to an app. And yet, some apps do command long term loyalty. How?

This is because all of these apps have intensely focused on their users – and tailored the design to fit their users. With 178.1 billion app downloads in 2018 (Source: Statista) users are spoilt for choice. It’s not unlikely for users to download an app (especially the free ones), launch it, use it for some time and then discontinue use or worse, uninstall it. Most often, if not always, users lose interest in an app if it fails to deliver promised value and offers a poor user experience.   

The little time an app gets to captivate the user can be leveraged by ensuring a powerful and engaging UI/UX. The user interface should be such that users face no difficulty in finding what they are looking for, has only the primary features present, uses colors/typography consistently, maintains white spaces that balances text/content, and welcomes new users with a positive onboarding experience!

3. Customer support that actually supports:

One angry customer – and that can translate to a lot of negative reviews and loss of revenue for an app! Customer support is unfortunately not among the first components that’s thought of while developing an app, but it should be. Most of the top performing mobile apps have exemplary customer support teams that often do a remarkable job of converting an angry customer to a satisfied one.

Consider a transportation company like Uber. It offers a service that’s bound to have a lot of angry customers, and it’s impossible to manually attend to and resolve all of their complaints. Uber’s app as such has an extremely efficient customer support section tagged as ‘Help’ that addresses the most common customer issues. It also has a section tagged as ‘Any Other’ that lets a customer discuss the concern in detail. And the most satisfactory part is, that every concern is replied to via email.

An easy way to minimize direct customer queries is to have a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) section based on the most obvious customer queries (collated over the months). Sometimes having a ‘Chat’ section can also prove beneficial. The idea is to be available for the customer when they need help.

P.S. On several occasions there have been instances where a positive or negative customer support experience has led to brand mentions on social media and through word-of-mouth.

4. Minimal loading time:

When looking at the performance of an app, the loading time is one of the first things that one can think of. Apps that take more than a couple of seconds fail the test immediately. Users hate to linger on an app unless the value delivered at the end of it is laudable. Gaming apps, because of its huge app size, at times, can take a couple of seconds to load – but then, they almost always make up for that by delivering an engrossing experience.

Considering that often available internet connection is a vital factor affecting the app speed, having a small app size works wonders. When building an app, ensure that the app size is at its minimal. Some businesses even consider launching a ‘Lite’ version in specific geographies and among target groups, with the core and basic features only. Eg. The music app Spotify and Spotify Lite.

A must-have feature of mobile apps in this respect is a customized loading page. A witty copy/quote or a quirky image on the loading screen instead of the standard loading bar is a better attempt at audience engagement. A simple way to ensure the performance of an app is to have it tested regularly and on different platforms and devices.  

5. Personalization all through:

It’s not easy to deliver a personalized experience to users – so yes, if possible it makes it a winning characteristic. Consider a social media networking app like ‘Twitter.’ In order to offer a more personalized experience to users, the app allows users to change the Theme color so that users do not have to stick to the Twitter-blue but go with a color they identify with.

Personalization is a vital characteristic that distinguishes apps. While personalization alone will not attract users to an app or motivate them to install it, it certainly adds value to the overall positive user experience.  

Ready to get an app done?

While there is no established rule book in this case, if one were to consider the top 100 mobile apps of all time, it’s without a doubt that these are some of the prominent characteristics that will feature in all of them. There are several other characteristics that can be added to this list to make it a foolproof app, such as – security (especially mobile apps for making payments), compatibility on both Android and iOS platforms, social media integration, etc.

App development has come a long way since its inception, and with passing time, the process is evolving and getting better. While all the know-how of the trade might not be applicable to all app development, it is likely that these inputs will help to build an app that impresses!

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May 23, 2019 3 months ago

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