With nearly a billion people set to own a smartphone by 2015, the already flourishing app market is set to explode as new hardware technologies open up what is possible to achieve on a mobile device. Where a number of developers have already experienced the power of the App Store, thousands more are tuning their apps to mimic the success of Instagram, Angry Birds, Candy Crush and Shazam.
Essentially, apps need to be unique to sell. Some of the most successful apps are not necessarily new apps, doing something different, but are doing something BETTER. According to a survey by Flurry, the average users have 65 apps installed on their phone, but only use an average of 15 apps per week. With that in mind, what makes a good app? And how can developers ensure that users return to their app over and over again?
Features of a Good App
The way an application looks and operates is imperative to its success. Users form impressions instantly – especially in the case of free apps. If the app doesn’t look as good as a rival app and navigation isn’t fluid, the user won’t return.
Adapt to a User’s Needs
Creating a successful app is one thing, maintaining that success is the real headache for developers. Writing on the Outsystems blog, Rodrigo Coutinho said that apps need to be easy to change. “Great apps are evergreen. Even if in subtle ways, they’re always improving and adapting to the latest requirements. To build a great app, you need to make sure your application can change as fast as you users’ needs.”
Fun or Function
Generally speaking, successful apps exist either to solve a problem or entertain you when you’re bored. Good apps focus on the user experience and are entertaining or useful. Angry Birds is a hugely popular game app that keeps users absorbed for hours, but users don’t expect the same qualities from a travel app – they just want to get home quickly
There is nothing less “cool” than an application that crashes and you (the developer) have no idea what caused it because there was not enough testing. Make sure the application does not over-use system resources, and test, test, test!
In an article about why mobile apps are here to stay, CEO of Front Row Solutions, Etien D’Hollander said, “the best apps are the fastest apps. If you can get in and out of the app with the information you need in seconds, chances are you’ll have a successful app”. While content is important, people are impatient. They want precise, specific information and they want it now. Delays only encourage a user to close the app, and not return.
Fundamentally, consumers want something that can reduce the time to undertake something, improve their productivity or entertain them when they are bored. It’s up to developers to assess what is missing on the app market and create a new idea into a reality.
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