Which apps are user-friendly apps

Mobile & Apps

The app - the small, useful program on the smartphone or tablet - is the model of success of the past few years. "The war of the mobile devices is over - and the app has won," wrote the tech magazine "Venture Beat" in the spring. According to figures from the analysis portal flurry.com, which has observed app usage on over a billion mobile devices, smartphone users now spend 80 percent of their time in apps. The daily average is two hours - the mobile browser only takes 30 minutes.

Anyone who thinks that it is enough to throw an app on the market to get involved, could quickly be disappointed. The pressure of competition in the app stores is enormous. There are at least a handful of alternatives for every conceivable application - regardless of whether it is about the weather, social networks, navigation systems, photo effects, news or cooking recipes. And if someone does find a niche in the market, it only takes a few moments and the first imitators are there too.

Apps have to convince their owners of their everyday usefulness in just a few minutes - over and over again. If an app is not used all the time or cannot be operated, it will quickly disappear from the device. It is all about these two factors: suitability for everyday use and ease of use. Typical mistakes are made here again and again, which drive the user to white heat. We give a few examples.

  1. Developer Garden App Monitor
    Today, users spend over 80 percent of their "smartphone time" in apps. It is therefore important that app developers pay attention to clean programming and high usability. Tools such as the Developer Garden's App Monitor help with the test.
  2. error message
    Because only through extensive testing can crashes or even error messages as with this app be avoided.
  3. Dropbox chart
    New app features can often be explained more quickly with a diagram than with long texts.
  4. Facebook login to Adobe Revel
    A Facebook login is a good service, as is the case here with the Adobe Revel photo sharing service - but it should only be an offer and never a requirement.
  5. Freemium
    The freemium model can, if used too intrusively, as here in the game Real Racing 3, spoil the joy of an app for users
  6. Push it
    A look at the settings - here iOS 7 - shows: Almost every app today uses push notifications.
  7. Pinball arcade
    Why not test out new features with the target group before they are released? The pinball simulation Pinball Arcade on Facebook shows how to do this.

The bad first impression

A new app gets exactly one chance and then only little time to convince the user of its qualities. The description in the app store, the price, the app icon, any recommendations from friends and many other factors already give the user a very precise expectation. He expects quick answers to questions like: What can the app do? What does she look like? How is it to be used? How well does the technology work? Often he has already answered these questions mentally before he starts the app for the first time. If the expectations are not met within minutes of the first "typing in" and the app is not understood immediately, the user's thumb is quickly back on the delete symbol.

Apps should therefore be intuitive to use, self-explanatory and modern, and come up with solid, well-tested technology. Nobody is willing to spend a long time familiarizing themselves - the exceptions may be complex company apps or the extensive recording studio software for tablets. Here, however, the expectations are different from the start.

A couple of intro screens that briefly explain the functions of the app are a good way of getting a quick introduction. Anyone who offers the user advertisements for other apps from the manufacturer, serves an intro film that cannot be clicked away or forces a lengthy registration, strains patience unnecessarily. Another common mistake is getting lost in too many features. Every function makes an app more difficult to understand, more complex and more error-prone. It is often better to limit yourself to a few core functions instead of aiming for the all-rounder.

The grocery store

The "freemium" model is very much in vogue. Publishers offer customers elaborately programmed games or applications free of charge - the "bill" then comes in the form of chargeable app-ins, without the game or app being virtually useless. Whether credits, gems, season passes, premium subscriptions or maps - without these expensive gimmicks, permanent use of the application is hardly possible.

As a result, hardly anyone today believes in real free apps - unless it is recognizable and advertising is often displayed in an app. The result: Users get annoyed about otherwise well-made apps, post bad reviews in the App Store, on Facebook and on Twitter - and flee to the competition as soon as possible. In the actually excellent racing game Real Racing 3, for example, players are constantly asked to pay for cars, upgrades and tracks. Playing through without paying is impossible. The player feels like he is in a shop where he is constantly asked to pay.

The freemium model or the monetization of an app via flexible payment models are not fundamentally wrong - if implemented correctly, they can even make an app accessible to a wider audience. Make sure, however, that prices and in-app purchases are fair, that you do not ask customers to checkout too often and that you generally offer fair prices.

Fall in with the door

The temptation of the marketing possibilities on smartphones and tablets are enormous: Why not access the customer's contacts and friends list immediately after installing the app? Query the location? Log usage data? Win new Twitter and Facebook fans? Regularly send special offers to the most personal of all devices, namely the smartphone?

Basically, buying, downloading and installing an app is a great sign of trust. App providers have to be extremely sensitive to this. Anyone who arrives with business like the used car dealer ("You recommend me to your friends and get Premium Upgrade XY for free") leaves customers with a bad feeling. Anyone who asks for permission to access the location, contacts, and photos after the installation, apparently for no reason, will be deleted immediately. Rule: If you ask for permission for location data, for example, please include the reason. If, for example, the user taps the store search for the first time and is then asked for the location data, it is easy to see why they are needed right now. As a result, he will be happy to cooperate.

Creating a user account with the Facebook login can be a great service if there is a meaningful exchange of data that is already stored on Facebook anyway. If, for example, Foursquare discovered straight away, when a Facebook friend joins the location data network or Spotify offers to post their own favorite music.

But for God's sake don't post anything without the customer's permission (and offer to skip the "User XY has just installed app XY" post) and be sensitive to their contacts. He won't forgive you if you spam his friends.