We’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating: a great mobile app can skyrocket your business. When you cater to your mobile audience, you increase your customers’ loyalty and trust and keep them coming back for more. And a mobile app is one of the best ways to do it. In fact, here’s a crazy stat: globally, more people own a mobile phone than a toothbrush! Kind of gross now that I think about it. While this may not be a great sign for global hygiene, it’s definitely a sign of a huge opportunity for mobile (and a sign that we probably need more toothbrushes!).
However, with hundreds of thousands of mobile apps available in the app marketplace today, the competition is stiff. Businesses everywhere are fighting for their customers’ cell phone real estate. The goal is to be one of the (on average) 23 most frequently used apps on a mobile user’s device.
Many are trying to mimic the success of apps like Instagram and Tinder, while others have smaller goals. But, no matter the objective, one thing is clear. The app market is exploding, and if you want to succeed, you’ll have to find a way to break through the noise.
But how exactly do you do that? Well, there are some apps that stand out and separate themselves from the crowd. They destroy the competition and bring businesses to new levels. Fortunately, these mobile apps tend to have a few common characteristics that you can apply to your mobile app. In fact, these characteristics should be top of mind before you even start planning your mobile app.
5 Characteristics of Winning Mobile Apps
1. Great UI (User Interface)
First impressions are everything. People judge books by their covers, and apps within the first few seconds of usage. That’s just human nature. So how can your mobile app make a great (and lasting) impression? The key is great UI.
The way your app looks and operates is crucial to its success. This is especially true with free apps because there is a high churn rate. If the app doesn’t look and perform as well as a rival app, the user won’t bother to learn more about what it can do.
Winning apps keep in mind that, in most cases, the user is operating from a mobile device with a small touchscreen. As a result, the UI is unobtrusive, mitigating design elements that don’t add a use or function to the app. If it doesn’t add value, it’s eliminated.
Winning apps focus on the primary task of the app (the task that solves the users’ problem or adds the most value), elevate the most relevant content, and give users a logical path to follow for easy navigation. They’re intuitive.
2. Fast loading time and high performance
Have you ever used an app that took forever to load—and sometimes, it just crashed, froze, and completely shut down? You probably didn’t use that app too often.
If your app takes too long to load, it will automatically be avoided by users. Winning apps take less than five seconds to load. However, more complex apps like Facebook sometimes take a bit longer to load—these apps require large amounts of data to start up. For Facebook, users usually stick around because they see ongoing activity when they start the app. If this is the case for your app, consider taking the user to a “loading” screen, which informs them that the loading process is on.
Winning apps are also high performing and consistent. Apps that constantly freeze are disregarded by users.
3. Extremely helpful customer support
Not every mobile user is tech-savvy. There will always be people who need help with their download or have general pre or post-purchase questions. A winning app’s customer support will answer users’ questions within hours, and even minutes in some cases. Just one question can lead to a sale or an app recommendation.
You’ll notice that you start to get the same questions over and over. To save time, create an FAQ section for your users. For other individual inquiries, consider outsourcing customer support and hire people from freelance.com and oDesk.com (this is only necessary if you get A LOT of inquiries, though).
4. Adapts to a user’s needs
Creating a successful app is great—but if you can’t maintain that success, it’s all for naught. Winnings apps introduce new features, fix bugs, and streamline the way they operate with each update.
Remember Angry Birds? At one point, it was the most successful app on any platform, with over 250 million app downloads. It was a fun game to play, yes, but that wasn’t the only reason for its success. There were constantly new updates, free of charge, to keep customers satisfied.
5. Compatible with a mobile platform
A winning mobile app is completely compatible with the mobile platform it is developed for. It keeps the aspect of the specific platform in mind, and it takes advantage of the natural qualities of the smartphone or tablet. As a result, it offers the best possible UI experience for users.
When creating your mobile app, pay attention to the features and traits of the platform, as well as the guidelines and work environment. Avoid using unfamiliar features that don’t fit into the framework of that mobile platform.
The app marketplace is cluttered with competition—but that doesn’t mean your mobile app can’t stand out from the crowd. Mobile usage is exploding, and the opportunities for mobile apps are growing with it. But if you want your mobile app to be successful you’ll have to figure out how to break through the noise.
Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. Plan your mobile app so that it encompasses as many of the above characteristics as possible. This will be your formula for success, and your ticket to a great mobile app that truly skyrockets your businesses.
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