Mobile phones have made more of an impact on our lives than any other invention, and are top of the list when considering the question, “How did we survive without them?” Not only are we now powerless without them, but the latest generation of apps are also going to make sure we will be relying on our mobiles even more to help run our lives in the future.
These facts alone are by no means a bad thing, as work productivity increases and creativity is now enjoying a broader spectrum. We can work on bigger issues that need fixing 24/7 on a train, on a bus, or waiting in the grocery line. Creativity can’t be kept waiting, and we are always in touch with our closest confidantes to bounce our ideas off.
The numbers for app use globally speak for themselves. The average smartphone user will look at their phones more than 100 times a day. Users now dedicate 2/3 of this period for app use, but which ones? What makes one app stand out above a bunch of others? That is the question mobile app developers face this every day, so what is it that more than 175 million smartphone users want to see every single day?
Communication is always high on the mobile user’s list of which phone to own. We now need to be in constant contact with the whole world without a break, so where better to get those texts, Tweets, and mail than from our handheld device? These apps need to be super-quick to tick the right communication boxes.
Without this crucial ingredient, app users are just going to switch off. Minimal is the way to let the user feel they can access their app quickly and easily, especially with one hand. The app should keep a slick and familiar interface that users get subconsciously used to, so no new buttons or changes should be made to confuse the user enough to switch apps.
Intelligent app makers are making their games just as effective in the background while the user is doing something else (and probably more productively). There should be no time limits and infinite playability to pick things up exactly where you left off. Users need to feel they are in control of their game and not wasting their time playing a game that has changed unexpectedly.
App developers try hard to make you use the app as much as possible, so this means the app needs a trigger to get you to react to the notification sound of new mail or whatever update you have flagged. There is a time delay between hearing a notification alert and reaching for your phone, and developers have the task of shortening this gap (known as cognitive overhead) as much as possible.
Games have already taken over as our number one time filling occupation. The games must be slick and quick to play. One-handed controllers are the type of games to play when holding shopping carts. A good game will reward the user each time they play again, so the user needs to feel welcomed and able to build on previous achievements. App developers need to be bright in enticing us to tend to our game for ten minutes more than we should by creating a must-do game situation before signing out.
Commerce drives a lot of our busy lives, and the mobile app is now the centerpiece to be your go-to guide for making buying decisions. Reviews and offers may be two significant factors before committing to that purchase and where better to get the latest news that the palm of your hand? Retail apps need to allow instantly for quick purchases with no fuss.
Information is king when it comes to utility apps. Knowing the weather or latest travel plans can be crucial to your day. Users need accurate, up-to-date info, and they need it constantly to plan ahead. Apps here must deliver pinpoint correct info and have an interface with constant updates of changes to notify the user instantly.
As the apps get more sophisticated and hungrier for absorption time, so too must the developers be careful in not pushing change too fast. The whole reason someone downloads an app is because they like what they see. Once they learn how to use the app the last thing needed is to re-learn it all over again. Clever apps will implement change subtly to entice the user to continue with their development using the app.
The Illusion of Control
Our mobiles are loved by us because we treat them as our personal assistants to do everything for us. They work for us, so we need total control over our apps and developers cleverly give this to us. But where would we be if our ten favorites suddenly disappeared overnight? Apps need to sell us the illusion of being at our beck and call and not feel we go where the app wants us to go. That’s a deal breaker!
The Holy Grail for app developers is to get their apps to an unmissable point with their user. They want to hook the user to need the app every day, and this means taking away the chances of not relying on the app anymore. Take Facebook, for example. Most people store tons of cherished photos on a site where you can’t access the photos without using Facebook. How many friends on FB contain their email addresses? Your alternative options have been purposes shrunk by FB developers.
What other strategies do marketers employ to make you want to have your smartphones within immediate reach? Geniuses, aren’t they?
Perhaps you too, should come up with your own money-making strategy and get into the entrepreneurial spirit. You don’t have to do everything on your own. All you need is a solid idea and start scanning the cyber market for freelancers willing to develop your concepts into useful apps.
Author: Faisal Wahab is a writer and content marketer who is a computer science graduate and a tech geek. He is a part of the team at MobiWoz which is a tech blog providing latest mobile news and app reviews.