Have you downloaded fewer new mobile apps over the past year or so? If so, you’re not alone.
Gartner just released the results of a survey of mobile app users in the U.S. and Germany showing that mobile app adoption might be reaching maturity. According to the report, “user interest in apps has mellowed now that they have integrated apps into their use of personal technology and their interaction with brands online. Although usage remains high, users may not want or need more apps in the future.”
Taken out of context, these “app fatigue” results may appear alarming, but they actually bear out something very positive: mobile apps have become an important part of our lives. We depend on them for social connections, managing our checking accounts, keeping track of food and exercise, and more. Gartner’s survey shows how far mobile has made inroads into our everyday existences.
Still, the fact that people are happy with what they’ve got does pose some challenges for mobile app developers and product managers trying to launch new products. As consumers’ usage patterns become more ingrained, managers and developers must find ways to make their apps stand out even more than ever before. As Gartner points out, “Users will try new apps, but they need to be convinced of an app’s value before they adopt them and change usage patterns over the long term.”
Here are three strategies for overcoming app fatigue:
Address a specific problem or need
The best apps are the ones that try to do one or two things well while addressing a specific need. For example, when we launched our Chrome app with BroadSoft, we created an app that was designed to help enhance the ability for business people to communicate using their Chromebooks. Likewise, our ScreenBee app scratches a social media and TV watching itch for consumers. Neither tries to be all things to all people. Instead, they focus on addressing certain needs for each of their target audiences. Their focus gives them value and allows them to work well for those audiences.
Develop a clean and compelling user experience
A big factor in mobile app stickiness is the user experience, which needs to be clean, compelling, functional, and powerful – all at the same time. Good apps are simple to comprehend and use – no one wants to use a massive and complex piece of software on their phone (or anywhere these days, for that matter). They also incorporate familiar gestures that users have become accustomed to (swipe, “pull to refresh,” etc.) – catering to those mature and established usage patterns reflected in the Gartner survey.
Also, users are increasingly turning to their mobile devices instead of traditional computers. As such, apps should reflect their more traditional software counterparts, with the same number of features, but in a smaller package. This goes for enterprise app development, too.
For more information about user design, be sure to check out mPortal’s “Art of User Design” eBook, which has some great tips and examples.
Get your app discovered
With fewer people looking for new apps, it’s even more important for developers and managers to focus on app discoverability. Developers with multiple apps or services may want to consider a dashboard app model, which aggregates different functions under a single view, making it easier for users to find what they need. Organizations may also want to consider having their apps included in targeted app discovery portals that house collections of apps. These are more curated than traditional app stores and can make it easier for apps to get noticed. Developers and managers can also market apps through paid advertising, social media, and public relations campaigns.
Gartner’s survey results show that mobile apps are now as much a part of our lives as the food we eat and clothes we wear. However, their popularity also means that app developers can’t afford to rest. Instead, they must get even more focused and creative if they wish to continue to successfully introduce new apps to the market.
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