September 8, 2014

Three reasons apps fail, and how to avoid following in their footsteps

Written By Martin Sandhu

Consumers are downloading lots of apps. But they’re also getting savvier about which ones they download and less patient with those they install that don’t meet their expectations.

Deloitte says that 45% of smartphone users download an app at least once a week, and Apple reckons that 15 billion apps have been downloaded from its App Store. All the numbers point to a seriously competitive market.

Such a competitive market though gives room for some great successes and some equally great failures. There are thousands of apps that get approved to app stores and never see more than a handful of downloads, rendering them an unsuccessful needle in haystack. There are however a number of common pitfalls, which if you can avoid when developing your app will significantly increase the chances of success…

1.   A Focus On Brand Building

Many businesses are beginning to use apps as a way to brand build and interact with customers. This is certainly no bad thing, but Deloitte research found that 80% of apps designed this way fail to attract a significant amount of downloads, and less than 1% get more than a million people to download them

This is simply because they either don’t do enough to attract a users attentions or consumers can see through the thinly veiled premise and essentially view the app as an elaborate advert.

Solution: Create something useful

The way to get noticed is to do something useful and something that cannot be done on other devices. Making use of the functionality of a smartphone, specifically its location services and the portability of the device will increase the chance of a successful app.  For example store-branded apps can use location settings to help locate the nearest store.

Deloitte also found that apps that use the phone’s accelerometer are 77% more likely to be downloaded – this is perhaps because it’s a function yet to be explored by many.

2. An app riddled with errors

Put simply, consumers won’t put up with consistent errors. Yet, a recent survey found that almost half (44%) of all app errors are found and reported by users – essentially making them part of the testing team!

Solution: Test, test, test

Development teams should have a strategy for improvement in place, even before launch. Apps need to be fluid and regular updates should be planned. Thorough testing before launch and keeping a close eye on user feedback and analytics should prevent any major issues from slipping through the net, but it’s important not to rely on users as testers.

 3.   Poor agility

Speed is important when it comes to apps, both in terms of how long it takes to download and open and in agility and updates.

Mobile platforms are constantly changing and updating, so too are the latest smartphones, apps need to agile enough to keep up with these changes. Ideally apps should be continuously updates and improved with regular new releases to endure the best user experience. Waiting too long for the next release will result in lost customers who will go elsewhere for a more agile experience.

Solution: Use the right tools

Having the right team and tools in place will shorten the time to market for any updates. Developing automating testing across all platforms will speed up the process and lead to higher quality apps.