Mobile apps have become one of the most popular communication tools between businesses and their customers.
Providing a dedicated app to your customers to install is one of the best marketing decisions because people want to be in control deciding when, where and how they interact with their favorite brands.
However, not all business apps are successful and lots of people decide to uninstall them because they fail to meet their expectations or they simply do not offer them the means of interaction they want.
While a generally accepted code of best practices for app development has not yet been developed, there are a few recommendations made both by marketing specialists and app developers.
These recommendations refer to the most sought-after features which your mobile app should have if you really want to provide the best user experience to your customers.
Here are the top five features which you should include in your mobile app:
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Simplicity is the holy grail of any app. Using an app should never be an ordeal, it should be an effective portal to a service or experience. During brainstorming sessions, you will come up with a lot of interesting ideas for features and third party widgets, but when the time comes for implementation, you might have a hard time deciding which ideas make it onto the final list of features of the mobile app.
It is tempting to offer a one-stop-shop app which has everything in it. This said, you must remember context; this app will likely be used on a mobile phone, tapping with a finger while sitting in the back of a taxi, or in the office during the final minutes of lunch. Thus, the first and most important quality and feature of your mobile app must be simplicity and ease of use.
Remember: simplicity shouldn’t only be confined to user experiences within the app. A user’s first experience with the app is the first time they look to find it, so make sure your app (or links to it) appears when relevant words are inputted into search engines, as a study from Google shows one out of four users discover an app through search.
2. User Feedback
User feedback is extremely useful for app owners. This kind of feedback usually contains valuable information about the way your app works, how easy it is for people to use and, in some instances, it provides useful suggestions for improving the app.
For customers, being offered the option to send feedback means that the company is actively listening to them and does not treat them as numbers on a list. As with all things, however, there is a fine balance between providing just enough outreach between customers and too much: nobody wants to be met with a “Rate Us” push notification every time they open the app. Collecting user feedback well is a skill, so make sure to seek advice and examine guidelines before committing to a collection method.
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Every user has individual preferences and an appreciation for the ability to tweak, arrange, and personalize certain components of the app. Just like good software programs allow users to, for example, arrange the most frequently used tools, font style, and size, mobile apps should offer similar levels of customization so users can maximize the app’s utility and convenience of use to them.
One feature that has great effects on user satisfaction and low risks to the app’s perceived quality is the ability to customize color-scheme of menus and notifications within a professionally curated array. Make sure to create the arrays carefully so that they promote positive moods, as interface color has a major effect on the subconscious, and transitively, user experience and purchase likelihood.
While most apps allow users to manually customize their settings, extremely successful apps include behind-the-scenes functions that automatically present users with relevant information based on their previous activities within the app and their indicated preferences.
Though customization is a key feature, make sure to moderate the amount of customization available to users so they do not over-customize and diminish the app’s functionality. Even if the list of features which can be customized is not very extensive, people appreciate the sense that they have a degree of control on the app they installed on their smartphone.
4. Social Media Integration
“Sharing is caring” is a slogan from the early days of the Internet, but its relevance is nevertheless unwavering. With social media growing as a powerful tool for discourse between people, businesses, and more, a company should take advantage of it by offering app users the ability to share the content they have just read or the purchase they have just made with their social media friends.
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5. Offline Capabilities
Great mobile apps can be used even in areas where wireless and mobile internet is not available. After all, this is the essence of the concept of mobility: being able to go anywhere even atop the highest mountain you can climb and still have the ability to access content on a mobile phone.
Apart from these main features, I would also like to add the extra advice of planning and implementing app updates carefully. On the one hand, you should make sure that you do not inundate users with frequent, non-essential (and annoying) update notifications, but also that you do not delay updates for too long, so that when you finally release a new update it is not a bulky install file which takes a lot of time and traffic data to download.