What will good mobile apps look like in the post-app era?
Having an ‘app for that’ won’t cut the mustard as we enter a post-app era, says Kate Duckworth, but if your app can do UX better than anyone else it will be a market leading product.
New Gartner research from the US, UK and China claims we have reached ‘peak-app’, with users spending more time on their smartphones to access and use fewer apps. Like most other trends, we can expect this to hit our shores in the near future, adding to the already existing environment of time-poor consumers growing less forgiving of app loading times, bugs, and usability.
But let’s hold off writing the obituary, just for now.
Yes, we are entering ‘the beginning of the post-app era’. And yes, certain apps like social media and ‘youtility’ might as well be dead on arrival (no one needs another Facebook). But you’d be stupid to ignore the data staring you in the face.
74% of Australians rely as much on their phones as they do on their desktops when searching for information, ideas and advice.
Not having a mobile presence is signing your own death sentence and will be detrimental to business growth and brand loyalty.
So what do mobile apps look like in the post-app era?
Consumer expectations are changing exponentially, with customers expecting personalised experiences and instant, intuitive mobile solutions in those integral ‘micro-moments’. It’s now more pertinent than ever for businesses to adopt mobility as a core strategy, and reevaluate how they can ensure their app stays on the customer’s phone.
As more organisations make the move to the cloud, access to consumer analytics is changing the way marketers are finding opportunities to interact with their customers. The biggest trend we are seeing in the Australian market is brands are integrating IoT and AR into their service offerings.
Take L’Oreal’s latest Smart Hairbrush as the latest example. This hairbrush is giving beauty obsessed consumers insights into the health of their hair using sound sensors to detect brittle hair and conductivity sensors to measure how wet their hair is with the information delivered via a mobile app.
It’s not another social network, or another same-same but different way to take notes, but an app that complements a brand new, innovative and exciting service offering that differentiates L’Oreal from their competitors.
The user engagement debacle
It’s well known that 80% of enterprise apps fail to engage their users; the biggest issue being a failure to analyse and optimise user engagement using tools such as A/B split testing, deep analytics and heat mapping tools.
Recognising that even one extra click required of a user could be a trigger for them to completely click out of your app and never return is an important step towards offering a greater user experience (UX) for consumers.
The number one driver of app adoption is providing a solution that is undeniably relevant and advantageous to the user. Functionality paired with seamless integration with other platforms and technologies to promote a holistic and enhanced UX will be the winning formula for regular and long-term app use.
Get your priorities straight: functionality
Flawless and functional app performance is a minimum expectation from customers, and can you really blame them? With so many apps now on the market, users can easily find the same basic services offered by an unintuitive app from somewhere else; and they’ve usually got more than a few to choose from.
Gaining a competitive edge in app design is all about creating meaningful ‘micro-moments’ that delight the user. These interactions are tiny, contained moments within a tech product that usually revolve around a single task. The ability to delete emails in the Gmail app with a single swipe without needing to open them first, is just one example.
It’s a simple intuitive function we often take for granted, but is highly effective.
There’s no time or space to waste with ‘nice to have’ information and graphics that don’t contribute to the user completing that task. Users are on an app for a reason, and want to complete that function as efficiently as possible.
Streamlining with integration
When looking to build or enhance any app, the user needs to be at the heart of every design, development, and investment decision – this has to include recognition and planning around consumers actually wanting to use less apps, but still leverage the latest technologies like a AI and AR.
Customers now expect offline and online experiences with brands to be seamlessly integrated. And integrations with other customer-focused platforms show a commitment to delivering ongoing value to the user. Having an ‘app for that’ won’t cut the mustard this year and definitely not five years from now, unless ‘that’ covers multiple aspects of someone’s everyday activities.
According to Gartner, enhancing the way users access apps is directly correlated with increasing features that are rich and engaging. But these features don’t need to be brand new or innovative ideas that are yet to be developed.
Start by exploring services such as social media platform integration, user-generated videos, ChatBoxes, and e-commerce possibilities.
Thinking of dabbling in some AI or AR? Don’t just jump on the bandwagon. Applying AI technology to a mobile app can personalise and streamline the user’s experience at a level unachievable by a ‘one size fits all’ interface. It can also be used to predict user behaviour, show preferential content, and make strategic recommendations to your user base.
AR is another technology being broadly discussed, and is not as futuristic as it sounds. Industries like retail, health and real estate are already using simple forms of AR to deliver virtual experiences to customers. Particularly for apps that use native camera functions, augmented reality can be a powerful way to deliver more value throughout app usage.
Following best practices for UX will significantly increase conversions and in-app engagement, but the most effective way to engage users is to simply solve the problem the app was built for.
Don’t get caught up in the chaos.
When an app can do UX better than anyone else it will be a market leading product, even in a ‘post-app’ world.
Kate Duckworth is mobile marketing specialist at Buzinga App Development.
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