Here’s a statistic that might scare you: 71% of app users churn within 90 days.
That means you have a very short period of time to impress customers that don’t feel the need to stick around if your product doesn’t quite meet the mark.
What this shows is: building a mobile app that customers love is no easy feat.
Especially in a highly saturated market, where app-first companies are facing growing competition and pressure to deliver quality products, it can seem like a mammoth task to make your app stand out.
But it isn’t impossible.
In fact, there are companies who are wildly successful in the app world, with committed customers that just keep coming back, time and time again. Take the giants like Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, TikTok, Headspace and Strava. These are the superstars of the tech world, with an app retention rate most CTOs are envious of.
So, how do they do it?
We decided to ask tech experts for their top tips for building a mobile app that customers love, from idea to production.
1. Never forget the KISS Principle: Keep it simple, stupid!
We put this tip first because it’s so important. Let’s break it down.
A convoluted idea that is tough to get your head around isn’t going to jump out to customers. Just like a 5,000 word blog covering 5 different testing methods in 5 different colours isn’t going to appeal to the Global App Testing blog readers, a complicated app isn’t going to appeal to even the most tech-savvy users. People want simple.
“Too often, app designers want to show off shiny new features and lose sight of the end-user experience. The most loved apps are always simple and easy to use - see TikTok and Instagram. They started off with very basic functionality that hooked users in.”
- Ilya Radzinsky, Co-Founder & CMO, TaxDome
“Customers love simplicity. If the app is not easy to navigate and understand in five seconds, you have problems. While building, you should conduct many thought experiments where you ask the development team, "How could this be simpler?" Then, next week, ask the same question. Lastly, the best way to test this isn't to ask "Do you think this app is a good idea?" or "Would you use this?" It's to ask, "Would you pay money for this?" That's how you drive genuine answers.”
- Brian Robben, CEO, Robben Media
2. Put the customer first
There is one end-user of your product: the customer. So why would they not be your first priority? Putting the customer first at every stage of your development process is crucial to ensure you are delivering an app that they will actually use and enjoy.
“Co-develop your app with your customers! In the early days, we invited our first customers to join our Product Advisory Council, where we had regular meetings with them to get their feedback on the initial product and to tell us about their biggest pain points. We'd build the next version, then rinse and repeat the feedback process with them. It helped us stay on track and build features that we knew people wanted. In exchange, these customers got heavily discounted prices and of course had a direct hand in building the product in their image.”
- Vasilios Alexiou, VP of Customer Success, FirmPlay
“ The most important tip is to build the app that your customers or users actually want. You accomplish this as an app developer by actually taking the time to get real representative samples of the user/customer base involved in the design, the build and the testing of the app. This most occur all the way from the stages of testing the basic need or idea on which the app is based, all the way through to testing the design, interface and actual functionalities that are implemented.”
- Bryan Osima, CEO, Uvietech Software Solutions Inc
3. Solve a problem
Any great product that has staying power solves a problem. So your app should do the same. If you’re solving a customer’s problem, churning will mean your customer loses their ability to solve the problem anymore. It’s a great way to increase app retention rates.
"My simple tip for building an app that people will love is to focus on solving one problem first. Users will fall in love with your app as long as it's serving a particular meaningful purpose. Don’t start building an overly elaborate product right out of the gate. It's great to have a big vision, but success is achieved by taking a lot of calculated small steps, not one giant leap. It’s important to build and launch the most basic version of your app, get feedback from users, and expand the feature set from there."
- Manny Hernandez, Founder/CEO, OMNI
4. Build a habit around your app.
If your app seamlessly becomes part of your users’ day-to-day routine, your customers are going to see it as a valuable asset. If your customers find your app useful every single day, they are going to trust your brand, and likely stick with it.
“Many people will download apps that they don't ever use, but they will still rely on a few that they'll come back to every day. Building an app that's actually contributing to a user's daily life is important if you want your app to truly bloom in the market. Identify the roots of your users' habits, or build a habit for your user. Once your idea clicks and your customers love using the app every day, you can start expanding and thinking of ways of how you can make money through in-app purchases and other methods.”
- Tom De Spiegelaere, Digital Marketer, Tom Spicky
5. Keep it secure
Customers value security. Data breaches and poorly tested cybersecurity measures are going to have a negative impact on brand perception and customer trust. There’s nothing more worrying than thinking your personal details aren’t safe with a business, especially where banking details are involved.
“Mobile app users reward companies that prioritise usability and security. If their experience is pleasant and simple, and if they are confident in the security of their data that is used and created within the app, customer retention is going to be significantly higher compared to those app developers that experience data breaches or make users go through hoops for things like password resets. The more proactive a developer is in regard to security and streamlining processes -- the more appealing the app becomes for the masses.”
- Asaf Ashkenazi, COO, Verimatrix
6. Don’t try and do everything
It can be natural to get really excited about your app and come up with a long list of complicated features that look great on paper but might not be so easy to implement in real life. That’s why it’s important to prioritise. Ask yourself: what feature is going to be the most exciting part of my app? Once that is perfected, you can move on to new ideas.
“An app with a feature that is the best among the rest has a better selling point compared to apps that are jacks of all trades but are masters of none. As such, the software development team must ensure that that one feature of the app is almost faultless before doing the next, so that they won’t have divided attention.”
- Jonathon Wright, Management Consultant, QA Lead
7. Make sure your app is usable
If you’re involved in creating an app, you’ll know it inside out. But remember: your customers don’t, so they will want to navigate your product easily. They should understand what they need to do to get value from your app almost instantly.
That’s why great UX is so important.
“Build a user-friendly UI and intuitively understandable UX based on the created user persona. Make sure all the elements of your interface are consistent, and the navigation is easy for the user."
- Maxim Ivanov, CEO, Aimprosoft
“Average users may not be interested in every specific function of the app; what truly matters is usability and convenience. This is why focusing on UX/UI design and user-friendly features is very important”
- Vladlen Shulepov, CEO, Riseapps
8. Test, Test and Test again
Let’s say you deliver the most exciting, customer-driven, secure new app. After careful marketing and launch, your users can’t wait to log on to the app and see what it can do.
Suddenly, they see the words no new user wants to see: ERROR.
Your app glitches out on Android users and doesn’t quite work well in other countries. Those affected customers delete the app, believing it’s buggy and not worth their time.
No one wants that to happen.
“Develop and implement a fantastic QA strategy to ensure that your app is thoroughly tested. You can achieve this by using a blend of manual and automated testing, conducting localised tests across the globe and partnering with a crowdtesting solution like Global App Testing. Delivering quality is vital to ensure your customers love using your app.”
- Fahim Sachedina, Growth Expert, Global App Testing
How to build an unbeatable mobile app
Building a mobile app that customers love takes time, budget, planning and creativity. But it isn’t impossible. Follow these 8 top tips to create an unbeatable mobile experience:
- Never forget the KISS Principle: Keep it simple, stupid!
- Put the customer first
- Solve a problem
- Build a habit
- Keep it secure
- Don’t try and do everything
- Make sure it’s usable
- Test, test and test again
If you would like to learn more about delivering quality to your users and driving product ROI as a result, click here to speak to one of our growth experts today.