Are your apps duds?

It’s mind-boggling that only 22 per cent of all installed apps are ever used more than once. End-users are easily impressed by the promise of new apps, but their expectations, perhaps unrealistically high, are often crushed during their first app experience.

The founders of Uber didn’t think about the challenges of routing cabs. Instead, they thought about a cab driving up to anyone’s location after a few taps of their iPhone.

Amazon didn’t think about the technology required to fulfill orders. They thought about making it easy to browse and order products no matter what kind of device a customer might be using or where a customer might be located.

Both organizations thought about innovative apps that delight customers.

It’s old news that app installs are related to their perceived value while app usages are related to the actual value you create for your customers. If you’re disappointed by your app install rate and by the usage drop-off of your apps, consider this checklist of topics to address that will turn your duds into customer delighting apps.


We’ve become demanding, lazy, and pampered. Take your pick. Choose all if applicable. For app developers, the result is an extreme focus on app design for end-user convenience.

To me convenience includes:

  1. Requiring as few screens as possible to complete a transaction.
  2. Designing to incorporate widely accepted navigation practices and standard icons.
  3. Sticking to transaction essentials and avoiding even interesting side issues.
  4. Leveraging profile data even if it means adding more boxes and questions to the end-user profile.
  5. Re-using data from previous sessions.
  6. Minimizing typing by using pull-down lists.
  7. Incorporating responsive (RWD) or adaptive (AWD) web design methods.
  8. Defining products well to ensure variations are easily distinguishable.


We expect apps will ensure security and protect privacy. For app developers, security and privacy require superior coding practices, blocking common exploits and testing software comprehensively.

To me security includes:

  1. Using https to encrypt transaction and end-user data.
  2. Sending notifications when profile and especially address changes are made.
  3. Providing feedback on password strength.
  4. Using security questions as part of the password recovery process.
  5. Searching the web for fake apps and websites that attempt to impersonate your company.
  6. Monitoring end-user activity for suspicious purchase and return patterns.
  7. Not selling end-user information because that will undermine your brand.
  8. Proactively and transparently responding to data breaches to maintain trust.


We’ve become incredibly impatient and are easily distracted. We don’t care how many rows in how many large database tables have to be joined and filtered to respond to our requests. For app developers, speed requires optimized code and databases.

To me speed includes:

  1. Making it clear when the app is working through a spinning circle, dots or progress bar.
  2. Using minimum-size graphics.
  3. Contracting with a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to improve performance.
  4. Processing ahead, while the end-user is reading or thinking, to make the next step faster.
  5. Operating an adequate computing environment to support the traffic you hope the app will generate.
  6. Investing in redundancy to respond to component failure.
  7. Building larger executables if that can lead to faster performance.
  8. Gathering lots of data about every session and analyzing that data for performance issues and opportunities.

Customer service

We’ve come to expect prompt and capable customer service to support the app experience. For app developers, the result is more app features and call center integration.

To me customer service includes:

  1. Testing app text to ensure it communicates well to customers rather than just to employees.
  2. Sending confirmation emails.
  3. Notifying customers when something changes such as product availability or expected elapsed time for shipping.
  4. Offering interactive chat.
  5. Including instructions for the return process in every order.
  6. Offering a call center but operating to minimize call volume to control costs.
  7. Displaying More in the app frequently to provide detail to minimize call center interaction.
  8. Gathering lots of data about every event and analyzing that data for avoidable issues to improve customer satisfaction while reducing the cost of customer service.

End-user experience

We’re all seeking an engaging, compelling end-user app experience. For app developers, the result is a demand for subtle features that are well outside the comfort zone of many. Designing a memorable end-user experience combines the contributions of many disciplines including psychology, sociology, computer science, graphic design, industrial design and cognitive science.

To me end-user experience includes:

  1. Visually appealing screens that are not gaudy or overpowering.
  2. Clear navigation.
  3. Unmistakable app feedback.
  4. Ease of use.
  5. Easy to learn so that no one ever has to refer to the online help.
  6. Up-to-the minute content.
  7. Few or no pop-ups.
  8. Idiomatically correct English or any other language.

What is your experience with creating customer delighting apps for your company? Can you share any experiences with dud apps? Let me know in the comments below.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Yogi Schulz
Yogi Schulz
Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of Information Technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry to select and implement financial, production revenue accounting, land & contracts, and geotechnical systems. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, from the need to leverage technology opportunities and from mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy, and systems project management.

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