Having an app is not enough. It needs to be one that people use. Recent research shows that most apps lose two-thirds of their users within a month of installation. To ensure that your app benefits your organization, put these practices in place:
1. Understand your users' motivation.
What do individuals want from an app like yours? You can provide all the notifications, features and bells and whistles in the world, but none of them are any good unless they are things that your clients want when they visit your app.
Before you start designing, start asking what people want from an app. You can include survey links in emails, ask in person and study threads on messages boards dedicated to apps like yours.
2. Simpler is better.
Every second your user spends trying to figure out how to do something is a second where they might close your app and never return. Make sure that everything is easy and intuitive to keep people using your app.
Invite your least technically proficient friends and family-members to act as beta testers for your app. If they have trouble understanding what your app does and how to access all of its functions, this is a sign that you need to simplify aspects of your app.
3. Tailor to the OS.
Android and iPhone users use their apps differently. Additionally, there is a lot of variation between one Android phone or tablet and another. Android can be run on a wide range of screen sizes and on devices with a wide range of capabilities. Make sure that you make different customized versions of your app to fit these variations.
4. Optimize for offline use.
Some of the most useful and important apps are designed around usability when there is not a connection to be found. Apps like Evernote, for instance, can do everything that is needed even when you are not connected to a mobile signal or WiFi. Consider the usability of a retail store's app. It should be able to deliver coupons in advance, so that people are not standing in line trying to pull up an offer. It often seems that people most need to connect when signals are sparse; make sure that people can do what they need to no matter what.
5. Map your content and user flows.
Good apps are designed around the way that people will use them. A quality hotel-finding app, for instance, can start with the user inputting the city they wish to visit, then sorting area hotels based on price, distance from a specific airport or destination, star-level and customer review. Your first ideas of a user flow do not have to be sophisticated. Putting them down with pen and paper is a good start.
6. Use familiar patterns.
Study the motions that people are familiar and comfortable with. By making an app that fits with these, you can make a place where people feel like they are at home. This ease of use should use common gestures, icons and animations.
7. Focus on doing one thing well.
An app that does everything under the sun will do none of those things well. Instead, focus on a couple of related core competencies. Make sure that you can do every one of them in a way that pleases your users.
8. Minimize steps.
If your customer has to go through five or six steps every time they want to complete an action, they are not likely to return to do it again. The most common actions should be completable with two or three clicks or swipes.
9. Set your defaults carefully.
Which screen should your users see first when they turn on the app? Are they likely to want certain types of personalization on or off when they first log in? By focusing on what they are likely to want and setting it up to fit their needs, you can make your app more user-friendly and appealing.
10. Don't be too invasive.
Notifications can make people come back to your app or they can prompt someone to delete it. Are they likely to want daily reminders? An app in the fitness niche may be an appropriate place for regular nagging, while one in the retail sales sphere may not.
The most important thing you can do is to listen to what your users say. Observe their behavior. By tailoring your offerings to their desires, you can make your app more useful to them and more likely to make the list of ones they regularly use.