Localytics reported today that app retention rates are improving as mobile app developers and publishers have shifted their focus from downloads to customer acquisition and retention models. They stated that overall, the app industry has improved retention rates 19% over the last year.
Localytics states that “App publishers for the iPhone and iPad saw the greatest success, with retention rates 52% higher than those on Android.” Maybe most interesting is that the percentage of installed apps that were used more than ten times climbed by a solid 5% (from 26% to 31%).
iPhone has a clear advantage when it comes to retention. “iPhone’s far greater app retention rates is also an echo of the 94 percent retention rate of iPhone itself compared to 47 percent for Android,” the Localytics report states.
Clearly, a focus on creating quality mobile applications that are designed with good usability principles and are useful to users is paying dividends to mobile application developers and publishers.
While no company wants to be know for selling products that are functional and unattractive, we are seeing strong evidence that aesthetics don’t affect a mobile app or web site’s perceived usability. But conversely, poor usability will negatively affect the application’s perceived allure.
In a recent study conducted by Google, they stated:
“The results showed that the beauty of the interface did not affect how users perceived the usability of the shops: Participants (or Users) were capable of distinguishing if a product was usable or not, no matter how nice it looked. However, the experiment showed that the usability of the shops influenced how users rated the products’ beauty. Participants using shops with bad usability rated the shops as less beautiful after using the shops. We showed that poor usability lead to frustration, which put the users in a bad mood and made them rate the product as less beautiful than before interacting with the shop.”
Often we see businesses acting counter to this with by placing aesthetics far ahead of usability. As they design, they often do everything to stand apart from other applications and focus too much on the surface level design factors while ignoring real usability issues that would help increase user satisfaction and repeat usage.
To counter this, we suggest users pursue design paths for mobile and web applications using aesthetic attributes such as “clean”, “tight” and “organized”. Applications generally gain traction from the ground up and add more users as positive word of mouth spreads, which means reputation is everything. The study suggests poor usability will lead to less than favorable word-of-mouth will good usability while help you see the growth you desire for your applications.
One of the most important elements to a great app is a high level of usability. Apps that are easy to use get used. Apps that are confusing or difficult to use are ignored or quickly get deleted. Here are 5 tips to improve your app’s usability and help you get the most out of your mobile application development:
1. The layout of mobile applications should be clean and easy to navigate. Lay out any mobile application navigation in a format that makes it as easy as possible to get where you’re going inside the app with buttons and controls that invite you to tap them. Buttons should utilize contours and gradients that invite them to be touched.
2. Focus your mobile application’s functionality. Keep your mobile application simple and focused throughout the entire application. Determine what’s most important on individual screens and keep them simple and easy to use – remember, confusing apps do not get used.
3. Have the look and feel of the mobile application flow with the intended function. If you have a customer management app, skip the flashy layout and focus on maximizing functionality with a utilitarian mobile application interface.
4. Provide logical pathways of navigation for users to follow throughout your app. Provide back buttons and let users know where they are at any given time within your mobile application. Don’t forget to use simple, standard terminology that users will understand. Simplicity and ease of navigation will promote regular usage of your app.
5. Make all touchable targets fingertip size at a minimum. Apple suggests touchable targets be at least 44×44 pixels but we suggest larger, we have never heard users ever complain about buttons being too big.