4 Ways to Build Better Apps

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Mobile apps have become a mainstay in a world that’s constantly on the move. Once considered a novelty, a mobile app is now a familiar source of convenience and portable information. It’s rare to find a business without a mobile software option, as it’s something customers have come to expect. But it’s fair to say not all apps are created equal.

Some crash at the most inconvenient times. Others are clunky, making it difficult for people to get the hang of what they’re supposed to do. Creating an app with good functionality and intuitive design can be the key to a company’s market success. Even so, these intentions don’t always lead to mobile products consumers embrace. Let’s look at four tips for building better apps.  

1. Remember It’s All About Experience

An app is often an extension of a brand’s product or service. In some cases, someone’s experience with a company’s mobile software could be the product. Take fitness trackers, for example. While a few of these devices display a breakdown of crucial details like daily steps, others don’t. You need the device to sync to an app to see the data it’s tracking.

More than likely, you’d want to see the important stuff first. Your steps, calories burned, distance traveled, and perhaps how well you slept last night. But what if these details take too many screen taps to get to? Say they’re buried underneath confusing features, poorly labeled buttons, and menu layers. You’d probably give it the old college try once and then give up.

Mismatches between consumer expectations and a design team’s assumptions are one reason apps fail to deliver. It takes extensive research to uncover best practices in mobile design systems and market needs to create something worthwhile. Luckily, some of this legwork has already been done. For instance, the Uber design system combines good app creation basics with memorable user experiences. That allows apps like Uber Eats to replicate a restaurant feel while catering to expectations about personalization and real-time order tracking.  

2. Don’t Skip the Testing Phase

Mobile apps are built on code, which can control anything from appearance to data security. Unfortunately, coding isn’t always perfect. Your team may think everything is set to run smoothly, but later they discover several bugs are causing big problems.

Ideally, you want to uncover and resolve these issues before you launch anything to the public. It’s why the quality assurance and testing phase exists. The consequences of skipping or rushing through this stage can compromise your brand’s reputation. Poor performance makes users feel less confident about apps and the names behind them.

Fully 63% of consumers will start to worry about the security of their data if they experience performance problems. Once people don’t trust that their information is secure, two out of three users will abandon their mobile purchases. Awful in-app experiences like frequent crashes can lead to the same result. Do your company a favor by thoroughly testing all features, device compatibility, integration, and security before you unveil your product.

3. Know Your Platforms

Not every app runs on multiple platforms. This may seem counterproductive, but there are reasons behind it. While it’s not uncommon for mobile software to work on iOS and Android devices, it may not make sense. If your market only uses iOS, why waste the development time that will go into making an Android version?

The same principle applies to other gadgets and integrations your app may need to sync with. These include wearables and single-sign-on features. For example, will your users want to use a Facebook or Google account to sign into your app? Integration options like these can simplify use and increase adoption rates. But your design’s building blocks should account for the nuances by meshing with coding and hardware requirements.

You’ll also want to think about ongoing compatibility. Mobile devices evolve quickly since major players like Apple and Samsung typically release new smartphones every year. While many consumers tend to hold onto their phones for two years, updated devices can prompt upgrades. You’ll want flexible coding and design systems that match novel hardware requirements on time. Simultaneously, those systems should accommodate slower adopters of the latest tech.

4. Think About Speed

Many apps won’t fully function without an internet connection. But connection quality can impact someone’s perception of the software. It may be unfair, but slow speeds aren’t exactly an app’s friend. And it’s more than just Wi-Fi you have to worry about. Most people bounce between Wi-Fi and cellular data connections, expecting seamless software use as they travel.

Your app design should accommodate slower connections. Some companies take it further by making critical features available offline. There’s always a chance your users won’t have access to a connection at all. Severe weather and high traffic can easily impact network infrastructure. Apps that keep working well in low-speed scenarios tend to increase user satisfaction.

To the customer, it doesn’t matter why mobile software doesn’t work. Interfaces dependent on large bandwidths can irritate people who don’t have access to higher speeds. They’ll abandon the product after a few tries. But if your architecture supports several bandwidth situations, you’ll stand a better chance of delighting your consumers.    

Improving Your Apps  

It can be easy to become lost in the excitement of developing new software or improving what already exists. The creative process sometimes causes design teams to lose sight of whom they’re creating an app for. They forget about what the user may want and experience. A rush to launch can also result in insufficient testing and less-than-functional code.

Building better apps starts with creating user-focused systems and processes. Looking at mobile software from a consumer’s point of view helps determine the technology specs that designs stand on. Without this perspective, you can’t create an app that users will love.

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