Apps have made your life easier, more fun and generally better. But all it takes is a quick scroll through the App Store to see the truth: Even apps that brands have spent hundreds of hours building catch a lot of flak.
Most of those comments revolve around a lackluster user experience. A good UX doesn't just mean a swanky interface or few bugs, either; it's about delivering real value through flows and functionality that make sense for your audience.
Where do branded apps--including yours--go wrong? These five mistakes top the charts:
1. Forgetting about the navigation
Understandably, mobile app developers focus on two things: the app's core use case and the home screen. Software always needs to deliver some sort of value to the user, and it needs to make a strong first impression.
Investing in those key areas shouldn't mean, however, ignoring the interstitial and navigational components of the app. Adventure camera company GoPro's Quik app may manage video content well, and it's far from an ugly app; the trouble is that its menus don't work.
Remember, usability is a key part of the user experience. Before calling it quits on development, be sure to walk through the app with real users to identify trouble spots.
2. Developing irrelevant integrations
Many app developers take a "the more integrations, the better" approach. After all, every user's phone has a slightly different mix of apps, not to mention the many different services they use on their other devices.
Less tends to be more with integrations. Banking app Chime hooks up with Google Pay and Apple Pay, but it doesn't have integrations with all of the financial management apps on the planet.
Why not? Because more integrations means more opportunities for bugs, more space on the user's phone, and more dependencies on other companies. If one of your app's partners suddenly switches its API, users may blame your app for the broken link.
3. Building for iOS or Android only
When it comes to designing apps, Android and iOS are totally different animals. They use different programming languages, have different pre-built component libraries, and have distinct approval processes.
Because of those challenges, some companies decide they should invest in one mobile OS or the other. Android has nearly 75 percent of the global market, for example, so apps with international audiences may default to it.
Look a little deeper into the data, though, and you'll see that OS share varies widely by region. If you must choose one over the other, consult your audience. Develop for the more popular platform first, and be clear that an app for the other is coming soon.
4. Making changes without user input
Say it with me: The user knows best. Developers and designers may do the work, but ultimately, they can't know what will or won't resonate with the app's user base.
App development studio Yeti made this mistake with Weathermob, a weather app with a social component. Although it considered the font tweaks and color changes improvements, Weathermob's user base did not.
UX refers to the user experience. If users are happy with the app, leave its interface alone. If they're not, use their input to make it better.
5. Including every web feature
The more your app can do, the better--right? Nope. Analytics platform Hotjar made this mistake when it built a mobile app a few years ago. Even Apple fell prey to feature bloat with its iTunes product.
Mobile users have efficiency in mind. They don't want to dig through dozens of pages to find what they're looking for. Be clear about your app's value proposition, and stick to it. Anything extraneous should be cut.
An attention-grabbing interface might be the least important aspect of a mobile app's UX. Know your users, keep their needs in mind, and make sure your app meets those needs.
Be ready to make hard, user-oriented choices about what your app can and can't do. Because the core value proposition--and the user's ability to access it--is what counts. Anything else is just a waste of your time.