5 Essential Features for Mobile App Design

August 15, 2017

These five essential app features help create satisfied app users: simplicity, speed, offline capabilities, feedback, and analytics.

Success in the digital marketplace depends on designing a successful mobile app—one that is effective, efficient, and able to compete with the more than 2 million that exist.

More than half of all global internet users favor smartphones and tablets over traditional desktops. People are using mobile devices to check in for flights, get their news, send emails, chat with friends, and shop.

It should come as no surprise, then, that mobile app development is a booming business. The industry saw a 40% growth in revenue last year, with publishers for iOS and Android app stores garnering $35 billion in revenue.

As the founder of Blue Fountain Media, a full-service digital agency, I’ve helped many brands strategize and develop revolutionary mobile apps that deliver results.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at five essential features for every mobile app.

Mobile App Users Want Simplicity

A successful mobile app design doesn’t need additional bells and whistles. In fact, the more flashy features it has to offer, the more likely it is to feel cluttered, impractical, and time-consuming for most users. People want simple, and your app design should reflect that. This requires research on your part to figure out exactly what your consumers need and how to deliver those basic needs to them in the most streamlined way.

For example, apps such as Everlist use grid layouts and minimal navigation elements to keep their designs simple and improve UI.

Everlist app grid layout

This simple app design provides easy, straightforward navigation for users by making it easy for them to find different categories.

Simple apps also generally have a better security track record. In fact, most data loss or security breaches that occur through mobile devices are often a result of user error—i.e. users who feel confused and press buttons without really knowing what task they’re completing.

Simplicity also saves time, which brings us to the next feature your app design should consider: speed.

App Users Want to Save Time

There are two factors to consider when making sure your app design delivers on speed.

First, reduce clicks wherever you can. An app’s design should incorporate minimal navigation elements, which reduces clutter and provides an app that’s easy to interact with.

Users want quick load times, which enable them to use apps more often and from more places; the goal for developers should be speed, not extraneous animations that stand in the way of this.

For example, with a shopping app such as Instacart, busy parents on the evening train home from work can have groceries delivered to their doorstep within one hour, just in time for dinner that night.

Instacart app

Instacart has a straightforward, easy-to-navigate design that is quick to load, which makes it effortless for parents to order groceries on their commute home.

App Users Want Offline Capabilities

The ability to use apps offline is a helpful feature. It allows people to use the app more often and without worries of data limits.

This is particularly useful for travel apps. TripAdvisor’s app lets users scour reviews, maps, and photos of more than 300 cities, all totally offline.

Travelers, who don’t always have Wi-Fi, can take advantage of this app when on the go, which is when they need the app most.

App Users Want a Feedback System

Feedback systems increase collaboration between users and developers and show that user opinions are valued by your company. Implementing these systems can be as simple as adding an in-app button with an email link for users to send comments.

There are also in-app support tools, such as Helpshift, User Voice, and Instabug, that allow users to communicate with a help team, provide feedback, and report bugs and other issues.

In-app feedback makes it easy to collect impactful information and continually improve an app based on users’ wants.

Use Analytics to Gain Insight

Just as analytics are paramount to tracking the success of a digital marketing strategy, they are also crucial to assessing and evaluating mobile strategies. Tracking and identifying your users’ experiences will allow you to keep improving your app.

Download numbers and user reviews can provide basic insight as to whether your app is succeeding in the marketplace, but these numbers aren’t going to give you the whole picture, nor are they going to tell you the how’s and the why’s of your apps’ success or failure.

Analytics, on the other hand, allow companies to hone in on specific functions that enhance user experience and boost engagement. Tools such as Flurry, Google Mobile Analytics, Apple App Analytics, and Apsalar provide metrics that allow developers to track retention, traffic, and behavior patterns.

For example, Flurry's mobile analytics provides developers with real-time data on how consumers use their apps.

Flurry mobile analytics

This real-time data allows app developers to learn right away what features app users prefer.

A Strong Design Foundation Creates a Successful App

Developing a mobile app is about figuring out what makes your users tick and constantly evaluating and assessing how your design meets those needs.

These five features—simplicity, speed, offline capabilities, feedback systems, and analytics—can help your business do just that.

About the Author

Gabriel Shaoolian Headshot

Gabriel Shaoolian is a digital trends expert and founder of Blue Fountain Media, a full-service digital agency focused on growing brands online.



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