Everyone wants to build the next great app. An app that goes “viral”, generates revenue, keeps you on the cutting edge. The reality is 22 percent of downloaded apps are only used once. So what is a designer to do, just stop following their dream?

No. The answer is to stay focused and build an app that delivers long term loyalty from your users. Here are 5 steps to build an engaging app that can help you reach your goals.

Audience Targeting

Targeting the right people to download your app is key. Finding the users who will download your app and continue to use it for the long term is important for success. You get a head start on this by:

  • Conducting app market research

  • Identifying your potential user base and creating User Personas

Unified User Experience (UX)

Having a unified user experience is paramount, as the first download IS your first impression. If the experience is not clean, simple, and convenient you can easily doom yourself to the dreaded 22%. A few important things to consider to reach that goal are:

  • First-time User Experience (FUX)

  • Beta testing your app

  • Flexibility in the UI and Technology

  • Ability to add new features on a relatively fast (2-3 month) cycle

  • Make the app simpler and easier to use

  • Release regular bug-fixing patches/updates

Connect with Push Notifications

A notification strategy keeps the user involved as the app becomes a part of his/her life,Though why choose to “push”?

  • Push notifications are a way of keep users engaged

  • Notifications can inform users of new, relevant features

  • Be sure to allow users to opt-out and be wary of overusing notifications - flooding the user is a good way to get your app uninstalled

Let Users Be Social

Everybody likes to share the “newest” app with their personal network. There is a lot to be said for being an early champion of the next big thing, and users generally want to be a part of this. Some things to consider in order to be successful:

  • Enable existing users to recruit potential new customers

  • Open a conversation with users via customer service and public conversations over social outlets (Facebook/Twitter)

  • Provide a useful FAQ that helps users find their bearings in your app

Test as often as possible

Everyone knows testing is important and testing as often as possible is a key component in ensuring a successful app Though with the rush to be relevant, sometimes the reasoning to test can be overlooked. Here are a few good reasons to continually test.

  • Testing is the easiest way to find out how users perceive and use your app before releasing it into the wild

  • Testing helps the developers to come up with a backlog for the next round of features and fixe which allows your app to remain fresh

  • Usability testing is a critical part of any project. Engaging users at various stages of the process gets you important feedback and insight into user behavior.

These five steps are just the beginning when building an engaging app.What do you think? Let us know by dropping us a line and letting us know your opinion.

Image: Johan Larsson/Flickr

Ahmed Abdallah
Ahmed Abdallah
Senior Architect/Mobile Development Manager
02.25. 2014
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