Unlike bug fix releases – which almost always increase one’s Applause score – the inclusion of new features poses a greater risk to the downside. Will users like the new features? Will they be easy to use? Do they change the fundamental nature of the app? Depending on how these questions are answered, brands could see a dip in user Applause.
Take, for example, the rumor that Instagram will launch video capability to its wildly-popular photo app. Here’s TechCrunch with the rumor:
Earlier reports about Instagram getting video provide some indication, though, that this is not coming out of the blue. Most recently, about three weeks ago Matthew Keys broke a story noting that such a service was getting tested internally. At the time, there wasn’t any information on when it would be coming out, nor whether there would be filters, nor whether this would be in a separate app or part of an Instagram update. The videos would be between five and 10 seconds in length, he noted.
Getting video on Instagram is a move that would make sense. Specifically, it looks like a direct response to the rising popularity of video-sharing services, namely Twitter’s Vine. It, and others like Viddy, Cinemagram and Socialcam, sometimes get described as “Instragram for video” apps.
As of today, Instagram has an Applause score of 75 and 73 on iOS and Android, respectively. Will this new feature increase or decrease their score? Share your thoughts in the comments section below after voting.Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
A recent survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults (commissioned by SOASTA) found that “almost nine out of ten Americans associate negative feelings with brands that have poorly performing websites and mobile apps (88%).” Clearly that’s something you want to avoid. How do you do that? Start by focusing on these key areas that users particularly care about:
- The app works when users need it – 72%
- It has fast performance and load times – 62%
- It does what they expect it to and performs as expected – 62%
- It doesn’t crash – 53%
- It returns correct “trustworthy” results – 45%
- It’s fun to use – 38%
Those bullet points are reflected in the Applause Attributes. Performance, Content, Elegance, these are clearly important features to users. If you’re not getting it right, you’re reflecting poorly on your brand as a whole – not just this one app.
So go find your app’s Applause Score and make sure you’re not disappointing users. If one of your Attribute Scores is a little low check out the Attribute Signals to see what the issue is. The signals will help you pinpoint problems like if your app is crashing, if it’s too slow, if the information it’s providing isn’t right, if it wasn’t what users expected from the app description and a lot of other very helpful information.
Don’t let a bad app destroy your company’s reputation. Listen to your users.
The summer blockbuster season is well underway, which means that millions of moviegoers are using their smartphones and tablets to download bootlegged copies of their favorite films. Kidding, kidding (hopefully). Instead, they should be using their devices to watch trailers, read reviews, find showtimes & theaters, buy tickets and NOT text or talk during the movie.
It just so happens that these features (and others) can be found in three of the most popular movie apps. If you’re a film buff, you probably own all of them, but if you’re on fence, take a look at the comparisons below. For the sake of variety – and because I’m a WP8 user - I decided to rank the Windows Phone versions of these apps.
Applause Score: 57
Top 3 Attributes: Elegance (82), Usability (77), Privacy (76)
Bottom 3 Attributes: Stability (33), Security (49), Interoperability (51)
Summary: I’m with the majority on this one – the IMDb app is extremely well-designed and usable, taking full advantage of the unique metro design of the Windows Phone operating system. Of course, like a lot of apps, it’s great…when it works. It’s clear from the score (and reviews) that the WP8 version is prone to frequent crashes and freezes. Wrote one user: “The app isn’t running on my Lumia 920. I just installed it and when I try opening it, it starts and goes off. Is anyone having the same problems?”
Applause Score: 88
Top 3 Attributes: Usability (95), Pricing (95), Privacy (94)
Bottom 3 Attributes: Security (49), Interoperability (76), Stability (78)
Summary: It’s hard to not like the Flixster app, as evidenced by the exceptionally high Applause score. While I can’t argue with the numbers, I can say that, personally, what I like most about this application is the amazing range of content (and the WP8 version doesn’t even have the option to stream and download movies). Here’s a five-star review that’s fairly indicative of how other view it: “Great app! The only thing I don’t like is they don’t have a place where you can sign into your Flixster account from the apps, so that you could view your profile and watch your ultraviolet movies. Other than that it works great.”
Applause Score: 65
Top 3 Attributes: Usability (90), Satisfaction (62), Content (61)
Bottom 3 Attributes: Security (49), Interoperability (56), Performance (60)
Summary: Among the three apps under review here, Fandango might be the most action-orientated of them all. The app is extremely easy to use (hence the high 90 attribute score), in that it clearly directs users to buy purchase tickets. It even offers them a “go or no-go” suggestion based on the movie ratings and reviews of others. It’s clear however that the app could use some optimization specific to the Windows Phone OS (hence the lower Interoperability rating). Here’s a 3-star review that sums it up: “Will get five stars once this gets support for Windows Phone 8 resolutions.”
Because the features of these apps are not entirely the same, this is not exactly an apples to apples comparison. Still, I hope it gave you an idea as to how these apps stack up to one another.
What’s your favorite movie app? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below.
Earlier this week I wrote on the uTest Software Testing Blog about the importance of transparency when it comes to privacy policies. Inspired by the recent NSA surveillance news I took the opportunity to point out that while people value their privacy, they also value transparency. Users might be OK with the way you’re using their data as long as you tell them beforehand.
Want to know if your app is doing a good job with privacy protocols? Keep an eye on the Applause Privacy attribute. This attribute will give you an idea what users are saying about things like how your app handles personal information, identity, how scammy or spammy it seems, their concerns about information being stolen and, the one that ties in most closely with transparency, trustworthiness.
Trustworthiness isn’t just about if users think your app does enough to protect their privacy – it tells you what users think about your company and brand. If users think an app isn’t trustworthy, odds are they think the company behind the app isn’t trustworthy. This can be because you don’t value their privacy, don’t do enough to protect their privacy or simply aren’t forthcoming enough with your privacy policies (looking at the other Privacy attribute signals can help you figure out which one is the problem).
This attribute is particularly a problem for apps that require users to sign in or center around user sharing.
Facebook is infamous for not being transparent enough when it comes to user privacy and data. From the uTest Blog:
A lack of transparency (among other things) has landed Facebook in hot water more than once. In 2011 Facebook was forced by the FTC to adopt more transparent privacy practices – and to stick to them. From Macworld (emphasis mine):
Facebook is barred from making further deceptive claims about privacy, and it is required that the company get consumers’ approval before it changes the way it shares their data. The proposed settlement also requires Facebook to obtain periodic assessments of its privacy practices by independent auditors over the next 20 years, the FTC said.
The social media site also found itself in trouble outside the US for similar reasons. Strict European standards forced the company to address further transparency issues. From Reuters (again, emphasis mine):
[Facebook] was told by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner last December to overhaul privacy protection for its users outside the United States and Canada, after a probe found its privacy policies were too complex and lacked transparency.
Those issues have influenced how users feel about Facebook’s trustworthiness and that is reflected in the Applause data. Both the Android and iOS version of the Facebook app earn nothing but 1-star ratings in the “trustworthy” signal. Facebook needs to pay particular attention to its Android users, who have an overwhelmingly negative perception of the company’s privacy. iOS users are a bit more neutral, but still aren’t blown away by the company when it comes to privacy.
Google+, on the other hand, is extremely trustworthy in the eyes of users. Users of the iOS app give G+ an above average privacy score and the trustworthy signal is 100% 5-star ratings. (There is not Applause data at the moment for the Android version of the app.)
Google is more dedicated to privacy and transparency than Facebook and users can tell.
Apple’s buggy launch of Apple Maps sent users on a hunt for the Golden Gate bridge and Google’s acquisition of Waze this week tells us – well yeah, map apps are a big deal right now.
So let’s look at the map apps that help users find their way, and the ones that are better off getting ‘lost’ themselves. Here’s the breakdown according to Applause data:
iOS Applause Score: 61
Android Applause Score: 64
iOS Applause Score: 63
Android Applause Score: 49
Beat the Traffic:
iOS Applause Score: 47
Android Applause Score: 64
iOS Applause Score: 54
Android Applause Score: 64
iOS Applause Score: 23
Android Applause Score: 9
Sygic GPS Navigation
iOS Applause Score: 51
Android Applause Score: 45
Continuing our series exploring the Applause attributes, this week we’d like to discuss Satisfaction. So the question is: Is your app engaging, fun or even healthily addictive to users? In short, do they love the app?
While each of the Applause metrics plays a role in user satisfaction. It is important to listen to your users to hear whether or not they think they are satisfied. Users that are engaged with your app and find your app interesting are more likely to return and keep your app open, meaning more interaction, and potentially more revenue depending on your business model.
With each new version of the app, be sure that you are not overwhelming users with excessive features or bogging down their use in anyway. User satisfaction can take quick and unpleasant turn with a poorly built and tested update. Don’t update your app for the sake of updating your app. I recently was updating my apps when I saw a description that said “This is the inevitable update that fixes a bunch of bugs after our big 3.0 update.” I decided not to update the app because as a user I felt that the developer did not care about my time or interaction with the app.
App name and description can play into user satisfaction. While using buzzwords may be tempting, make sure the app name and description accurately describe the app and its offerings. If users download your app only to find it’s not quite what they wanted or provides sub-par services it will surely be abandoned. It could also receive a negative review that will warn future users away. Abusing trendy words can also get you penalized by the app stores themselves. Google implemented some changes after a study found keyword abuse in the Google Play store. The new app ranking algorithm now takes user reviews into account, just another incentive to pay attention to reviews.
Applause is watching out for words and phrases like “crashes,” “froze,” “hang,” “unreliable” and “kicked me out.”
Summer vacation season is officially starting – kids are getting out of school, long awaited trips are just on the horizon, people (me) are wondering if it’s too early to start packing for that trip three weeks from now. A mainstay of past vacations has been the trusty guide book – that handy manual that gives you all the facts, tidbits and places of interest for your destination. But these tomes are thick, hard to get through on shorter trips, take up a lot of precious bag space and are burdensome to carry around while sightseeing (not to mention making you stand out as a tourist).
They’re also much more likely to be out-of-date compared to mobile apps or the web, which are people’s new go-to when looking up just about anything from the history of that statue to the hottest nearby restaurant. To keep up it makes sense that travel guide publishers are going to have to embrace mobile apps. This move makes sense for brands – it’s easier to update content and more people are likely to use an app than buy and carry a book. The question becomes, which of the big name guide books will come out with the best app? This new field is wide open and leaves a lot of room for a smaller player to steal away market share. As it turns out, Frommer’s has already jumped on the bandwagon and is miles ahead of the competitors.
Frommer’s has a handful of “Day by Day” iOS apps for major tourist destinations. Some don’t have enough data to generate an Applause Score, but those that do all have a Score of 91 or higher. The apps don’t have a below average attribute score among them (though they don’t have scores in every attribute at the moment). Usability is an across the board favorite and users are more than pleased with the content the apps offer. Frommer’s is setting the bar high for mobile travel guides … and the other big names have some catching up to do.
Fodor’s seems to be putting their focus on creating one central app that covers all locations, and they’re not doing a bad job. Fordor’s City Guides – Expert Travel Advice has an Applause Score of 71 and are keeping users happy in terms of performance, usability and privacy. If Fodor’s wants to make users even happier they need to take another look at touch screen functionality and content syncing and download – those are the biggest drivers of one-star ratings.
Lonely Planet’s overall app (Lonely Planet Travel Guides, Phrasebooks and Maps) fails to meet user expectations. With an overall Applause Score of 27, the app’s performance is its most promising feature. But fast performance isn’t enough to overcome a confusing layout and inaccurate, insufficient content. The publisher’s individual city guides don’t fair much better. The city guides tend to have Applause scores in the 20s-40s, but there are a few standouts (Washington DC scores a 67). There’s no one stand-out issue that’s dragging the scores down, Lonely Planet just needs to take a look at what its users are saying and figure out what they really want. Where Lonely Planet is doing a bit better is with its Phrasebook apps. While some of these apps are still scoring in the 20s, others are reaching up into the 70s (users are pretty pleased with the Mandarin Phrasebook).
Time Out is also all over the board – the Paris Guide has an Applause Score of 91 while the New York version has a score of 25. A few cities have scores somewhere in between and others don’t have an Applause Score yet. Time Out’s main problem is consistency. Even among apps on the same platform, reviews praise the content and usability of one city app while complaining about those attributes in the app for a different city. If Time Out wants to prove its brand is worth the download every time, everywhere, it needs to make sure all its apps are doing well and pleasing users. Time out needs to spend time reviewing the praises and complaints for each of its apps to figure out where things are going wrong and why Paris is succeeding.
Rough Guides is perhaps putting the most emphasis on mobile apps, offering city-specific mobile guides across Android, iOS and Windows Phone (more than 20 apps). At the moment these apps don’t have enough meaningful data to generate Applause scores (be sure to check the “Include apps with no Applause Score” box to see the Rough Guides apps), but Rough Guides appears to be making a big push toward mobile. If done right, they could take this field by storm and be hard to catch up with.
This is a new field for an industry that’s used to publishing physical paper books. If one of these famous names can find the formula for creating the perfect travel guide app, they have the opportunity to capture a lot of users. They need to tread carefully though, listen to user reviews and figure out how these apps need to be different than their books – you can’t take a website and scale it down to mobile and you certainly can’t just make a book into a mobile app. Plus, there’s the threat of competition from new mobile-only travel guides that are already doing well. Good luck and may the best guide win!
As Applause has taught us, one of the more common complaints among app users revolves around price. “Make it free!” they write, and usually, they are writing that in regards to an app that costs less than a buck! Bunch of freeloaders ;)
Of course, there are apps that cost more than a dollar. Indeed, there are apps that cost hundreds of dollars. So how do users feel about these apps? Are they more critical in their reviews? Do they complain more about the price or the functionality? To find out, we took a look at 3 of the more expensive iPhone apps. They included:
- Score: 53
- Top Attributes: Usability, Performance, Content
- Pricing: 35 (below the mean)
Summary: A look through the reviews that included the word pricing turned up some interesting results. For one, many users gave the app a five-star rating despite complaining about the price. They (medical professionals) found the app to be incredibly useful and usable, and in that regard the price was a necessary evil. Those who gave it a one-star review also complained about the price, but they had experienced random crashing and other performance issues. With this app, price was not a deal breaker, but performance was.
- Score: 93
- Top Attributes: Pricing, Performance, Stability
- Pricing: 100
Summary: Though it’s intended for a very niche audience (dentists), it’s an audience that absolutely loves the app. As one user wrote, “I am loving the ability to make my own custom demonstrations for the patient, while the patient is still in the chair. I am able to add their images and create it fast, then use DDS GP functions to show the sequence, explain their diagnosis and draw on the images to explain things.” For the functionality it offers, almost no user complained about pricing.
- Score: 71
- Top attributes: No sufficient data
- Pricing: No sufficient data
Summary: Would you pay $219.99 for a water globe? How about a water globe app? Apparently some people have…by accident. Despite the relatively high score, the review stream is filled with people insisting they had been tricked into downloading the paid version. I hope you were not one of them.
The lesson here is that if you’re going to launch a high-end app (i.e. more than $50), then you need to offer something of value to a very specific audience. Imaging tools to dentists and doctors, for instance (not water globes to the masses).
Have you downloaded an app that cost more than $100? What was your experience? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below.
One of the 10 important app attributes Applause tracks is Content. You may be thinking to yourself that this is an easy one – just make sure any text in the app is understandable and typo-free and you should have a perfect score! If only it were that easy.
When it comes to mobile apps, content is a multifaceted thing. Here are the review signals that feed into the content attribute in Applause:
Content is about more than just proper grammar, it’s about getting the context of those words right. The information your app supplies needs to be pertinent and answer the users’ questions. Search results and any data that’s being pulled needs to be right and enough to satisfy the user. If your app relies on geo-location, it needs to correctly identify where the user is and what’s nearby.
Ad content even factors in – an ad should offer up something the user could feasible want. A semi-famous example of this is when a kid’s app hosted ads for a singles site. Users don’t like ads and they like them even less if the content they’re offering seems totally out of left field or worse, inappropriate or offensive.
These signals can be broken down into four main themes: Correctness of content (accurate, correct, data, information, mistake, precise); Availability of content (download, sycn); Appropriateness (ads, content); and Completeness (limited, missing).
If you want to please users with your content, you need to make sure all four of those sub-categories are correct. All the content your app offers up to users – be it static copy, ads or search results – needs to make sense, be what the user is looking for and not leave them wanting more.
Do you make mobile purchases on retail apps? A lot of people do. Mobile commerce is growing – fast. Consumers are spending more and more within mobile applications, and according to an article today by Business Insider’s Josh Luger, mobile- generated retail spend could rise to 15% of retail e-commerce by the end of this year.
If consumers are spending so much on retail apps, which ones are they using and which ones have they turned away from?
Here’s a look at some of the top retail apps and how they stack up in Applause:
CVS’ Apple app is well-regarded by users, with a very high usability score of 87. User reviews in the review stream mention; “Easy to use”, “So simple” and a beautiful lay out. However, the app’s content score is on the low side, with a score at 11. Several users reviews mention missing functionality and pieces to the application that they wish were included in the app’s build. Content and functionality would be a good area to improve in, but CVS has their overall design and user experience in a good place.
With two fairly high Applause scores for both Android and iOS, both of the apps seem to have (like CVS) good usability scores that are highly reviewed by users. Users in the Applause stream feature mention that the app makes their “life easier”, “is helpful” and “convenient”. However, both of the apps might need improvements in stability and security.
With a higher Applause score for iOS, both of IKEA’s Catalog apps have (again!) usability as their highest attribute; iOS at 79 and Android at 49. Security and stability both need improvements, which indicates that a pattern is emerging among retail applications.
Looking at the Applause data, it is evident that usability has been a main focus for many retail apps. Having a retail application that is clean and intuitive for retail companies’ target audiences is essential to driving in-app purchases and user loyalty. However, while many retail apps are focusing on usability, they are also overlooking the stability or security of their app. For retail apps this is a big issue. If an app is crashing or experiencing security problems while a user is trying to make an in-app purchase, the retail company could have a big problem on their hands. Developers need to reconsider their QA strategies in order to ensure the entirety of their application is of the highest quality.
Search your app, or look up another retail app on Applause – Find an app now.
This past Monday night, Applause had the honor of taking home the recognition of the Most Insightful Big Data and Analytics Innovation of 2013 by the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange.
The award recognizes “products [… which] help to create actionable value for their users as a result of insightfully spotting trends, patterns, and unanticipated relationships.”
We’d like to also extend our congratulations to all of the finalists and award winners.
We are truly humbled to receive this honor and would like to thank our users for their early feedback and our uTest Labs team for their continued innovation.
And in case you missed it, USA Today has tuned into the power of Applause data in their article, How to find the best travel apps (and avoid the worst).
American Banker, a publication dedicated to banking technology, recently recognized several organizations in a “Mobile Banker of the Year” package. The resounding theme touted by those featured wasn’t the importance of security or privacy, like you might think, it was the importance of usability. From American Banker:
We heard it again and again from Charaka Kithulegoda and other bankers honored in our Mobile Banker of the Year package this year: simplicity and ease of use are the keys to sound mobile banking app design.
The article discusses particularly cool and useful features recently rolled out by some major banks. Do users find these apps as useful as the industry thinks they are?
Bank of the West
“Bank of the West’s new Quick Balance feature lets customers take a peek at their account balance before making a purchase or paying a bill, without having to log in to mobile banking.”
While the bank doesn’t have particularly high Applause Scores, usability is one of the top rated attributes. On iOS, usability is tied for highest scoring attribute, customers find the app easy to use and enjoy the layout. Android usability (and the app overall) scores even higher – pulling in an attribute score of 69, much higher than the other attributes. Once again, customers find the app easy to understand and simple to use.
“Three banks (U.S. Bank, City Bank Texas and FFIN) rolled out the ability to pay a bill by snapping a picture of it with a smartphone camera, making a painful chore much more palatable.” (U.S. Bank is the only one with enough meaning Applause data to generate a score.)
U.S. Bank’s Android app scores high in several attributes, but usability comes out on top with an impressive attribute score of 73 – close to the attribute mean. While plenty of people find the app’s usability pleasing, the bank should take a look at control issues and bugs which are driving a significant number of low star reviews. The app’s usability on iOS is lower but it remains the highest scoring attribute. Users have mixed opinions on whether the app is easy to use or frustrating.
“ING Direct is letting people log in to their bank account through Facebook and is testing voice biometrics as an alternative to passwords.”
Once again, usability is the top rated attribute on both the iOS and Android versions of this bank’s app (ING has several Android app versions, I’m looking at ING Direct Canada since it is the first search result in Google Play). On iOS, usability scores in the 50s and has a mix of related star ratings. On Android, however, usability surpasses the average for this app category with an astounding usability score of 87. Short of some bug reports and mixed reviews of the app’s interface, customers using Android are blown away by the app’s usability.
When banks say they’re focusing on usability they mean it – and their customers are noticing. If you’re in charge of a mobile banking app, make sure app usability is toward the top of your priority list, you don’t want to be left behind!
When a company or developer notices that users are uninstalling their application, it’s critical they act fast by identifying and fixing the issue(s) as quickly as possible. There are countless reasons why users might uninstall an application, such as; the app won’t load, users don’t like the app’s UX, the app is too buggy… the list goes on.
A recent post on VentureBeat highlights the 5 top most common reasons users uninstall a mobile app. Here’s a look:
- “The app crashes or freezes: Few things are as frustrating as a mobile app that continually crashes, hangs, or freezes. Slow performance (or sometimes, no performance) is the number one reason why users abandon a mobile app. A recent study found that 79 percent of users said they would retry an app once or twice if it failed to work the first time. Only 16 percent said they would give it more than two attempts. Data from Applause (a mobile app analytics tool) shows that reviews with the word “crash” are eight times more likely to be 1 or 2 stars than the average review. The good developers will test their mobile apps, identify the root cause, and make it a top priority to release a bug-fix. So if you like the idea of the app and are willing to wait for a fix, you should do so. But if the problem persists and no one seems to be doing anything about it, it might be time to get rid of it.
- The app isn’t intuitive to use: Apps should make our lives easier and more enjoyable. If an app accomplishes neither – if it makes life more difficult – users will likely go elsewhere. Believe it or not, app design is really more of a science than an art; there are proven standards for layout, design and functionality. Maybe the app does a poor job of adapting to portrait resolution; maybe key information is hidden in a complex navigation; maybe icons and buttons are too small or grouped too closely together. There are a number of usability problems that plague mobile apps. While one hang-up might not push one over the edge, when combined, they often result in users uninstalling the app.
- The app is collecting your personal info (without your consent): Developers have historically been liberal in asking for permissions, typically requesting more access than is strictly necessary for the app to function properly. In early 2012 it came to light that apps were accessing address books and other data and features without any good reason. This practice was exposed by the media to much public backlash, resulting in many operating systems keeping a closer eye on permissions. While it might be technically legal for an app to collect excessive data (calendar, address book, location) or require one to sign-up using their social credentials, the practice has come to be frowned upon by users.
- Users prefer the mobile web version: It’s increasingly rare – the numbers don’t lie – but sometimes users simply prefer the mobile web version of a product or service to that of the native app. At uTest, we’re still seeing the mobile web as “in addition to” native apps, not “instead of” the native versions. As HTML 5 matures, along with the advent of responsive design and 4G speeds, we expect to see more users opting for the mobile web, even though we firmly believe that apps are here to stay.
- The app is not optimized for the device: It’s rather common in the mobile world for developers to “port” their existing smartphone apps to the tablet. In doing so, they severely limit the user experience. As usability guru Jackob Nielsen once pointed out, “The bigger screen of the tablet allows one to include features, and more focus on immersive use over longer periods of time than the quick hits that are most useful on phone-sized devices.” In other words, if you launch a “one size fits all app”, don’t be surprised when users uninstall it on one (or all) of their devices.”
With so many possible causes, it’s hard to determine why. What specifically is making users unhappy with your app?
Using Applause, developers and business owners can gauge what users are saying about their app (both good and bad). By looking at an app’s Applause Attributes, one can get a better idea of where users are unhappy; whether it be the relevancy of the content, elegance of the app, stability or performance. Any low Attribute scores may indicate the reason behind the multiple uninstalls. From there, one can search the app’s Review Stream to get specifics about what users are experiencing.
Are users uninstalling your app? Search your app on Applause now.
We created and launched Applause to help developers, marketers and business owners understand what users liked – and did not like – about their various mobile applications. In doing so, we discovered that there are essentially two type of app developers/owners:
- Those who primarily focus on the positive feedback
- Those who primarily focus on the negative feedback
This post is written is not written for the first group, but rather those who focus on the negative. While it’s important to be mindful of the negative feedback (especially if it’s related to specific bugs) I would argue that developers would be better off spending their time reviewing the positive feedback. There’s a reason we called it “Applause” and not “Boos and Hisses.”
Here are a few reasons why:
- It’s gratifying: This might seem vain, but knowing that your app is delighting users can gives you positive reinforcement – validating your vision, execution and hard work. This why you do what you do! There’s also something to be said of the nature of reviews in general. Most of the time – and this is total assumption – people take to the app store review section to air a grievance. These people went out of their way to do just the opposite.
- It highlights areas that can be enhanced: You see all of those features and functionalities that users love? Find ways to keep those features solid as you iterate, and find ways to enhance said features without taking anything off of the table. Without positive feedback, developers run the risk of adding features that only a small (but vocal) subset of users are demanding.
- These are your power users: Similar to the first point, this is the group of people that use your app on a regular basis. They are the people that pay the bills and help spread the word. In short, this is your target market.
- Get an edge: The positive comments – the five-star reviews – will highlight areas that your app excels in. If you’re doing something better than a competitor, this will be the place to determine what those things are. You can also use the Applause “collections” feature.
- Get more resources: App development is often neglected – in terms of attention and resources – within a company. By showing the top brass that your efforts are increasing brand loyalty, you might get a larger share of the budget, some additional dev help (and maybe) a vacation.
What are your reasons for focusing on the positive feedback? Be sure to leave your (positive) feedback in the comments section below.
An important part of having a successful app is making sure it works correctly in-the-wild, on the devices, carriers and locations your users are actually in. If you want to keep users happy, keep an eye on popular devices and user sentiment toward manufacturers and carriers. If a manufacturer’s latest device was a tremendous disappointment it can effect users’ perception of your app. If a carrier has poor network coverage and your app crashes because of it, people will place at least part of the blame on your app (whether it’s rational or not).
While no one manufacturer has made giant strides or fallen from grace lately, things are changing. A recent American Customer Satisfaction Index report found that Apple isn’t pleasing users as much as they used to and Samsung is making some interesting headway. From CNET:
Apple received a score of 81 (on a scale of 100) in terms of customer satisfaction. But the company dropped 2 percent from its 2012 position, and the iPhone lags the customer satisfaction rating of 86 for Apple’s desktop, laptop, and tablet business.
At the same time, satisfaction with Motorola phones jumped 5 percent from 2012 to 77, and Nokia grew 1 percent to 76. Samsung posted the biggest gain of all handset makers, up 7 percent to 76. …
Other decliners included HTC and LG, while BlackBerry was flat at 69.
Clearly that 2% drop doesn’t mean you’re going to stop developing for iOS, but if you haven’t yet expanded to Android you may want to – your customers are.
Though device fragmentation is at the top of mind for many app developers, network coverage is another important consideration for apps. Which carriers are present in the areas where your users live? How is the coverage there? How does your app perform under poor connectivity? These are all important to your app’s real-world success.
Are you only testing on AT&T and Verizon? You may be missing some key players that your users love. In the American Customer Satisfaction Index report Sprint came in second in terms of consumer satisfaction. You might want to add them to your testing criteria.
Don’t panic when trends change, but don’t stay blind to shifting public sentiment either. Creating a successful mobile app is a multi-step process – you have to identify where your users are (in terms of location and devices) and what they want, spend time developing a good app, thoroughly test it against a ton of use cases and continue to monitor and tweak it once users start putting in their two cents. If you leave out or slack on any of those steps, your app is sure to disappoint.
With close to 1.5 million apps available in the app stores, are you confident your app is stable enough to meet your users demands? According to a study by Compuware, “79 percent would retry a mobile app only once or twice if it failed to work the first time.” The Stability attribute in Applause helps you understand what your users are saying about crashes, freezes and lags within your app. In short, it helps you to understand if your app working the first time, and every time.
Regardless of whether your app is free or paid, users can switch to the competition in a matter of clicks, taps or swipes. You can lose revenue not just from a decrease in sales, but also less time spent in the app when serving up ads. And in the age of social media, when users have an extremely wide-reaching platform to voice their opinion, you’ll want to ensure stability is one of those elements of your apps that just works.
What to watch for: Words and phrases like “crashes,” “froze,” “hang,” “unreliable” and “kicked me out.”
It could, or it could simply mean that one person had a bad experience with your application. Take SuperShuttle, for example. The app which allows users to book airport shuttle services on-the-go, was recently reviewed in CITEWorld, by Ryan Faas:
“It crashed and froze repeatedly. Forms refused to validate what I’d entered even though I entered as instructed. By the time I got to the point to enter payment, I’d gone through security and the line to get coffee and a bagel from Dunkin’ Donuts, and gotten to my gate. After entering my debit card into the app, it crashed again and I had no idea if I’d been billed or not.
After confirming via my bank’s mobile app that I hadn’t been charged, I deleted the app with a sigh of disgust. I was so disgusted at that point that I decided to just get a cab. That decision actually ended up saving about $20. I haven’t used SuperShuttle since. I’m actually not sure if I ever will.”
Faas’ review is a red flag for the mobile development and QA team at SuperShuttle, and prompts the question of whether or not this an issue for more of the app’s users.
Being able to identify whether or not an issue exists only in one instance – or for a fair amount of the app’s user base - is extremely important. A good way to gauge an overall view of what your app’s users are saying is through Applause. If a review like this exists, and the app’s Applause score is low, then the company behind the app needs to act immediately to test and make fixes.
On the other hand, if the app’s Applause score is higher, then there are probably some things within the application that the development team can improve upon but one poor review or article isn’t the end of the world. Here’s a look at where SuperShuttle ranks in Applause:
SuperShuttle for iOS: 39
SuperShuttle for Android: 6
It looks like other users have experienced the same type of issues with SuperShuttle that Faas did, meaning SuperShuttle’s got some cleaning up to do. Interestingly enough, Faas also mentioned his love for the SuperShuttle mobile web app:
“…I poked around the company’s mobile-optimized website. It performed perfectly. If the native app performed like that, I would’ve used SuperShuttle on that trip. This is definitely a situation where no native app would’ve been a better option. Because I found that poorly designed app, it didn’t even occur to me at the time that the company would have a really good web app. If I’d searched the App Store without finding anything, I would’ve gone to the company’s site and automatically been redirected to the mobile version.”
This suggests that no mobile app is better than a bad one, and Faas is right. While native apps are driving massive bottom line growth for businesses of all sizes, there is too much at stake to put buggy software in the hands of users. If you aren’t willing to invest time, resources and money into a quality application, don’t build an app in the first place – it could cost you your brand.
Is your app intuitive and easy to use for all users on all devices?
Today, when app designers talk usability they usually are talking about scaling screen size and interface objects. But usability is much, much more than that.
In fact, Nick Statt of ReadWrite Mobile says it’s time for app designers to rethink the principles of mobile app design all together:
Instead of worrying about questions like whether to upsize smartphone apps for tablets, designers should start by asking how their users will physically interact with their devices when using an app.
The technical term for this is input type—keyboard versus touchscreen, one-handed or two-handed interactions, and the like. This requires designers to think about how a device is held, which fingers are used, and how the app in question can optimize the experience for users’ dexterity.”
Statt adds that with the adoption of responsive design and other development approaches we’ve gotten to a “one-size-fits-all” state. However, it’s not about scaling the layout of the interface objects up and down, it’s about scaling the entire app experience. The way in which users hold and interact with their phones is no longer static, and requires looking at usability in a new light.
Analyzing Applause data, even some of the top rated apps within Applause contain user reviews mentioning that the app does not scale in a user-friendly way across devices. Here’s a look at some of the reviews:
- “…Un-updated apps look & feel terrible on the taller iPhone 5 screen”
- “I only wish the screen would adapt to vertical or horizontal orientation”
- “All the type and the layout of the board are just a little too small on the iPhone. As such this probably works better on the mini. Changing typeface would help a lot.”
- “Controls are not very good. Dragging around on the touch gives you really bad layout on the track”
- “I really liked this app on my 10” tablet, but it doesn’t work very well on my phone or 7” tablet.”
- “Laggy on nexus ten but I love the input zone feature! Please optimize..”
- “It is a nice software. However, I have some problems with it in my Nexus 7.”
- “When I saw noteability for iPad, I looked for an Android equivalent. There are still features missing, and the handwriting recognition resolution still leaves a lot to be desired.”
- “Everything is now horizontal so you hardly see anything on the screen. Natural swiping motion is vertical. Doesn’t work well.”
- “New view looks terrible on the iPhone”
- “New layout. Movies, etc by actor is no longer chronological, at least on iPhone.”
Keep in mind, these are some of the best, most highly reviewed apps according to Applause. However, despite their wild success, users of these applications are still experience cross-device usability issues. As the number of devices continues to grow, and as users continue to utilize applications in different ways, testing for usability will need to be greatly scaled out in order to produce successful applications with intuitive user experiences.
Device fragmentation isn’t going to get smaller – and neither are user expectations.
Check out what users are saying about your app’s usability by searching an app on Applause.
Applause has gained a lot of traction and attention since launching in January. We were recently named a Gartner 2013 “Cool Vendor.” The past five months have been a fun ride and we’re excited that so many people see the benefit of explicit, actionable data on the millions of apps out there.
And Applause drew some more attention at this week’s CTIA event in Las Vegas – it was named one of the 2013 E-Tech Award winners.
Attendees voted on the E-Tech awards and an online panel of “highly-respected industry experts, reporters and analysts” ultimately judged the submissions on “innovation, functionality, technological importance, implementation and overall ‘wow’ factor,” according to the CTIA blog.
We’re proud, honored and humbled to announce that Applause took home 3rd place in the Enterprise Solution – General Business category!
Congratulations to Ericsson’s Connected Vehicle Cloud and GPS Dashboard LLC’s “Check in” App for Salesforce.com, which took first and second place, respectively, and to all the nominees. And thank you to everyone who voted for Applause!
Continuing our series exploring the Applause attributes, we’d like to explore Elegance. So the question is: Does your app cause users to brag about it to their friends? How attractive, cool or slick is an app’s design?
What are you doing to win the hearts and wallets of your users? Apps that tend to top the charts in their respective app store tend to have solid Elegance ratings. That means developers are designing apps to delight their users. Let’s not confuse this with the usability of apps. Applause also analyzes reviews to understand how usable and intuitive an app is. Elegance, though, is more experiential.
Are your users impressed with the dedication you put in to the graphics? Do they feel the interfaces you chose are attractive? Is it too simple? Or is your app too utilitarian? Did you simply port your mobile website into a wrapper or take time to think about what your users would like to see out of a device-specific app?
With users able to switch to your competitor in a matter of clicks, taking the time to create an elegant app can help improve the bragability of your app and give you a stellar reputation.
“Mobile apps are often judged by their icons and interfaces; all it takes to make a bad impression is a dated design, no matter how useful or well-coded your app is.” – The Next Web
What to watch for: Watch for the words like “appealing,” “attractive,” and “ugly,” and be sure to stay up on the latest trends from pull-to-refresh to which resolutions your app should perform in.