What Mobile Users Expect from Mobile Apps

Daniel Knott Daniel Knott
minute read
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The better a mobile app satisfies user expectations, the higher they set the bar. Therefore fulfilling mobile users’ expectations is an ongoing process.

With the appearance of the Apple iPhone in 2007 and later the Android mobile phones, the possibility of installing applications on mobile devices became more common to a broad part of the population. The strict guidelines for the inclusion of apps in the Apple App Store at the very beginning and a rapidly growing market of competing third-party app vendors over the past years have significantly influenced what a good app defines.

But every ‘good’ and successful mobile app reflects the fact that the expectations of the users handling the mobile apps has been met to a decent level of satisfaction. Due to several mobile app usage surveys and user reports from the likes of Teachbeacon and Arctouch, mobile users have far higher expectations of mobile apps and responsive web pages compared to software like desktop applications.

Not surprisingly, it is essential to look regularly at the expectations of mobile users in order to make sure the mobile app you are managing is not bypassing the actual needs and preferences of the actual customers. Therefore let me give you from my personal experience as a Lead Software Test Engineer an overview on the expectations mobile user tend to have.

What Are the Main Reasons Mobile Users Abandoning a Mobile App?

The majority of reports and surveys point to top four reasons why 80% of users delete an app after using it for the first time. These are bad design, poor user experience, slow load time, and crashes immediately after installation.

Positively speaking you can deduce that mobile users have really high expectations when it comes to usability, performance and reliability. Those three points are by far the biggest complaints/preferences when mobile users were asked about their experience with mobile apps.

All of these positive and negative aspects can be detected by the user while getting to know the app for the first time and gaining his very first impressions. Therefore introducing your users to your mobile app is one of the earliest and most important interactions you will have with your users and has great risk for mobile app abandonment.

Which Aspects of an App Make the First Impression?

The overall mobile user experience is the key of success for mobile apps. There are many points mobile development teams need to cover in order to have happy customers. Most important is the app’s load time. It’s the very first impression after the its installation. If the app needs more than two seconds upon its first load, many users will uninstall the app with a few taps and move on to the next one.

Another highly important area is the design of the app. The buttons, logos, and text must fit into the layout and be easy to use. Especially with text needing translations (often resulting is differing character length) it is very important that it maintains the same look and feel.

The Simpler and Intuitive a Mobile App is the Better

A golden rule to appease end users is that unnecessary steps within the app must be removed. For example, if there is a number input field, an app must show the number keyboard after tapping into this field. Don’t show the normal keyboard as it leads to an unnecessary action for the user.

Something else every designer needs keep top of mind is whether the app is usable with one hand. As screen sizes continue to grow, it is often difficult for users to reach the top left or right corners. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any necessary actions to take with that motion. Also, consider the size of buttons and logos. Are those elements easy to read and to understand? A mobile app must be self-explanatory and follow the design and interaction patterns provided by the platform.

Mobile Users Expect their Apps to be Fast without Causing Battery Issues

Though mobile phones come with a variety of great features, each one takes a toll on the phone’s battery life. From a user’s perspective apps can greatly simplify complex processes, but this does not justify an app consuming battery as much as two apps.

Let me give you an example:

When an e-commerce app is offering lots of images to showcase products it’s really important to provide an image zoom. With the help of mobile gestures, the user can use the pinch to zoom gesture to enlarge the image to get more details. However, when the app is using many images, it’s important to keep an eye on the image size. Large images require more data to be fetched from the backend and have a huge impact in app loading times as well as mobile data usage.

During the development phase, it’s important to check on how the app affects a phone’s battery power. If the app is running any superfluous services when the app is closed, users will quickly see the impact their battery diminish.

Along with battery drainage, data usage is also key to app usage. As mentioned before, when an app requires lots of images, it’s important to include most of the images into the app and not being downloaded every single time from a server. If this is not possible, it’s important to minimize the images as much as possible to get the best possible quality with the least image size. The app should only send and request the data that is needed to perform the current task and not more.

Stay on Top of Your Mobile User’s Expectation by Collecting Relevant Data

If your mobile development team has covered the aforementioned areas, it’s very likely that the app will be well-liked by its users. However, with nearly six million apps available in the app stores (many of which are likely similar to yours), just one flaw can cause users to switch over to your competitor.

To avoid that situation, it’s important to gather as much data as possible on the needs and preferences (both on products and features) of your consumer. With the help of the data, the mobile development team and product owners/managers can confidently develop the right product to meet high user expectations.

Data can be collected through many means, including existing product data, usability studies, or market research. Once the data is gathered, a mobile QA/testing team can perform intensive testing like functional tests to check that the mobile app is running smoothly across various devices in a variety of different scenarios.

The better a mobile app satisfies user expectations, the higher they set the bar. Therefore fulfilling mobile users’ expectations is an ongoing process. For an app to constantly meet the needs and preferences of the users under real world conditions, QA needs to be a primary focus. Crowdtesting can help keep you one step ahead.

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