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What Makes An App Great?

April 27, 2020

Mobile apps have become an integral part of our lives today and continue to grow in popularity. We use them to stay connected with our loved ones, conduct business and solve everyday problems. An astounding 90% of our screen time is spent on apps, and according to statistics, the average smartphone user uses 9 apps per day and 30 apps per month, with an estimated 57% of all digital media usage coming solely from apps. Back in 2018, Internet users had downloaded a whopping 205 billion apps. That number is projected to grow to 258+ billion by 2022. The demand for apps is ever-growing.

The success of apps depends wholly on the number of downloads. Even if you create the best app, if there is low user interest and few downloads, that translates to poor revenue for businesses. All great apps have both human-centric and business-centric features that strive to solve users’ problems through creative and technical solutions.

What are the different types of mobile apps?

Mobile apps are categorised into three types:

Native apps
Native apps are designed to run only on particular mobile platforms, for example, apps designed for iOS devices will not run on Android devices. Native apps can be installed through an application store. They are designed to take full advantage of all the native features; information and hardware of the device, such as the camera, GPS, list of contacts and so forth.  Native apps can operate offline through the mobile device’s notification system. Examples of native apps include Instagram and SoundCloud.

Mobile web apps
Mobile web apps are not really applications, rather they are websites that run through the device’s web browser and have the look and feel of an app. They are typically coded in HTML5, CSS or Javascript. Mobile web apps have limited access to the native features and information of the device such as geolocation, media etc. Examples of web-based apps include Pinterest and Forbes.

Hybrid apps
Hybrid apps are a mix of native and mobile web apps. They are supported across multiple mobile platforms. Hybrid apps are typically written on HTML5, CSS or Javascript just like mobile web apps. They operate inside a native container and they access the device’s hardware features by rendering HTML, Javascript and native APIs through the device’s browser engine. Examples of hybrid apps include Twitter and Uber.

How to scope out a successful app?

There are multiple elements that contribute to the success of an app; from design to performance. Let’s discuss in detail the features that make an app great.

All great apps start with a great idea. The success stories of great apps combine unique concepts with exceptional functionality and execution. With the oversupply of applications today, to be a standout you need an app that is well designed and well built to meet consumer needs. The starting point of any app development is the conceptualisation of an idea followed by thorough market research. You need to know what exactly users are looking for and tap into that. Great apps always add value to consumers’ life. It needs to address and solve consumer needs through efficient technological solutions. 

Target audience
To create a successful app you need to have a comprehensive understanding of your target audience as well as evaluate your competitors. Studying consumer trends, competitor analysis, conducting surveys, making questionnaires, and building an MVP version of the app, all help to narrow down the demographic of the target audience and test the business potential and profitability of your app idea.

The success of an app depends greatly on its design. A simple but intuitive UI/UX design will deliver higher customer satisfaction. Consumers want apps that have an easy user interface with simple navigation. They tend to stick with these because they are so convenient and easy to use. When it comes to functionality, it’s best to keep it simple. For an app to be successful, it needs to be task-oriented and highly efficient while being user friendly, easy to navigate and visually stunning. Even the most minute details matter. So a polished and responsive design would help differentiate your app from the competitors. 

Core features
It is crucial to focus on core features and functionality. An abundance of features is usually not a great approach as it dilutes the main purpose of the app. Always prioritise the main idea that drives you to create an app in the first place. Additional features, integrations, and personalisation in the early stages of app development complicates the process and detracts from the value of the app. The aim of developers should be to deliver the core feature of the app to the user efficiently and flawlessly. And then introduce additional features in the form of new updated versions. This shows dedication from your end that you are willing to continue improving the app as time progresses.

The right technology
Whether you decide to create a native, hybrid or mobile web-based app, it’s important to think about accessibility to your target audience. Android apps and iOS apps are the two most popular platforms; you need to consider your business need for delivering an app that successfully works across both. Perhaps you want to develop an app on a platform that is more commonly used by your target audience (iOS or Android), or perhaps you see the value in developing an app for both iOS and Android at the time of app launch. Ensure that you talk through all options available with the firm building your app. They must offer the technology which is right for you (not just what is easiest for them).

High performance
The performance of an app can make or break its success. The poor performance of app results in negative user experience, lower brand recognition and fewer downloads inherently leading to lower revenues. Two-thirds of all mobile users get rid of apps they don’t use on a monthly basis, and studies show that 80% of users dump poor performing apps after 3 uses. To make sure your app is not one of them, your focus should be on maintaining a high performance consistently without any bugs or glitches. Any reputable app building firm will offer you monthly retainer services once your app is live to ensure it continues to perform. At Alkye we provide maintenance services for clients’ to sustain the high performance of their apps.

Developers need to ensure mobile apps are safe and do not pose any security risk. Our mobile devices contain crucial and private data like banking details, access keys, payment details etc. To gain the confidence of the users, app developers need to prioritise security. Keeping user information safe and secure is the best way to gain and retain customers. Some basic methods to secure data are-

Write a secure code
Encrypt all data
Use authorised APIs
Use multiple-factor authentication steps like static passwords and OTP (one-time-password)
Implement tamper detection technologies 
Use token validation for user sessions
Deploy HTTPS to secure communication
Repetitive testing to ensure the app is free from vulnerabilities.
Undertake a monthly retainer service with the firm that build your app once your app is live to ensure it continues to perform. At Alkye we can continue to manage this for our clients.

Testing and deployment
Once an app is conceptualised, designed and developed, the next is testing of the app on real users before its launch. Testing helps you to understand how users actually use the app. Integrate analytical tools like Google Analytics, Localytics, Firebase etc to monitor and get insight into target audience behaviour. It is essential to conduct a beta-test to understand customer needs, eliminate bugs and test the functionality of all the features across all the platforms. Studying the metrics collected through beta-testing can help you develop a successful app which is equipped with the most intuitive user interface.

A human-centric approach to app development such as personalisation helps to create a better user experience and drive customer engagement and conversions. 80% of app users expect a certain level of personalisation from the apps they use. This personalisation can be based on users’ preference, location and usage data and it can propel the app’s popularity and make it a success.

Ongoing engagement
To build and maintain user engagement it is important to plan for different channels of communication. Techniques like push notifications and in-app messaging can help you to remain connected with the target audience and remind them about products and services at the most optimal time. As mentioned earlier, customers expect businesses to cater to their preferences with highly relevant and essential content. Delivering personalised and relevant messages can drive better engagement and make your app successful. Leverage available analytical tools to gain insight into customer behaviour and learn about their interest to foster a long term relationship. At Alkye we offer monthly our clients a CRM and Marketing Automation service. We measure our client’s interaction with customers through customer history & retention analysis, sales leads, marketing & pipelines tracking to deliver data to enhance customer interactions.

Regular updates
For apps to continue to be relevant it is crucial to update it with new features and improvements. Innovation is essential to remain competitive in a crowded marketplace. Apps need to constantly update their technologies and fix bugs to ensure better customer retention. Google and Apple update their operating systems annually so the apps that run on these OS need to change/upgrade to work coherently within the framework. The initiative to upgrade features on apps builds user trust and ensures brand loyalty.

Feedback channels
All great apps have an in-built communication system that provides customer support and collects feedback through rating and review systems. Proper communication channels are very important to stay connected with their customers, reduce negative user experience and increase user retention. Customer feedback can help you create a better product and fix bugs and errors swiftly while minimising negative feedback.


Building a great app requires a brilliant idea, insight, excellent usability and incredible performance. However, it is not an easy task. All aspects of app development like design, technology, marketing and customer service need to work in cohesion to create a world-class product. An app that understands the market and consumer solves user problems effectively, has good performance and intuitive user interface would definitely perform well. But it’s the dedication to constantly learn and adapt to changing trends and technology would translate into greater success for the app and ensure that your users stay with you instead of choosing a competitor. At Alkye, we help clients to create user-friendly, visually appealing, and interactive apps to grow their business.

AppsHybrid AppsMobile AppsNative AppsUIUX
Nicola Bond

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Nicola Bond

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