The Formula to a Successful App

Consumers prefer apps that do one, maybe two things, very well. Clunky apps that try to be your virtual Swiss Army Knife typically fail to do anything exceptional, with each additional feature being another impossible frustration. An app should have one purpose, and be great at it.

iPhone AppsThe app marketplace is more crowded and competitive than ever, making it important to put out high-quality apps that meet a user’s expectation. Apps that try to add multiple bonus features are slow to load and prone to errors. According to a recent study on consumer expectations and experiences of mobile devices, 79 percent of users will abandon an app if it fails to work on the first or second try. In addition, 48 percent said that they are less likely to use an app when they are not satisfied with its performance, and might submit unfavorable reviews.

App-StoreSingle or dual-purpose apps tend to be less complex, with faster load times and fewer opportunities for malfunctions. Paper, Uber, MyTime and Wells Fargo Mobile are examples of four such apps that do their job: making a user’s life easier.

  • Facebook’s new Paper app is a simplified version of Facebook, with the goal of making it easier to consume content. Buttons, menus and other distractions are removed for a clean layout.
  • Uber connects users to private drivers in select cities in 19 countries around the world. With one tap, Uber checks a user’s location using their device’s GPS and dispatches a driver to pick them up. Uber even tracks driver location to see how far away they are and contacts them if needed.
  • MyTime compares a user’s calendar on a mobile device with that of the business where an appointment is desired, and the user chooses the best option. According to MyTime, most of its appointments are booked after business hours. From barber shops to tennis lessons, the app provides one valuable service for both local businesses and consumers.
  • The Wells Fargo Mobile app foregoes the bells and whistles to concentrate on fast load times at 128 bit SSL encryption. The app has a simple, clean display so users clearly see the fine details related to an account.

Google-PlayPaper, Uber, MyTime and Well Fargo Mobile fit the mold of the modern app: light and efficient, quick to load and respond, but powerful and useful. When apps do something well and do it quickly, it fits into the lifestyle of today’s consumer. The formula is easy: a simple function or service + clean, easy to navigate design = a successful app that users will keep coming back to.

About Ben T. Smith, IV

Founder of, investor in and advisor to technology and media companies
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