Mobile apps are a growing trend these days with 22% of the population across the world owning smartphones and 6% owning tablets. According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 56% of American adults own a smartphone. Many businesses now offer loyal followers apps in place of their website to provide convenient and quick access to their information.
However, some apps end up never being worth even the download due to usability issues. If these usability problems are too rampant with the initial release, then the app may never have a chance to improve due to bad reviews. An app developer has the responsibility of making sure that an app provides enough benefits to be worth an individual downloading, keeping on their phone, and (even better) using on a consistent basis. And one important way to meet these important goals is by being aware of and avoiding the issues that are the cause of common mobile app complaints.
Below are some of the most common complaints that users voice when reviewing mobile apps. Before you begin your next mobile app project, make sure that you use this checklist so that your app doesn’t become one of the obsolete ones that downloaders never use.
Too Many Notifications
Nothing is more frustrating than wading through spam mail after most people spend a majority of their days just working through the important emails. And spam mail is what many app notification emails become. Facebook did it right and allows for some very intense customization of notifications; selecting just to receive notifications for friend requests, for instance. You can even choose between texts, emails, and push notifications. And, of course, always give the option to completely turn off notifications. For many apps, there is simply no point in having notifications, especially since the release of iOS 7 and automatic updates.
While not kosher, it is much more understandable for a website to have buttons that are difficult to reach, especially if it is not a mobile-friendly design. However, apps are created specifically for easier use on a smartphone. So if buttons are so small that users can’t easily click on them, they probably will end up eventually deleting the app. The same applies for buttons spaced too close together or that don’t respond immediately to touch.
Keep in mind that an app has to load first before an animated intro can even begin to play. This is why it is so important to keep your intro memorable yet short, as in only 1-3 seconds long. You also don’t want users staring at nothing while waiting for the app to load either, though. To answer this problem, Ryan Matzner in a Mashable article suggests starting the app with a still image that transitions into very short introductory animation once the app loads. This keeps the intro interesting yet avoids annoying users with a long wait-time.
As briefly mentioned already, users do not like to have to wait. An app should make accessing information much quicker than using the website on a mobile device. So, if anything on your app takes too long to download, it’s a sure sign that your app is destined for deletion. Make sure that everything from the initial loading of the app to any buttons clicked on in the app loads quickly. You don’t want to keep users waiting for more than a few seconds.
Not Enough White Space
Remember, an app is for small screens. The more content you try to fit onto the screen, the less usable the app will be. If you find yourself trying to add too much to a single page in the app, you may want to go back to the drawing board and rethink your layout. As mentioned above, you need plenty of space around buttons so that users can easily tap the button they intend to without accidentally tapping on the button next to it. But you also need white space around text, images, graphics, and any other element in an app design. A small screen is hard enough on the eyes. Don’t make it harder on users by overwhelming them with too much clutter, which also ends up hiding the most important information you need them to see.
Poorly Focused Content
While white space is certainly important, it will never make up for a lack of focus. Make sure that in your attempt to create an uncluttered white space you don’t leave out important content. You may simply need to re-organize. Use bullet points rather than long paragraphs and break up content with boxes or lines. You may need more than one navigation menu. And don’t forget to utilize your color scheme and fonts wisely to break up content and emphasize important sections.
Overly Annoying Ads
Free apps make money off of ads, so completely removing ads is not an option. You can give users a paid version option that removes all ads. However, make sure that you are not intentionally using ads to push your users into purchasing the paid version. If your ads are too annoying, users may simply delete your app because they are too frustrated to want to pay for the ad-free version. Frustrating ads include videos that play with sound even when the user’s phone sound is on silent, ads that have too small of an X to exit back to the app, and ads that pop up too often.
Too Many Requests
When an app asks over and over for a review or rating, but every single time the user clicks on the No Thanks button, you could eventually end up annoying your users enough for them to quit using the app. There is a reason these rating requests include an Ask Me Later button. Other requests that could prove detrimental to your app’s popularity is requesting Facebook connectivity, asking for you to advertise the app to your Facebook friends, and requesting a rating before deletion of your app.
Not every app is perfect at release. Sometimes it takes simply releasing an app before you can see where improvements need to be made. And operating systems are continuously rolling out updates as well. If you want your app to stay at the top of the popularity list, then one of the best ways to do this is to keep improving with updates.
Test for Usability!
One excellent way to avoid including any of the above mentioned issues is through usability testing. With any app, testing is an important part of working out any navigation or other bugs that you or your team may have missed. Just be sure that when testing to find testers who are familiar with their device. Don’t forget to test on both wireless as well as the cellular networks to make sure your app runs well on either connection.
What are some complaints you have heard from users or annoyances you yourself have experienced with mobile apps? Feel free to share your advice in the comments below!