illigo : Singapore Mobile App and Web Development Company - Items filtered by date: February 2016

Let’s admit it — we are addicted to our phones. An average mobile user checks their phone150 times a day. It comes as no surprise that we will be ever more addicted to technology in the next 40 years.

Is it merely luck that apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Candy Crush have become deeply ingrained into our daily lives? Not at all.

Through careful research, analysis and experimentation, these companies have cracked the holy grail of hooking users on their app by creating a habit out of its use. This is a technique that most companies have not heard of, much less experimented with.

This is what separates apps that are used every day from the majority that are used exactly once.

How do these apps create a habit anyway?

Nir Eyal, through his research and experience in applying techniques to manipulate and motivate users toward desired behavior, proposes a 4-step cycle for which habit-forming products are created, called the “Hook Model”.

1. Trigger (cue):  A trigger is what makes your brain go into automatic mode and perform an action. This could be external triggers (push notifications, emails, paid advertisements) or internal triggers (loneliness, boredom, fear, discomfort) creating the urge to perform an action.

For example, an external trigger through a Facebook push notification when a friend posts on your wall causes you to perform an action.

2. Action (behavior or routine): A behavior or action is performed in response to the trigger.

For example, opening your Facebook app to read your friend’s post after receiving the trigger in the form of the push notification.

To initiate a given action or Behavior (B), a Trigger (T) is required to activate the behavior, along with the user having sufficient Motivation (M) and Ability (A) to complete the action. This is the Fogg Behavior Model, and is represented in the formula B = MAT.

3. Reward: The reward or benefit of performing the routine tells your brain if this particular loop is worth repeating in future. This can be in form of receiving attention, feeling accepted, feeling important, having a sense of competency, etc. For example, a sense of feeling important upon reading the Facebook post.

B. F. Skinner has found that making rewards unpredictable and random amps up effect of the reward. This is commonly found at casino slot-machines.

4. Investment: Allowing user to put in a small amount of effort, an “investment” while using the product.

This makes the user place a disproportionately higher value on the product, as they partially helped create the product. This is also known as the “IKEA effect”.

These investments are about the anticipation of long-term rewards, not immediate gratification. For example, to reply and start a conversation on the Facebook post. While there is no immediate gratification, the reply makes you anticipate a response, which keeps you coming back for more.

How do you create habit-forming product?

Building habit-forming products is an iterative process. There are three main steps to create a habit-forming product.

1. Recreate the journey of a successful user

The first step of building a habit-forming product is to understand what works. To do this, take a successful user (a paying customer, an evangelist) and retrace their steps to success. Map out all the touch-points from the first interaction up till when they become a successful user.

Then, using the “Hook Model” discussed above, identify weakness in the existing product and evaluate new ideas that are potentially habit-forming. The journey will be tailored toward taking all users in the direction of your successful user.

2. Iterate touch-points that are potentially habit-forming

Charles Duhigg, in his book, suggests a method to alter habit. He suggests that to adopt a new habit or to change an old one, start by identifying the cue (trigger) and the reward of an existing habit and then replace the routine (action) of the old habit with the new.

He also recommends to keep the cue and the reward as similar as possible, because habits are so ingrained in our brains that we are frustrated by any change in the routine, even when it’s for the better. This is very clear from our experiences, with the outcry that happens every time Facebook pushes a redesign, even when it’s for the better.

Here are few things to consider when changing a routine.

Make incremental iterations. Reduce the impact of change by changing only small things at any one time. Use A/B testing tools such as VWO and Optimizely to conduct incremental iterations without coding.

Consider allowing opt-ins to the change, so you do not annoy your existing loyal users.

Use onboarding tools. While the iteration ideally should be intuitive enough that it doesn’t require onboarding, you might still need to guide users along with the new processes. Tools such as Walkme and MyTips are useful to help familiarize users with the new changes.

3. Run both qualitative and quantitative analyses

Analyze the effects of changes using both qualitative and quantitative tools to evaluate if the journey you have iterated is moving users towards the direction of your successful user.

Quantitative tools for data analysis

Use quantitative analytics tools such as Mixpanel and Amplitude to understand which users are along the journey to success.

Through data analysis with these tools, we are able to form hypotheses on what can be improved and test them out.

Qualitative tools for UX analysis

Use qualitative analysis tools such as UXCam (for mobile) and HotJar (for web) that, through Session Replays, allow you to see how users are using your product and understand where they are struggling.

These tools let you see how users are completing an action in real time, to better help understand whether users are doing a task habitually (or not). This helps in identifying cues and routines that impact the user’s behavior.

Going Beyond

Companies are using habit-forming techniques to build products that “hook users” and make them regularly come back for more. While it’s a space that has recently started to gain traction, the techniques for building habit-forming products are advancing as we speak.

The mobile app market is overcrowded with millions of apps. In order to stand out, your app needs to bring in a combination of exceptional performance and great design.

What first attracts a user to the app is its look and feel. The functionalities and features are important, but come into play only when the design is successful in engaging the user. Moreover, the functions of an app has to be in sync with the design, so that app screens are optimised and can handle the user heavily navigating the app.

We often see app designers make terrible mistakes with the app design. The mistakes may be attributed to their lack of knowledge and experience, or inability to understand the specific need of the app and its target audience. App design mistakes can make or break your app. The first impression of your app means a lot and if the app fails to cast a good first impression, it rarely gets a second chance to prove itself.

Common app design mistakes lethal to your app

Cluttered app design

A mobile app is accessed on a device with a small screen. Stuffing too many things on the app screen may lead to an app being illegible, which would dissuade the users from continuing with the app, especially when there are similar apps in the market.

A minimalistic approach needs to be followed while designing the UI/UX of a mobile app, and only the most vital components should be there in the app design. Distributing these components among different screens of the app is also a good way to decongest the app, and at the same time offering the same functionality to users.

Lack of visual cues

A design may appear very simple to the app designers, as they spent a lot of time building it.

However, for a first time user, the same design may appear vague. If there are no visual cues, the users may get perplexed and abandon the app. To prevent such an occurrence, it is advisable to make the designs intuitive and provide universal cues like conventional symbols and navigation models.

The design principle should be uniform, so that once the users get used to the initial navigation, they can move across the app using the same principle without getting stuck.

Lack of standard icons

At times, in order to be unique, app designers do away with the standard icons that have been designed by acclaimed mobile designers.

As the users might be more familiar with these icons, doing away with them can spell confusion and might lead users to abandon the app. With the plethora of options available, a user might be able to uninstall your app and look for a replacement in a shorter amount of time than it takes to learn to use a complicated app.

App design not in sync with the operating system

Every mobile operating system has a unique design layout that makes it stand out. When a mobile app is in coherence with this design layout, it would appear to be integrated into a part of the platform. The users too, would tend to trust such apps more as it better aligns with the standard of the operating system.

For instance, the latest Android version has a specific design pattern with a set of UI elements themed in a particular manner. Stick closely to that, and you can’t go wrong.

A mediocre first impression

The first impression of the mobile app design largely decides whether the users will continue with the app or abandon it.

If your app is able to cast a gripping first impression, chances of the users going ahead with the app increase manifold. The rate of users abandoning the app on first impression is relatively high, at 20 percent. It is therefore important that your app passes ahead of this stage and offers quality features at later stages to engage the users.

Design inconsistency

There should be a consistency in the design of your app. When a user navigates through the app for the first time, he or she picks up the pattern that can be used to better understand the app. If there is no consistency, the initial learning experience of the users is wasted. This is one of the reasons that fuel the abandonment of the app at a later stage.

The ease with which the users are able to use the app must also be maintained.

Web design influencing the app design

When you design a mobile app, you need to come out of the skin of a web designer as the two are different from many standpoints.

In the case of a mobile app design, the emphasis has to be on making the design legible for mobile users. The buttons should be large enough to ensure that the users are able to click on them without fiddling with other buttons. Only relevant design elements should be used so that the app screen does not appear congested.

Concluding thoughts

These mistakes need to be avoided at all cost if you want your app to be widely accepted by the users. The app should be made as intuitive as possible. App designers should take note of these pointers so as not to repeat them while designing their apps.

Increase in mobile wallet usage

In 2015, we saw the emergence of mobile wallets that have made payments much easier. People who were once wary of sharing their bank information online thought of mobile wallets as a great way to pay for products and services online. In India, many mobile wallets like Mobikwik, Paytm, PayUmoney, Oxigen grew in prominence. Globally,Google Wallet, Apple Passbook, and Paypal have revolutionised the way people shop online.

According to Verifone, mobile wallet users have increased by 4 percent in the US. The primary reason behind this increase is due to the amount of money that the customers are able to save by using these wallets. These wallets tie up with popular ecommerce companies and other service providers to simplify payment processes for the users.

There are the three main benefits of mobile wallets. Firstly, users are able to make hassle-free online payments. Secondly, the mobile wallets benefit from the commission they get from ecommerce sites and thirdly, revenue is generated by ecommerce companies due to increased sales.

Personalised push notifications

Mobile apps are not something that can just be launched and forgotten. In order to increase the chance of app retention by the user, the app must be able to offer a user experience exclusive to the user. For instance, if you book a flight ticket using a mobile app, the app should be able to provide you with the status of the flight or deals on the hotels in the city you are visiting.

Personalised push notifications change the perception users have of the app.

Everyone loves receiving attention, and such notifications that put users in the center of attention have always been well-received. Ecommerce apps can also take advantage of this trend in their own ways. A user can be informed of a drop in price of the product that he or she already has in the cart or has recently searched for.

Deeplinking everywhere

48% of mobile users look for a product or service using a search engine. This is where deeplinking comes into play. Search results should be programmed to take the users directly to the section of the app where the searched product or service is located. If the particular app is not installed on the user’s mobile phone, the user should be taken to the app store.

Deeplinking, however, should not be confined to search engines. It should be everywhere, particularly on social media websites. An ad on social media pages should be deeplinked to the app, so that when the users click on them, they are directed to that product in the app. Deeplinking has reportedly boosted the sale of ecommerce companies by 12-15%.

App-only offers for user acquisition and retention

Businesses are going mobile. 80% of internet users own a smartphone, and mobile apps account for more than 89% of the time a user spends on the mobile phone. These stats clearly show that mobile apps have finally arrived, but a low retention rate becomes a trouble. Surveys suggest that 25% of the apps were used just once in the first 6 months of ownership.

App-only offers have helped brands retain their users on the app. Many users have been driven towards installing apps and retaining them in their mobile phones when they were offered deals that could be used only through these apps.

Increase in purchases through mobile platforms

With an increasing number of smartphone and tablet users, the purchase of goods and services through mobile devices has increased manifold. The add-to-cart conversion rate is the highest for the tablets at 8.58 percent. Tablets are handy and due to their bigger screens, and are the go-to device for online shopping. Another survey suggests that 56 percent of users prefer making purchases from a mobile phone or tablet over desktop or laptops.

In 2016, we are likely to see a greater surge in the number of purchases made through mobile devices. This is due to the availability of cheap internet usage and inexpensive smartphones.

Metrics necessary to calculate app retention rates

“If you can measure it, you can improve it.” There are certain metrics that need to be tracked, calculated, and analysed. App retention rates are one such metric. If surveys are to be trusted, an average app loses almost 77 percent of its users within three days of installation.

Specific data about app retention rates, including the stages leading up to when the users abandoned the app, need to be tracked and calculated. This helps the developers work on problematic areas and create a better user experience.

Responsive email a must

Moving on to the marketing aspect of the app, email is a crucial factor to consider. Opening emails on mobile phones has increased by 180% over the last few years. Emails sent to users for promotional purposes must be responsive so that they render well on smaller screens. Over 22 percent of companies optimise their emails before sending them to prospective customers.

Now that the trends are quite clear, devising a mobile strategy for your business for 2016 will be an interesting task. Having said that, it is also evident that mobile platform is moving very fast and it is impossible to predict everything that might be coming. However, at least, we will be better prepared to take on challenges as they show up.

Whatsapp just hit a billion monthly active users this morning. It’s a big deal for Facebook, because that means it owns the top two messaging apps in the world by user count.

But the news is meaningful in another way. Whatsapp now has as many users as Gmail, the most-used email service ever. In other words, mobile chat is now as popular as, or more popular than, email.

Whatsapp’s fast rise to the top is remarkable considering it started from nothing in 2009. Gmail already had 150 million users then.

The story doesn’t end there. Other chat apps like WeChat and Line are getting staggering user figures, and they’re making tons of money as they suck up more of their users’ time.

Sure, business chat apps like Slack and Flowdock are still in their infancy, but companies are increasingly using them for internal correspondences. Whatsapp is also being used for such a purpose.

While communication between companies is still mostly done through email, chat apps are more than capable of handling that, as Japan’s ChatWork shows.

Email seems destined for relegation to the museum, as text chat is being used for a rising number of things, from customer service to product updates to buying things.

Gmail grew in spite of mobile chat’s rise because it adapted to the rise of smartphones by developing mobile versions of its service.

But its growth is likely to peter out soon. There was only so much the horse carriage could be reinvented before the car took its place.