What Do Popular Apps Have in Common?

The biggest apps don’t often start from scratch. There are conventions they keep in mind when trying to design a smash hit. So what exactly do these apps get right, and how can app developers and designers get on the fast track to a blockbuster app?

1. The Tech Stack

When first launching an app, it’s important to consider which platform you’ll launch on first. Many apps start off with either iOS or Android first and add more as they prove successful in the market. After all, you’ll need more developer resources if you want to design for multiple platforms . So testing the waters first is a good idea. You can find out which platform to focus on first by simply asking potential customers which they use during your initial research phase. If they are giving you information about their pain points and interests in a potential solution and you create a solution on the platform of their choice, they will be much more likely to be pilot customers once your app is ready to try out.

As apps grow more and more successful, expanding to desktop and mobile web are logical next steps. The idea is to meet your customers where they are. If you gather data over time that shows your customers would engage further if you added additional touchpoints, then it’s a good call to give new platforms a try.

As your target users if they use Android or iOS to inform which platform you launch first.

2. Function Leads Form

3. Strong UX/UI Design

One especially important aspect of UX and UI design in popular apps is their onboarding flow. This is the opportunity not just to pave the way for a smooth mobile experience, but it can even be a way to show some personality. When a user first downloads an app, it has to be intuitive. If they can’t figure out how to sign up and start using it, they are going to abandon it. So be sure that your onboarding flow is as simple as possible to keep users from jumping ship before you get a chance to wow them with the amazing features that are waiting for them on the other side of signup.

4. A Reason to Return

Some apps don’t need to incentivize daily logins because they already have strong pulls. For example, even if a popular app is in a utility category, the usefulness of the app will keep users coming back. Being able to check transactions and pay your credit card bill on time each month might not be the most exciting reason to keep logging in, but it is necessary and will keep customers coming back.

Users should never have to enter their credit card information more than once.

5. Ease of Payment

Another element to consider is whether you will charge for your app or not. Many apps offer free trials over a short period and do their best to entice the user to pay to continue access after the trial. Apps like Calm effectively show the full spectrum of their offerings over the course of seven days in hopes that customers will value it enough to pay full price on the 8th day.

Yet other apps try a freemium model and offer a “lite” version of their app for free without strings. However, users will run into only available features if they choose to upgrade to a paid plan. The most popular apps handle this in a delicate way so that it doesn’t feel like an intense sales pitch but instead is a natural flow from free to paid customer when the benefits are presented logically. (Learn about other app monetization strategies here.)

6. Transparency

7. Data Protection

Your users’ safety is number one.

The unfortunate truth is that the potential harm for an app that is gaining popularity but suffers a data breach early is likely far greater than an incumbent in the market. So it’s essential to get data and privacy processes right from the beginning, not curtail growth when you need it most.

8. Focus

It can be easy to try out a ton of new features to stay current, but this can muddy the app’s reason for being. While trying a new concept out or keeping up with competitors, It is wise to specialize and not overdo it with extraneous features. Otherwise, this can lead to wasted effort (LinkedIn Stories, anyone?)

Would be great if we find examples of apps that did one of those things great so as to give our readers some food for thought.

What elements do you think are essential to popular apps? Let us know by tweeting us @Protoio.

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Originally published at https://blog.proto.io on October 13, 2021.

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