December 9, 2016
Apps are like strangers we let into our lives. Looking at app uninstalls through that lens gives us as designers, developers, and makers of apps more insight on why users tend to uninstall apps.
Think of your app like a person, is your app friendly? Is he/she very consuming in terms of what they ask of you and how much of your space they ask for? Is the app engaging and interesting like a new friend? Or is he/she annoying asking you for tons of information about you before offering you anything of value?
First, it’s important to remember that uninstalls aren’t always a bad thing. Maybe your app isn’t giving the user exactly what they want and they disengage with your app by uninstalling it. Some apps also just happen to serve a specific purpose – it could be an app that is designed for pregnant mothers, of course, the user is going to uninstall the app after the baby is born and make space for the thousands of newborn baby pictures. This is a scenario that is acceptable. It just means you have to reach the right audience through the right platforms to increase app retention and usage. There are enough ways of getting analytics and understanding that analytics to figure out how you can market your app better, but we won’t go there. We’ll just look at the very specific scenario – You have an app that has reached the right people and yet you are facing uninstalls. What could some of those reasons be?
What happens when you let a stranger app into your life? First, it’s important that you ease into the relationship. First, offer something of value before you take from the user. What do I mean by taking? I mean things like – asking the user to buy more features on your app, asking the user to pay for basic functionality that they thought they would get for free when they installed the app, asking for a lot of personal information- email addresses, personal addresses, phone numbers etc. At this stage, it’s important to hold back and give before you receive. Having a good sense of what makes up a fantastic user experience when the app is initially installed is crucial. The numbers support the argument – most apps are installed within the first few days. The Onboarding experience has to suit the service your providing with the app – just ask for as much information you need to start serving the user – you don’t need the users’ home address if you’re a gaming app.
This is pretty basic too, but think of an app like a snap guide, yes YouTube videos do the same thing, but the app makes it far more interesting for you to learn a new skill or even teach others a new skill. It’s important that your app isn’t just offering what its designed to offer, but also does it in a way that is better than the other mediums out there that offer similar content. But even interesting content is secondary, first, you have to ensure that whatever your app is designed to do – whether it’s a game or an app that takes notes it does really well. Customers know all too quickly when something is awesome – take Uber for example – it looks great and does the job without frills. We all want that close friend who tells us things as it is without sugar coating it always being straight about it.
Is your app collecting unnecessary data, asking me to send out ratings (when I have on multiple occasions declined to do so), asking me to fill out long forms I have no interest in? This is a big reason why apps are uninstalled. Make sure your app has a friendly personality. Another thing that app designers often get wrong is sending too many unnecessary notifications. A notification on your phone should be reserved for only those actions that the user really needs to know about. The last thing I want to know that I can get 10 cents off a $100 product when I’m in the middle of other important things in my life.
If your app is a big fella occupying all the space on your couch that you’ve saved for all your friends, you will tolerate it only if you really like him. It’s not very different with apps, you can have a bulky app if your users love it, but to have a bulky app that not very useful is a disaster, he’s like to get kicked out first. And then there is the case of all kinds of strange behavior – buggy behavior, freezing, crashing, eating up all the food in your house (read draining the battery on your phone)…make sure you do some basic housekeeping as far as your app goes.
This is the worst sort of behavior that users almost never tolerate. It is important to be ethical while dealing with the information you collect from your users. The slightest whiff of something unusual and you will lose your customer. Security and privacy are of the highest importance when it comes to developing and using apps. The smallest suspicion of something wrong the user will first uninstall your app and probably never look back.
We have all had experiences with that over a friendly guest who heads over to your kitchen and helps themselves to all the food in the fridge, watches TV on your couch and refuses to leave in spite of the hundreds of hints you have already thrown their way. Your app has to be light and behave like the guest they are on your phone. More so because they aren’t a real person, they’re going to get kicked out far sooner than the weird guest. Apps that use up too much data, space, data, slow down your phone by eating up your RAM are all bad for the user.
In essence, be respectful of the user – they have invited you into their house, allow you access to their personal information, all because they believe you may have something to offer them. Don’t be a buggy app, do what you say you will do really well and be honest and upfront about what you will charge the user for what features. But most important of all, be worthy of the trust they place in you and make sure your app is secure and doesn’t give the user the impression that you’re going to go out there and bring a thief in with you the next time you’re in their home. Apply the same rules you would to yourself to the app world you want to inhabit and you’re bound to succeed.