Nobody likes clutter.
Whether it’s a dirty car, a messy house, or a smartphone bogged down with useless apps, people don’t like keeping things that don’t serve a purpose.
Our space, time, and attention are limited, which means the more value an app provides, and quickly, the more likely it is to get used. But what can apps do to get out of smartphone purgatory and find a spot among the regular rotation?
Sometimes setup is necessary to provide the best value and create a secure, personalized user experience. Onboarding comes in many forms, including logins, permissions, location or notification requests, etc., but users may give up if the process takes too long or has too many steps.
If they abandon a transaction, they could ditch the app without seeing its value.
Cutting Through the Noise
The average smartphone user has about 40 apps but uses less than half.
Although younger people (ages 21-30) tend to be heavy app users, with about 67 apps on their phones, they only use 25. Nearly two-thirds of apps they invested the time into installing gather electronic dust.
App use changes with age, right? RIGHT?!
You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. Smartphone users between 51-60 years old only have about 20 apps installed but use less than 10. Unfortunately, although the number of apps in play decreases as age increases, it just means apps have fewer opportunities to get downloaded.
Why People Abandon Mobile Apps
So, why is there such a love/hate relationship between apps and users?
An astounding 25% of people stop using an app after only one use, and nearly 4-out-of-5 people will abandon a transaction if they have to install an app to do it.
There are many reasons why an app might not work out, but most revolve around usability:
The app is too hard to use. You shouldn’t need a Ph.D. to make a transaction using your phone. When apps are too hard to use, people abandon them for something more intuitive.
Too buggy. You wouldn’t put much faith in an investing app that constantly crashes, shows incorrect information, or freezes during a transfer. Buggy apps don’t feel safe and raise a huge red flag.
Not enough features. The more features an app has, the more likely a user will stick with it. Just remember - everything in moderation. Too many features can make the app too hard to use and drive people away.
Too unwieldy/large. Big apps often eat precious space on a smartphone, preventing us from saving more important things… like 4,000 photos of our pets.
The initial setup takes too long. Nothing is worse than downloading an app that says it’ll make some small aspect of your life easier and then getting stuck in a 45-step installation process. The longer the setup process is, the more opportunities users have to drop out.
Competition is high. As the old saying goes, “Anything you can do, I can do better.” The same rule applies to app development. There are nearly 2.7 million apps in the Google Play store (37% of them are low quality) and almost 2 million apps in the Apple Store.
For every task that needs doing, there’s almost always more than one tool available.
A Web-Based Appetizer Before the Mobile Entree
birdbill’s web app is the first step to help users understand what the mobile app does before investing time and effort into installing it.
A bad onboarding experience can completely derail a user’s app experience, especially if it doesn’t show people what issues it solves.
When birdbill first launched, you could scan a QR code at your table and be taken to the app in your respective app store. You would have to install the app, log in, and THEN authorize payments to see your receipts and settle your check. Even though the process was straightforward, there were a lot of steps, and it didn’t always explain what you were getting into.
The birdbill web app fixes the issue and streamlines several steps. In some restaurants you now can see your check updated in real-time as you order food and drinks at participating restaurants. It’s giving you a little taste of what you’d get with the mobile app.
Where the app stops short is the payment process. If you want to settle your check through birdbill, you need to click “Pay with App” and go through the setup process. Once everything is set up, the app “remembers” your check and loads it into the app without any other prompts. Just a few taps and BOOM! - you’re ready to pay with birdbill and fly the coop!
Does Offering Value Before the Download Work?
Since launching the birdbill web app, our data suggests more people have downloaded the mobile version. Before launching the web app, about a quarter of patrons that scanned a QR code at a birdbillding settled their check using birdbill. After launching the web app, that percentage grew to more than 40%.
When users can see and understand how the app works, it takes a lot of risk out of the equation. Guests get a snapshot of our service without wasting time, space, and effort signing up for a service they might never use.
And once people see what our app does, they’re usually pretty impressed!
Experience is Everything
User experience is the lifeblood of any mobile app. If the experience isn’t good, people are less willing to support the solution.
Think of app development as meeting someone for a first date; you have to build a little trust with them before moving to the next step. If you immediately jump in with a barrage of questions and information, you might scare them off.
Taking an “appetizer” approach has worked well for us, but we still love getting feedback, whether direct or indirect, from our users to constantly improve. Our users are our customers’ guests, and in a way, that makes them our guests too.
With that thought in our minds, it’s easy for us to deliver the best experience every single time.