Mobile-first design is here. With mobile browsing recently overtaking desktop entirely, anyone involved in the development or maintenance of a website needs to understand how vital mobile is to a user’s experience. When it comes to designing a mobile site, creating a separate app for mobile users is not enough. A fully functional website is the only truly acceptable way to present a traditional browsing experience. However, apps present a unique opportunity for brands to interact with customers in different ways. Whether this is by offering experiences like voucher codes or discounts, or by aiding brand awareness with a game, businesses only stand to gain from a well-made, standalone app.

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How the world uses apps

There are an estimated 44.9 million smartphone users in the United Kingdom – and an estimated 43.2 million of these used apps on their devices in 2016. According to eMarketer, audiences spend 81% of their time using apps to browse the internet, as opposed to just 19% using browsers.

Your app has to be good to stand out. Figures reveal most people have just five ‘heavy use’ apps. Competition is tough, with most people not keeping an app for longer than 24 hours. Just 29.1% of apps downloaded by Android users and 25.5% by iOS users were retained for at least a day. The majority of UK users have 20 apps or fewer, and only 10% have downloaded 30 or more.

In terms of how people use apps, the main focus is on interaction and engagement.  A survey of smartphone owners revealed the percentage of users who used an app for the following:

  • Weather – 56%
  • Social networking – 55%
  • Navigation – 54%
  • Email – 52%
  • Gaming – 47%
  • Online banking – 40%
  • Reading news – 33%
  • Streaming music – 32%
  • Streaming video – 26%
  • Online shopping – 22%

Of these different app types, Facebook is the most popular followed by YouTube. If the figures above are to be believed, this means there are just three spaces left in someone’s ‘heavy use’ app selection for your own app to stand out.

Paid vs Unpaid

Only one in ten apps on are paid for, according to UK figures gathered back in 2013. Many businesses issue free apps, as a charge could put people off downloading. There’s also the theory that people’s expectations are ‘anchored’ – so they psychologically expect to pay little for apps. If you do charge for an app, make sure it’s cheap unless it reflects an unmissable service – or people won’t download it.

How a business should use apps

As we stated earlier, an app isn’t a sufficient way to replace a mobile website. However, bespoke apps give a user a new insight into your brand. Whether this is a price calculator for a utility company, a Pokémon Go-style treasure hunt for a charity brand or a voucher/discount app for your eCommerce business, apps allow you to interact in a new way. Push notifications, for example, let you message your user directly.

Your app should complement the service you offer. By offering your audience an alternative route to interacting with your business, you’ll widen your appeal to a larger potential audience. You’ll also be able to strengthen your offering to your existing audience by giving them exciting options – whether it’s a game or a further level of interaction.

For example, Pampers offer the ‘Pampers Club’ app, which offers rewards to users who buy their products. This app both encourages sales and rewards users — a key part of the marketing process.

Ultimately, apps are a unique opportunity to offer new ways for audiences to interact with your business. Part of the huge popularity of mobile devices but separate to your main website, apps are an unmissable opportunity for businesses who want to build brand loyalty, find new fans and ultimately, increase sales.

 

Do you want to know more about app design or development? Speak to Mediaworks today to see how we could help.

 

Craig Boyle

Author:

Craig Boyle

Data Journalist

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