How to Escape the Graveyard of Forgotten Applications
How to Escape the Graveyard of Forgotten Applications
Use the full range of capabilities in a mobile device to engage users, like unique UX design and the phone's GPS and other sensors.
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The following was contributed to DZone by Alex Hertel, CEO and co-founder of Xperiel.
Pokemon Go reached its heyday a week after its launch last July with a record-breaking 28.5 million unique daily users in the U.S., according to a comScore report. Mobs with mobile phones in hand scoured cities, boardwalks, hiking trails, and other points of interest in search of elusive animated creatures. There were even frenzies around our office to see who could catch them all. The excitement of using your mobile device in a seemingly new way mixed with the nostalgia of a beloved cartoon had people hooked. To this day, game makers at Niantic have managed to sustain a strong following of five million daily users.
The game’s success made me think: what separates Pokemon Go and longstanding mobile gaming juggernauts like Candy Crush from other once-popular applications such as FourSquare, Draw Something, and Angry Birds? What keeps the former from falling into what I like to call The Graveyard of Forgotten Applications, and could there be a recipe for succeeding in the mobile market that the latter failed to realize?
I started to take a closer look at where these forgotten applications went wrong, why they failed to continuously engage users, and the source of their demise. Based on my findings and experience building and deploying several successful mobile applications, I’ve compiled a list of advice for application developers to heed if they would like to escape this fate.
Unleash All the Capabilities Mobile Has to Offer
Pokemon Go excelled in using not one, but several mobile sensors to impress users. The phone’s GPS, gyroscope, accelerometer and camera work in harmony to create arguably the most immersive mobile gaming experience in history. It went where no typical point-and-tap game has gone before and was so compelling that it moved people to get out of their seats and explore the world around them.
Most applications fail to do this because they don’t use the full range of capabilities in a mobile device, creating many missed opportunities to keep users engaged. This is a common thread among all applications in The Graveyard. The FourSquare application relied solely on the GPS to deem people Mayor of frequently visited locations and Draw Something or Angry Birds were only experienced through swiping and tapping on a phone’s touchscreen. The key to creating truly immersive experiences is to take advantage of the full power of mobile sensors – mobile devices contain a ton of powerful sensors and hardware, so use them! Once this is achieved, endless possibilities for fresh user experiences are unlocked.
Frequently Refresh With Experiences Users Value
A skill needed in any strong, lasting relationship is being a good listener. In the application world, your audiences talk to you through their data and feedback on message boards like Reddit and GameFAQs. Once you start to see the number of daily users drop or length of average gameplay decrease, it’s time to investigate the root of these trends and see what changes are in high demand. Most likely, users are begging for new experiences or patches, and they have very little patience in this fast-paced world, so updates need to happen quickly!
Candy Crush is the poster child for acting quickly based on user stats and demands. It has mastered the craft of creating game boards that speak to its users’ varying interests in game mechanics and playing styles. In one level you can be tasked to quickly clear all the candies under tight time constraints and the next can be a mind-boggling puzzle of how to release candies from their cages. From an outsider’s perspective, these levels may seem randomly strung together, however, there are deep game analytics at play that track what types of game boards perform best and which levels need to be tweaked or removed to keep users coming back for more. Candy Crush has leveraged customer data to sustain strong user engagement for over five years and goes to show that listening closely and acting quickly is key.
Your App Will Live or Die Based On Its UX, So Make It Good
The quality of a user experience separates good applications from great ones. As more applications are being downloaded than ever before, a user’s expectation for UX excellence is at an all-time high for the apps they choose to keep on their devices. Lag is unacceptable, crashes can mean significant dips in active users, input gestures must be optimized, and on top of all this, applications must look good, too. Our mobile devices are graphical supercomputers capable of displaying stunning, hardware-accelerated 3D graphics rich with lighting and shading effects, so whenever appropriate, use those powers! Bottom line: great UX is table stakes for a successful application.
Pokemon Go did a commendable job of updating characters from the late 90’s to fit a sleek, modern application design, and it was also able to merge the familiar look of the original Gameboy version with Google-like maps to fulfill feelings of nostalgia. Candy Crush is also known for its fun, creative and delicious-looking designs, which are so recognizable that a high-end fashion brand has created an entire line of Candy Crush apparel. And, this is not all just for looks. A recent Forrester study showed that quality UX design can raise conversion rates by 400 percent, which could mean huge gains for a business’ bottom line.
You only have one real shot at impressing audiences with your application, and after the initial success in downloads, you’ll have to work even harder to keep them engaged. Hopefully, the tips above brought some direction and clarity into how to sustain a lasting, meaningful relationship with your user base – and how to not be caught dead in The Graveyard of Forgotten Applications.
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