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Understanding the Mobile User Experience Will Help you Build a Better App

I have had the opportunity to apply my knowledge about customer loyalty/experience measurement in the area of mobile application development/testing. Today's post is about what makes a 5-star mobile app.

A 5-Star Rating is the Goal

The 5-star rating scale has become the default mobile app criterion in mobile app stores. In a global survey of mobile savvy usersMob4Hire, a mobile market research and testing firm, found that  mobile app users, on average, need to see at least a 4-star rating (out of 5 stars) before they download/purchase mobile applications. The bottom line is that mobile apps with higher star ratings are more likely to be downloaded compared to mobile apps with lower star ratings. Mobile users who give a mobile app a 4-star or 5-star rating are also more likely to 1) continue using the app, 2) recommend the app to their friends, 3) download other apps from the same developer and 4) use other competing apps less than users who give a mobile app a 1-star or 2-star ratings. Maximizing the star ratings of a mobile app needs to be the goal of all mobile app developers.

Mobile App User Experience

Mob4Hire's MobExperience User Experience Dimensions

Building a 4+ Star mobile app begins with an understanding of the user experience.  MobExperience, Mob4Hire's mobile usability testing solution, helps companies asses and improve their customers’ mobile user experience. Mob4Hire employ their proprietary sample of mobile savvy testers (Mobsters) download, install, use and evaluate the mobile app / Web site, providing feedback on 25 attributes across 7 user experience dimensions. These user experience dimensions, based on over 50 years of software product management experience and review of existing testing literature, are: 1) Overall, 2) Stability, 3) Application Launch, 4) User Interface Requirement, 5) Language, 6) Usability and 7) Connectivity. See the table for definitions of each and number of attributes in each.

Getting to a 4+ Star Rating

The MobExperience solution also asks the testers to provide an overall star rating of the mobile app / Web site, the MobStar rating (If <mobile app name> was available for download in an app store, how would you rate it? - 1 Star to 5 Stars). This MobStar rating is used to understand the importance of each user experience area in defining the mobile app's quality. The MobStar rating is correlated with each of the ratings of each user experience area. Stronger correlations indicate higher importance of that user experience dimension in driving star ratings.

Impact of Mobile User Experience Dimensions on Mobile App Rating

Combining data from six (6) MobExperience projects (N = 151), Mob4Hire found that users who have a positive experience with a mobile app are more likely to give it a 4+ star rating compared to users who have a poor experience with a mobile app. While each user experience area impacts the overall rating, some user experience dimensions are more important than others. Analysis revealed that, in general, the top drivers of the overall star rating of an app was primarily driven by the user experience regarding usability and user interface of the mobile app.  In general, mobile apps need to have the following user experiences:

  1. Ability to perform functions on app with precision
  2. App easy to use (e.g., menu system, making changes, inputting data, reading output)
  3. App responds quickly
  4. Becoming proficient quickly
  5. App does not interfere with other apps

This pattern of results is not surprising. Ease of using any application is usually the primary driver of the overall satisfaction with and usage of that application. While these results are typical across many mobile apps, Mob4Hire found different results across different mobile apps. For example, for one of the mobile apps, Stability was the biggest driver of MobStar ratings. For another app, Language was the biggest driver of MobStar ratings. Maximizing the star ratings of each of these mobile apps requires understanding the user experience and identifying what is important to their customers. For these customers, the quality of their app experience was driven primarily by these user experiences:

  1. App has correct grammar and spelling
  2. Ability to simultaneously use phone's other features (camera, bluetooth devices, media player, etc)
  3. App behaves same way each time it is opened
  4. App does not consume battery excessively

Summary

The mobile app user experience has a significant impact on the overall star ratings of mobile apps. While companies need to develop mobile apps that are easy to use, they also need to ensure they understand all aspects of the user experience (e.g., stability, language, connectivity) because each has an impact on the overall evaluation of the mobile app. MobExperience is a useful business intelligence solution that helps companies understand if their mobile application is delivering a positive user experience and, if not, shows them how to improve that experience to increase user loyalty and drive business growth.

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