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What components does a successful mobile app consist of?

There are several reasons why you might want to create a mobile app. For internal use, as an extension of your website or webshop, to solve a particular problem for people, and so on. Every app is different, of course. Yet there are universal points that every successful app meets. We share 10 of them!


1. A brilliant idea

You can design an app as elegantly as you like – if no one is waiting for your app idea, it will never be a success. The success of an app therefore depends first and foremost on having a good idea. 

A good idea is often a solution to an existing problem, a new service that makes people’s lives easier or more fun, or an improvement to an existing solution or way of working. 

Think, for example, of Uber’s cab app that makes it easier (and cheaper!) to get from A to B or Airbnb that gives a new dimension to lodging and overnight stays.

But an idea doesn’t always have to be big and impactful to be successful. For example, at the time of writing, the apps Babyphone 3G (app that turns 2 iPhones into a baby monitor) and TwitterOMatic (app to identify birds by recording their song) are the best-selling apps in the App Store.


2. Right platform

Within app development, we basically focus on two platforms: iOS (Apple) and Android (Google). Together, these two superpowers own almost the entire market for mobile devices. In the Netherlands, iOS and Android together account for 99.73% of the market.

An app for iOS will not work on an Android device and vice versa. Both are written in a different code language. Creating an app for both platforms at the same time will cost you a lot more development time and can therefore be quite expensive. 

It is therefore advisable to choose the platform where your target group is present. It is also wise to first build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) of your app for one platform and, if successful, continue developing it for the second platform.


3. Appropriate revenue model.

Most apps are not developed out of charity. Usually, you want to recoup your investment and then make a profit on it. To achieve this you will need to integrate a revenue model.

Some options are:

  • Paid app
  • In-app purchases
  • Subscription model
  • Advertisements
  • Selling (anonymous) data


Success is also determined by linking the right revenue model to your app. For example, an app like Spotify (which people use every day and to which new valuable content is added regularly) is easier to link to a subscription model than an app that people only use sporadically.

In addition, a price that is too high (and in many cases even a price at all) is often a reason for many users not to give your app a chance.


4. Modern design

Just as we no longer buy clothes that are completely out of fashion, users also expect apps to move with the times. Design is an important part of this. The decision to give your app a try is often made by the look of your app. Does it look reliable and modern, or old-fashioned and ugly?

App trends follow each other in rapid succession. In the image below you can see on the left what the Uber app looked like in 2012 and on the right in 2020. An app with the old design probably wouldn’t give many users a chance today.


5. Fine UX and UI.

In addition to a modern design, users also expect apps to move with the times in terms of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI). Apps do well to be built based on best practices such as zooming out on a map by placing two fingers on the screen and bringing them closer together.

To make it as easy as possible for users, it is also advisable to make maximum use of current digital capabilities. Think of the fingerprint scanner and face recognition, Apple Pay and dark mode as the most recent developments in this area.


6. Good onboarding

By onboarding, we mean the first time someone uses your app. You might need some information or explain how to use the app. 

This is an important moment, because many users quickly decide whether they are going to use your app or delete it right away. 

Best practices for good onboarding are: 

  • Simple and quick
  • Only ask for data that you really need
  • Ability to log in with existing accounts (such as Facebook and Google)
  • Focus on the benefits of using the app, not the features that the app possesses
  • Multiple steps? Show how many screens/steps are still to come
  • Provide the ability to skip


7. Communication

Once users have installed your app, see its value and decide to keep it, it is important to bring your app to the attention of existing users again at the right time. You can do this by sending push notifications or emails to your users.

To avoid irritating your users and to be of real value, it is important that the notifications are relevant and at the right time. 

Netflix, for example, does this in a smart way by sending an email when they have added a season of a series that a user has been watching.


8. Statistics

Keeping track of data and statistics is also an important part for success. This is how you discover how users assess (parts of) your app. By analyzing this data, you can make adjustments to further improve your app.

Depending on the type of app you have created, some statistics will be more important to you than others. General statistics to keep track of include:

  • Number of downloads
  • Number of active users
  • Average usage time
  • Retention
  • Churn
  • App Store reviews
  • Average revenue per user
  • Cost per acquisition


But technical data is also important. Think about crashes, error messages and speed of the app. By keeping an eye on these statistics, you are always aware of the health of your app and you can intervene when necessary.


9. Update regularly

Not every app needs to be updated regularly, of course. If your running or weather app works perfectly, there is no reason to keep adding new features or content to it. 

For many apps, however, this is not the case. Think for example of webshops, news, audio, video or other content apps. The success of these types of apps is largely determined by (the frequency and quality of) new content. 

Show through notifications (inside or outside the app) that new content has been added.

It is important to use a ‘flexible setup’ during app development – create an easy way to keep the app updated.


10. Smart marketing

No matter how good your app is, if no one hears about it, it will never be a success. That’s why you need to promote your app properly! You can do this by making a good presentation in the App Store and by using marketing in the right way.


Curious about an app yourself?

We at Pure App Builder are convinced that every company in every industry can use a mobile app. No matter how big or small your app needs to be, in the digital age it always adds value for your users. If you are looking for an MVP to see if an app works well for you I recommend you contact Pure App Builder. Are you already a bit further in your research and would you like to have a custom app developed? I would like to forward you to our partner Pure Coding.

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