Home Technology 4 Ways Mobile Apps Draw Us In

4 Ways Mobile Apps Draw Us In

Recent estimates have the number of apps in the Apple store over two million, and the number in the Android store close to three million.

mobile app users | Nside Magazine

If you look up the number of apps available as of 2018, you’ll find some fairly staggering numbers. Recent estimates have the number of apps in the Apple store over two million, and the number in the Android store close to three million. This might not be surprising given the rate at which new apps have been coming out in the last several years – but it’s still fairly incredible. It also introduces the interesting question of how a given app is supposed to rise to the top with so much competition. 

There are potentially innumerable answers to this question. Any one developer or marketing team can always come up with something new to draw mobile consumers’ eyes. Broadly speaking though, these are some of the ways popular apps manage to draw us in. 

1. Clear Calls To Action 

With so many apps available in stores, it’s very easy to brush past even some of the best and most useful simply because they don’t clearly state their purposes. This is an area in which we “judge books by their covers,” choosing pretty app icons before ones that are less visually interesting. However, we also like to know what we’re looking at beyond a simple category. In other words, an app needs to not only title itself, but make it clear what kind of service it’s providing. 

An interesting article aimed at people designing their own apps defined this as a clear call to action. It discussed the idea of being straightforward in messaging and sticking to large, bright buttons to direct people through the download process. The example shown just below this tip is for the investing app Acorns; it’s a clean, attractive screen showing what the app looks like on a phone with the big message “Automatically Invest Spare Change” over a bright green button that says “Start Investing Now.” The app doesn’t just say “Acorns” and expect people to know what to do or why – it lays out a clear purpose and call to action. 

2. Beautiful Graphics 

As we just mentioned, we do tend to judge books by their covers, so to speak, when it comes to apps. Basically, if you see two apps in the same category and one of them has an attractive icon and a beautiful interface, you’re liable to give it a shot, even if a less attractive alternative might ultimately function better. This is something designers should be aware of by this point, frankly, but it’s also something to keep in mind when you’re downloading apps. A pretty visual appearance is nice, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a better app – it’s just a means of drawing you in. 

3. “Freemium” Models

This is one of the most frequently discussed app models, and it’s one that’s proven to work very well. Popular games from Marvel: Contest Of Champions to Plants vs. Zombies 2 have taken advantage of the model, offering a free app download that encourages users to believe they don’t need to pay to enjoy content. And usually, they don’t. However, the “freemium” model tends to have a catch: there are in-game incentives to pay more in order to get more out of the experience, or to get a leg up on the competition. It’s not just typical mobile games that are using a model like this however. 

The model may well have originated, to some degree at last, in online casino gaming. There, the idea of “free spins” has long been used to draw players in. These are basically real money slot reel spins at no cost to the player spinning. It’s a smaller concept, but the idea is the same: enjoy this for free, and we’ll bet you’ll want more! It’s really also an adaptation of a subscription or insider model. For instance, consider journalistic publications. Sports fans can download The Athletic for free but have to subscribe for most content; people who read the news can download The Washington Post app but need a subscription to get past a certain number of free articles each month. Basically any setup that makes an initial download or early content free can make an app more appealing, even if there are payment incentives down the road. 

4. Limited Focus

A blog post entitled “What Makes A Great App?” made a few interesting points, but the one that stuck out most was that a great app does one thing well. It used Uber as an example. Now, Uber isn’t just an app, in that it involves real world activity as well. But because it emerged and became useful as a mobile tool, we can think of it as one of the more successful apps possibly of all time. It started purely as a means to get a ride quickly and easily, and did extraordinarily well with this service. This then allowed it to expand to include other services, and Uber became one of the biggest up-and-coming tech companies. That’s a dream journey for a mobile start-up of course, but it speaks to another way apps can appeal to us and stand out in such a competitive space. If they do one thing particularly well, we tend to hear about them. 


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