Why Mobile Apps Fail: a Comprehensive View of the Problem

There are dozens of successful apps, but there are thousands that failed to succeed. What can you do to reduce the risk of failure for your app? According to a research by Perfecto Mobile, the most frequently reported issues with mobile applications are UX issues, performance, functionality, device compatibility, missing functionality, OS compatibility and security. We tried to take a broad look at the issues of mobile app failure and address some of them from points of view of developers, BAs, users and marketers, so you would know where to pay closer attention.

Developer’s Point of View

Device compatibility

Find an app in an app store. Scroll down to one-star reviews. What do they say most often? “Doesn’t work on my Samsung S8!” or “Doesn’t support my Lenovo tablet.” Okay, we may be exaggerating here, but the issue of device compatibility is actually a nightmare for developers and a pain for users. With hundreds of Android devices, a dozen generations of Apple gadgets, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Tizen, etc., it’s not surprising that apps may fail to work correctly on a particular device. Still, the plethora of gadgets, platforms and browsers is not an excuse for a faulty app, and the issue is relatively easy to solve by recruiting a professional app testing team.

Solution: A Skilled team of testers with an extensive arsenal of real-life and cloud-based devices.

Developing Technology

The dynamics and pace of the mobile industry make it hard for developers to stay up-to-date and requires programmers to take up new technology that may be somewhat raw and not ready for creating solutions. For example, “innovative” startups also like to use a technology just as “innovative” and “cutting-edge” for their apps. As a result, the solution takes longer to develop, contains more bugs, has problems supporting different devices and disappoints the users.

Solution: If you want good results fast, use a reliable and proven technology and find a team of experienced developers to create your app.

Improper Testing

This goes without saying: you should find bugs before users do. Unfortunately, app reviews abound in descriptions of bugs, lags and crashes user experienced when interacting with an app. This can be a result of many factors: inadequate device compatibility testing, product requirements that were changing or unclear, no time or budget for proper testing, etc. To improve the quality of your mobile app, you should run unit and integration tests in the process of development, functional and performance tests at later stages of development and monitor crashes, analytics and user reviews after the release. Investing in a comprehensive testing strategy will always pay off with positive reviews.

Solution: Never skip testing and put as much effort into the quality control of your app as you put into development. Don’t let your users become your testers – recruit an experienced team of QA engineers specializing in mobile apps instead.

User’s Point of View

Poor User Experience

If an application has weak UX, it will be the first thing users will notice. It will also be the last thing since they will quickly delete an app they don’t like. When designing a mobile application, make sure that users can easily access its core functionality and solve their problem using as little taps as possible. Also, be aware that different operating systems require different UI approaches, so creating a single UI for all platforms and ignoring platform-specific features and elements is a bad idea. Lousy UI/UX is more than just an unattractive app, it’s also slow performance, long time to load, difficult registration processes, too many features, bad navigation, lacking key functions that were supposed to be in the app but can only be accessed through the website instead (yes, Facebook app, we’re looking at you!) As you can see, poor user experience is a broad term, but know this: if it’s easier for a user to visit your website to solve a problem than to open your app, you’re screwed.

Solution: Your app may not be the best-looking one on the market, but at least make it intuitive.

Failing to Solve a Problem

Users won’t be using your app if it doesn’t do what they need it to do. For example, when users want to shop and download an app by a furniture store only to realize that it’s just a catalog with no purchasing functionality. It’s even more frustrating when an app does offer a solution but the implementation is poor and awkward. This often happens when the development team doesn’t consult business analysts and the app doesn’t undergo beta-testing.

Solution: Research the problems your users may be facing or let a business analyst do it. Also, try to make an easy and intuitive app and show it to a group of beta-testers before the release.

Too Simple or Too Complicated

It’s all about the balance. Some businesses tend to overcomplicate their apps (especially corporate ones) by packing them up with unnecessary features that may not even be related to the core functions. It’s also an issue when stakeholders want a mobile application to duplicate their website’s entire functionality. But that’s not how mobile apps work. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have apps that offer a single function – nothing more, nothing less. Like a cinema app that only lets you book or buy tickets but still makes you print them out instead of downloading tickets directly to your device.

Solution: Try to make the app solve one problem at a time and maybe several supporting issues that correlate with it for best user experience.

Marketer’s Point of View

Bad or No Marketing

Your app is great. You know that. Your team knows that. Even your mom knows that. But that’s not enough – you have to let the whole world know how great and useful it is. Or at least a couple thousand people of your target audience. Wise promotion and engagement are key to making users want to download your app and therefore making money out of it. There are many useful approaches you can form into a single marketing strategy: optimizing your app for app stores, maintaining an active web and social media presence, paying for advertising, contacting media and influencers to promote your app, monitoring and reacting to user reviews, reaching organic growth through quality content your users will want to share with their friends and many more.

Solution: It’s highly important to market your mobile app and engage your audience on all stages of launching and after the release. Consider the channels you’ll use to reach your target audience and settle on the budget you are willing to spend on marketing.

Bad Timing or Trend

It was super progressive to try and create apps for Google Glass some three years ago, but where’s that technology now? Augmented reality apps are kind of trendy but the timing is still not right since few users actually use a VR headset. Thousands of similar apps sprouted after the success of Candy Crush. Can you name at least one of them? The point is, if you catch the wave right, it can carry you to success, but if you’re too quick or too slow, it can crush you.

Solution: Before you wrap your awesome idea into an application, just stop to analyze the trends.

Poorly Researched Market and Audience

You don’t go to war unprepared if you want to win. Just like you don’t just throw your app into the market and expect it to succeed. Market research and audience analysis are as important as the development itself. Before you start designing and creating your awesome app, ask yourself this: is there a market for your app? Does the market even require a solution like that? Is the competition fierce? Is your app unique? What about your monetization strategy? And always have your target audience on your mind: does the app meet their needs? Does it make their lives easier or solve their problem? What devices or operating systems they use? Not taking all of that into account when developing your app may be just a waste of an awesome idea.

Solution: Take the time to carry out an extensive market and audience research.

There is no magic pill for success, but there are dozens of reasons why your mobile app may fail: poor idea, terrible code, bad design, no marketing, lousy monetization strategy or reasons that have nothing to do with any of the above like the team doesn’t get along. But we know you will do everything you can to avoid them and make your mobile app stand out.


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About Skelia

Skelia is an international leader in building cross-border IT and engineering organizations and affiliate companies in Eastern-Europe. For over a decade, we have provided staff augmentation services to a diverse range of clients—from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. We operate in Luxembourg, the UK, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Poland, and the US.

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