Understanding Mobile Application Adoption Failure

The failure of so many mobile applications isn’t due to their features, their marketing budget, or their price. There's something much more fundamental at work.

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Image: Sofy x worldvectors, Shutterstock

There are few markets as competitive as the mobile app market. Consumers are more discerning than ever. They are busy, protective of their device’s memory, and skeptical about introducing new applications. There’s a lot of noise out there. Customers want something that serves their needs, performs flawlessly, and keeps them engaged. The bar is high.

It’s not at all surprising that so many mobile applications fail. According to a Gartner study, less than .01% of all consumer mobile applications hit their initial financial goals. Those aren’t great odds. And even if you get the downloads, what about long-term adoption? Well, that’s bleak too. The average mobile user keeps less than 7% of mobile applications past 30 days.

Yet fear not! All hope is not lost. There are millions of apps that see success. And what do they do? It’s less a question about what your application does to attract users than what your application does to turn them away.

Understanding mobile application adoption failure

Here are just some of the reasons mobile applications fail to become adopted.

  • No clear value proposition: So, what’s in it for me? What problem does your application solve and how does it solve that problem better than your competitors? Is the use case too narrow or too broad? In a heavily saturated market, it’s critical to stand out. App developers who can’t easily answer this question are in for a rough start.
  • Battery drain: Some apps take up way more than their fair share of battery life, even when running in background mode. If your application isn’t essential—think your favorite GPS app—users won’t keep it around. No one likes a battery hog. (Read about the negative impact of battery-draining apps and how to fix them here.)
  • Poor user experience: People want simplicity. There’s a reason a lot of apps stick to a similar framework and navigation structure. Thinking outside of the box is good, but confused users aren’t. 
  • Too many notifications: Messaging is a great way to keep your users engaged and coming back—but there’s a limit. Have you ever uninstalled an application because it was too loud? Sure, you can update notification settings on your device, but if you’re not too fond of the app anyways, it’s sometimes easier to just uninstall it.
  • App Performance: App performance and battery life are tied together. Is your app threading processes correctly? Does the application take a long time to load, or—worse—does the device actually “heat up”?
  • Bugs: Glitches, broken links, 404s—taken alone or together, all of these issues can dampen the user experience and are almost a certain way to lose a customer. What’s more, by the time the issue is identified, the affected users likely don’t care enough to try again. Remember: You get one chance at a first impression.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about bugs is that they’re completely avoidable with proper testing. You can avoid many of these issues by developing and executing a solid testing strategy aligned with a good mobile automation testing framework.

What is mobile automation testing?

What if we could replicate how users interact with our mobile application, verify the expected behavior occurs, and receive instant feedback when it doesn’t?

Well, we can: That’s automated mobile testing. By using a real device or an emulator, mobile automation testing lets users record or program real application actions, assert what should or shouldn’t happen, and evaluate a pass or fail. For example, with a click of the Home button, verify Home Screen is now in focus. Dozens, if not hundreds, of these actions are created and automated. 

This replaces many manual testing use cases, as mobile automation testing allows tests to be developed once, and ran whenever. Run tests before deployments, run tests after deployments, and run tests daily.

Mobile app automation testing considerations

If mobile automation testing will be part of your testing strategy, you’d be wise to consider the following points:

  1. Choosing the right tool: Identifying the right tool for your needs will depend on your goals, resources, and other factors like complexity. Do you need to support dozens of mobile applications or just a few? How many development resources can be staffed to support automation testing? If your answer is none, or not that many, then you’re best served by a no-code solution like Sofy.What devices will your mobile app run on? There are multiple device-specific automated testing frameworks. For example, Espresso and Appium are both open-source frameworks, Espresso is based in Java and preferred by Android developers, while Appium can be used for both Android and IOS devices. With Sofy, you can grab a real Android or iOS device, set up a test case, and easily convert to automation, all without knowing how to code.
  2. Device nuances: Android and iOS devices have their nuances. Most of these differences stem from the fact that Android is open-source. Developers can change the operating system to fit their needs. iOS is a closed-source operating system that is proprietary to Apple, leading to consistency over flexibility.
    For example, there are way more devices that run on Android, thus more screen sizes, layouts, and resolutions. This variability increases the likelihood of bugs and other issues. iOS devices, on the other hand, are limited to Apple devices. In addition, because of the variety of Android manufacturers, updates are not readily available across devices, whereas iOS users can install the same update across all devices.
  3. Technical skillset: Unless working with a no-code solution, creating automated tests can be just as technically demanding as creating the features themselves. The size and skill set of your dev and DevOps teams should influence your testing strategy. Would an open-source, code-based solution suit your needs, or would a no-code solution be better? This is an important factor to consider before making any decisions.

Conclusion

The failure of so many mobile applications isn’t due to their features, their marketing budget, or their price. It’s due to neglecting to test thoroughly enough. And the earlier the better: Wise companies shift left.

The reality is that most app developers don’t spend nearly as much time writing, designing, or even thinking about test cases as they do developing features. A solid testing strategy that employs mobile automation testing can prevent bugs, and performance issues, and lead to a smoother app experience.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed above are those of the contributor and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official beliefs or positions of Sofy.

 

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