It’s time for part 3 in the series. Belonging is the third level on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Belonging is about love, friendship, family and sexual intimacy. So, it’s about feeling all warm and fuzzy. So I ask myself, “How can a mobile app do all that?”
Let’s think about what friends and family have in common. Generally, it means we know one another on levels that no one else does. We are social beings that share our thoughts, our emotions and our experiences. Mobile apps can get to know us too, and great apps do.
At some level, websites have been doing this for years. Web sites remember our preferences, our interests, and even our last pizza order. Sites like Facebook and Twitter allow us to share everything: thoughts, pictures and video. This is nothing new. And best yet, Facebook and Twitter provide mobile apps to share.
Understand that not all users are the same
A large part of delivering an outstanding user experience is knowing your user intimately. What does your typical user look like? Get to know their age, gender, culture, how they use technology, etc. Navigational features such as button size, taps versus swipes, and graphics will differ from a 3-year-old versus a 45-year-old. No matter how excellent you think your app is, not everyone will want it. Focus on the ones who use your app and design the experience for them.
All too often I have come across business apps made for employees that lack a polished interface. The product managers seem to think their fellow employees don’t deserve a good user experience, but employees are people too. With the rise of the app within the consumer space, expectations have increase exponentially. The benchmark for any app, whether it’s an internal app or consumer-facing app, has been set high and to gain corporate-wide acceptance and usage, this must be addressed.
If you’re building a business app, you need to get a clear view of the different roles of the people using the app to determine the needed functionality. This should go without saying in the consumer space. If your app doesn’t deliver the functionality required by the audience, you will lose out in the war against your competitors.
Talk to the actual users of the app. Find out their needs, their preferences. Develop a mockup and put them in front of your audience. Get their feedback and adjust accordingly. The app stores are filled with apps that are never used, never downloaded because the ideas were never put in front of actual users.
You’ve built your app. Now how to you get to know your users? The key is to track everything. Unless you have thousands or millions of people standing over your users’ shoulder you cannot know what they are doing or what they are experiencing without tracking move.
Analytics is not the answer to everything. It is simply the path to the answer. Data is everywhere if you know how to use it and how to get it. Organizations have access to loads of data at a fraction of the cost. Collection is just the first step. It must be evaluated, interpreted, dots connected that turn it into meaningful information that lead to actionable insight. Otherwise it’s not worth collecting in the first place.
Collecting analytics is not a singular process. With each new iteration of the app, you must collect the data again. Be consistent with the way you measure the analytics. Without a solid baseline, you cannot accurately survey the results. Gathering analytics from mobile apps and mobile web sites are very different. These differences are made evident when focusing on navigation and usage patterns. Clicks and taps versus gestures and behavior.
Below are some examples of metrics to track. They are certainly not the only metrics.
- How many users? How many new?
- Where is the app used?
- What hardware/software are they using?
- Does any segment stand out?
- When are my app users most active?
- Which features are the most used?
- Are users finding the features they need?
- Is the new version of my app used longer than the previous one?
- Reviews: positive versus negative
- Are users sharing my app with their peers?
- When is my app being installed the most? Why?
- Do we have bottlenecks and timeouts?
- Which users are impacted most by quality issues?
- Should I fix the problem now or wait for the next version?
- Should I focus on improving the features used most?
- Are there features nobody uses?
We’ve established that friends and family know parts of us that no one else knows, and that we can do that inside mobile apps too. Another thing that friends and families do is share. They share stories, experiences, tribulations, achievements, hugs, support and much more. Successful apps allow their users to share.
Apps can do this in several different ways. The easiest and most often used method is connecting and posting to social media. Most apps allow for some sort of social media posting. Some apps pre-build messages that the users are forced into. Other apps suggest messages that can be altered by the user. A few apps allow the users to post whatever message they want about the app. The last mentioned social media posting avenue can obviously lead to anarchy within the game. However, it’s a great way to get to know your users better using text analytics. It provides an insight you otherwise wouldn’t be able to easily access.
Several games have forums and message boards online. This adds a level of interaction to the game that provides a sense of sharing. To bring this into the game, apps like Game of War allow users to post messages and interact within a kingdom, the user’s own clan or build/belong to several private chat groups. It’s easy to see friendships build and connections made inside the app that keeps users coming back. It’s not the game that keeps the users coming back anymore. It’s the connection to the people that the app provides. World of Warcraft and other online and set-top box games have discovered this and took it a step further with voice chat. The ability to share on a personal level, rather than shotgun it to your friends via social media, is a very powerful draw bringing back your users again and again.
Belonging is a very powerful need that isn’t fully understood or utilized in most mobile apps. It’s a great way to get ahead of your competition, increase the user base and the half-life of the app. Get to know your users, whether they are internal or external and personalize their experience. Belonging can, and should, be applied to both consumer and employee-facing apps. Make it possible for your users to easily share information and status via social media or through internal means. Reward your users for sharing externally. Build in ways to for users to attract their network of friends and colleagues. Keep it engaging and allow them to share screenshots, special personalized videos, and special invitations to friends.
Make the need to Belong work for you. Share what other ways you use or can think of to help your users feel like they belong by commenting below.