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15 Must-Have Features Of A Successful, User-Friendly Mobile App

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The online marketplace never closes. These days, if your business is to succeed at engaging and keeping customers, it’s essential that the public be able to shop with, learn about and interact with your company 24/7. And since more consumers than ever are using their phones as their primary devices, a well-designed mobile app is a must.

Designing an effective mobile app isn’t an easy feat, though. A well-designed app not only enables consumers to complete transactions, gather information and contact your business but also has an easy-to-navigate interface that doesn’t frustrate users and features that assure them their personal information is protected. 

Developing a mobile app that allows users to easily accomplish what they want to do will keep them coming back to the app—and your business—for more. Below, 15 tech industry experts from Forbes Technology Council share must-have features of a successful, user-friendly mobile app.

1. ‘How-To’ Screens

In this day and age, when the user is presented with an endless sea of features, educational or “how-to” screens after the initial download and updates are a definite must-have. Not all users are equally tech-savvy, and it’s best to engage the audience to maximize the use of the newly developed features. – Aurelijus Norkunas, Front IT

2. A User-Friendly, Responsive Interface

A mobile app should have a user-friendly interface and be responsive. Customers want to have a seamless experience and clearly understand what to do with the app, which buttons to click and so on. Since there are 3.8 billion smartphone users worldwide nowadays, the app should be adaptable to different screen sizes. – Alexey Makarov, Qulix Systems

3. Chat Support/Callback Functions

Must-have mobile app features include chat support and callback functions. If I’m in a support function I’m most likely already upset, so having to go do something separately on a different website or wait on hold only makes it worse. Everyone should be looking at support as a customer growth opportunity. – Douglas Barron, Business Enablement, LLC 

4. A Search Option

A search option is a must-have feature that many business apps still lack. No matter how simple your mobile app is, a search option is essential, as people have different tech skills. Make it as easy as possible for them to navigate to what they are searching for and ensure they won’t lose interest in your app. – Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround

5. Battery Preservation

There are so many wonderful apps and concepts out there, but if the battery drain is so significant that the end-user can’t sustain the life of their device, then those features go to the wayside. As a result, solutions must account for battery-preservation techniques and methods that ensure a prolonged experience and sustained battery life for the end-user. – Craig Powell, Motus, LLC

6. An Intuitive UX And Clear Privacy Options

Ideally, every app should include an intuitive user experience and optional, highly apparent privacy notifications. The intuitive UX will enhance the consumers’ perception of your brand identity, and the upfront privacy notifications will show you care about your consumers’ data—ultimately further increasing brand affinity. – Amanda Dorenberg, COMMB

7. A Security-By-Design Approach

Cybersecurity consideration in mobile app development is sorely lacking. To build successful apps, adopt a security-by-design approach. Developers must use shift-left guidelines. This means the entire development lifecycle—from ideation to architecture, execution, testing and release—needs proper security testing. – Kumar Ritesh, CYFIRMA

8. Multifactor Authentication

Recognizing that, now more than ever, a balance is needed between data accessibility and data protection, I would argue any business app that provides access to information should be built with multifactor authentication as a standard for validation and user access. It seems irresponsible and shortsighted to attempt to build on sandy land if security isn’t at the heart of your app development. – Al Kingsley, NetSupport

9. Scalable Text

Scalable text is not only a best practice around accessibility, it also serves all your users by providing more flexibility for everyone to enjoy the experience in their own way. By adhering to the system-level preferences of the user, you bypass the need for options within your app, and much like the default device language and dark-or-light mode, you are meeting the user where they are. – Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

10. Automatic Speech Recognition

Navigating mobile phones requires a hand for holding the phone along with taps and swipes. But for people who can’t easily use their hands due to disability or injury or who have their hands full, a voice-accessible app is becoming important. Using a speech SDK, developers can cost-effectively deploy automatic speech recognition or text-of-speech, providing a frictionless experience for users to interact with the app. – Alexey Aylarov, Voximplant (Zingaya Inc.)

11. Multi-Device Synchronization

Multi-device synchronization is a critical feature. How many times have you started to fill in a form on a mobile app only to discover that it is either too complex to fill in or that you would prefer to do so on a website? Including the capability for real-time synchronization completion across different platforms and devices would be invaluable. – Mark Brown, British Standards Institution (BSI)

12. Targeted Push Notifications

Targeted push notifications are key to driving user retention and reengagement. Coupled with behavioral insights, they enable marketers to implement upselling and cross-selling campaigns, combat cart abandonment and alert shoppers when a product is restocked. Through timely and relevant messaging, these personalized notifications effectively shorten the customer journey and increase conversions. – Christopher Yang, Corporate Travel Management

13. Augmented Reality Integration

Augmented reality integration will be the future of mobile app “must-haves,” as it enables users to have a more engaging and immersive experience. Today, AR is on the threshold of mass implementation. Its capabilities can be integrated into a vast scope of apps, from healthcare upskilling and manufacturing optimization to e-commerce try-ons and AR-enhanced gaming. – Alex Dzyuba, Lucid Reality Labs

14. Data Collection Opt-Out

You should always include the capability for users to opt out of data collection. User privacy and data security are of the utmost importance. While it may not be as sleek or cool-sounding as other cutting-edge features, giving your users more control over their personal information is an easy way to establish trust and transparency, both crucial components of long-term success. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

15. A Feedback System

It is important that your app include some way for users to provide feedback to you. It should be a quick and easy process for them to report bugs, suggest new features or provide criticism. In turn, you should acknowledge their feedback. Listening to end-users will keep your ear to the ground and let you know what your users want and how to respond to their needs. – Praduman Jain, Vibrent Health

16. Data Caching

Make sure your app caches/saves as much data on the device as possible. Of course, It will vary from app to app, but make sure your app is as usable as possible with no internet connection. For example, with an e-commerce app, I find it useful if I can browse and add items to the cart even while in a subway here in NYC. Once I’m outside and connected to the internet, all I need to do is tap the buy button. – Vikram Joshi, pulsd

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