5 Mobile App Features To Avoid

by Alexandra Uren . April 28, 2017

We’ve spoken time and time again about the various hoops that must be jumped through when it comes to mobile app development. From working out your target market, nailing your social media campaigns and effectively optimising your product for the App or Play stores, app development is not for the faint hearted.

You might remember a recent post of ours on how to retain users and increase app engagement once your app has gone live on the App Store. While there’s a number of ‘dos’ when it comes to mobile app development, there’s also a lot of ‘don’ts’! Post-launch is a tricky time and there are various holes that are easy to fall down in your quest to start making money from your app and pay back the cost of development.

However, we cannot stress enough that shortcuts very rarely work! The most effective way to increase downloads (aside from having a half-decent app) is to be honest and transparent in your policies and not resort to tricks or unnecessary features. Here’s the top 5 features we think you should avoid like the plague when it comes to developing and launching a mobile app…

Broadcasting To Social Media Without Permission

It’s every user’s worst nightmare. They complete a run, reach a certain level on a game or make a new purchase and 10 seconds later, all their Facebook friends know about it. Yes, you could probably add a sneaky extra into your Terms and Conditions saying that the app can broadcast to social media accounts, and yes, it may get the name of your app onto Facebook and intrigue potential users. But is it really worth sacrificing user loyalty for this? Why not let your users post their results themselves because they actually love the app – instead of forcing them into something they haven’t agreed to? We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, if your app actually provides value and your marketing strategies are solid, there is really no need to resort to sneaky tactics, the app will sell itself.

Confusing Language

Attempting to fool users with confusing privacy policies, newsletter signups or special offers may get you more signups, but it’s not going to do your brand any favours when it comes to building trust. We all know the kind – ‘Please do not tick this box if you do not wish to receive special offers’. Yes, we can just about work out what it means when we apply a bit of brainpower, but who wants to do that while reading the terms and conditions? It’s frustrating to try to work it out, but even more frustrating is receiving an email newsletter you’re convinced you didn’t sign up for.

T0 build faith in your brand, make your Terms & Conditions clear and concise and your Privacy Policy detailed. Your app development company will be able to help you with this. Don’t attempt to fool your users into ticking or agreeing to anything.

A brand who have come under fire for this is Kate Hudson’s Fabletics. The sportswear brand has upset customers thanks to their confusing website and ‘first time only’ VIP prices – often less than half the normal price. What they don’t tell you, or they do but in teeny tiny print at the bottom of the screen, is that purchasing a workout outfit at their ‘VIP’ price automatically signs you up as a VIP member, allowing the company to take £42 from your account every month to use as credits on their site. As if this wasn’t frustrating enough, their customer service is truly diabolical. Don’t lower yourself to shady tactics. Be transparent, honest and clear about what signing up entails. And for those of you wondering, yes, I did get caught out by Fabletics and no, I am still not over it.

Unnecessary Or Untimely Alerts

A well-timed notification or alert can increase engagement, build trust and teach users how to use a new feature on your app. A badly-timed notification can result in a user deleting your product altogether. This is why it is essential that you put some serious thought into this section of the app.

Consider the timing of your notifications and alerts. It’s unlikely users want to hear about new features at 9am on a Monday morning when they have just arrived at work. One way to avoid pestering your users at inappropriate times is to let your users decide when they will be notified. Language learning apps such as DuoLingo are great for this, giving users a subtle nudge if they haven’t completed a level in a couple of days.

Another way is to simply keep on top of your analytics. Find out where users are interacting, where they are uninstalling and where they are spending the most amount of time on the app. Use this data to time your notifications and alerts without spamming the user. Remember, knowledge is power, but with great power comes great respo…OK we’ll stop.

Making It Hard Not To Click Ads

Most users will be able to spot a sneaky ad tactic a mile off, and that’s why brands cannot afford to make any mistakes when it comes to adverts. Already a touchy subject in the mobile app development industry, ads can be a great way to monetize your app, but they must be handled with care.

Pop-up ads are annoying, they always have been and they always will be. However, making your close button hidden, disguised as something else or difficult to click on (e.g. really small) is truly unforgivable. Clicking on an in-app advert while attempting to close it and having your web browser or App Store launched is up there with cracked phone screens, Southern Rail delays and running out of teabags. Don’t let this happen to your user.

While a lot of these features may work in the short term, helping to get your app noticed or increase your ad click-through rate, they are sneaky tricks and will do very little for the reputation of your brand. Forced engagement is not true engagement and for that reason, it is essential that your app provides true value for your users.