As mobile app development has rapidly progressed over the last 10 years, one of the key things we've learned (often the hard way) is that a successful app must have a specific function.
That's why we decided to focus on two apps:
- SmartSpending™, for our end users (i.e. the employee), and
- Connect+ app, for our end users (i.e. the employee).
Sometimes we get a request to build a SmartHub® app, or an app that has all the employee's benefits products and information in one place. However, mobile app best practice strongly advises against this kind of 'all-in-one' approach.
What does a successful mobile app look like?
For a mobile app, success is when the app stays on the user's phone and doesn't get deleted at the first sign of reaching maximum storage limits, and gets frequent use.
One of the biggest problems app developers often encounter when they first start out is that they try and duplicate a website in mobile form, and this often means the app is trying to do several different things for its user.
The Facebook Messenger example
When Facebook first created its app, it included the Messenger function, enabling users to send direct - and later, instant - messages to their Facebook friends, as well as using the Newsfeed function to post their updates.
In 2011, Facebook announced that they were going to split the chat functionality from the app and create a separate, stand-alone Messenger app.
They’ve since completely disabled the chat function on the Facebook mobile app, so that Messenger is the only option.It’s now one of the most popular apps in the app store.
In a Q&A session with Mark Zuckerberg back in 2014, he explained the reasoning behind this decision:
"On mobile, each app can only focus on doing one thing well, we think. The primary purpose of the Facebook app is News Feed. Messaging was a behavior people were doing more and more. 10 billion messages are sent per day, but in order to get to it [in the Facebook app] you had to wait for the app to load and go to a separate tab [...] If we wanted to focus on serving this well, we had to build a dedicated and focused experience [...] Because Messenger is faster and more focused, if you're using it, you respond to messages faster, we've found."
The Facebook mobile development team felt that, by having both key features rolled into one app, neither could be used very well.
Having a clear purpose, like solving a problem or making a task more simple or convenient, is really key to making the app a success.
As a result, we decided not to include multiple products into one app, and instead have focused on pushing our shopping discounts product forward and push the boundaries in an increasingly mobile-driven retail landscape.