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User Retention: 5 Mistakes to Avoid with Your App

Getting users to download your app is much different than getting users to use your app. A recent report found that 80-90% of users removed an app from their device after only one use!

This means that it is more important than ever for app developers to make a powerful first impression on a user. Below are 5 things a developer should avoid in order to master the art of the first impression.

1. Registration

It can be tempting to ask a user to register with your app before they use it. This way, you’ll be able to gather information about them which will be used to personalize their experience or to bolster your marketing efforts.

However, reports show that over 50% users will abandon an app if they have to register before exploring its features. If you want to keep some of those users, consider delaying the registration process until

  1. They want to access a specific part of your app reserved for registered customers only or
  2. They open your app for the second time.

Also, if you integrate social media into your login process, allow users the option of registering without integrating their social media profiles. Not everyone wants to share their activities constantly with their social networks.

2. Long Input Forms

We all know that mobile screens are small. Depending on the device, there is really only enough room for 2-4 input fields without the user needing to scroll down.

Additionally, typing on a mobile touch screen can be difficult to do on the move, and it is notoriously difficult to type quickly without any errors or strange auto-corrects.

Requiring a user to enter information into 10 input fields will have a negative impact on any user experience. Focus on the simple, straightforward information: name, email, age, gender, or location.

If you need to collect more information, consider splitting the input form into two or three screens. This will give you more space per screen, meaning the user will have no need to zoom in, and it will almost eliminate the need for the user to scroll down the page.

3. Load Time

This one is a bit of a no-brainer. The longer the load time, the more negative the user experience. This is where testing comes in. Text thoroughly and extensively.

If you are an Android developer, test on all different device types, from flagship phones to mid-level, budget phones. Test your app’s performance on Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sandwich, and KitKat before publishing.

Apple developers have an easier time than Android devs because all apps must support iOS 7, but iOS devs should still test their apps on older iPhone/iPad models to make sure there are no issues.

Keep your app’s file size as small as possible, and limit the amount of processes your app runs in the background. App crashes, app freezes, and slow launch time are consistently listed as three of the top reasons why users uninstall an app.


App design trends over the past year or so have heavily favored simple, cleanly designed apps. Just take a look at the design aesthetic of iOS! Even if you are not partial to the flat design trend, you can still takes steps to simplify.

If you aren’t sure where to start, try stripping your app of everything but the bare essentials. Reduce the number of tabs and screens. Excess fields and pages only add complexity to the user experience.

Ask yourself: does my user really need this feature to interact with my app? Self-editing is important. Still not sure if you app is simple enough? Do a quick test. Can you perform all of the basic, necessary functions in your app with only your thumb?

Consider the Facebook app for Android. Every important action can be performed right from the first screen (the newsfeed). All buttons are at the top of the screen. Two menus are accessible via a left swipe and a right swipe. All basic actions can be performed from one screen, with the option of expanding the number of actionable items via side-swipe menus.

No Over-Tapping:

How many taps of the finger does it take for a user to complete an action in your app? 10? 20? 50? Each swipe, tap, or pinch is an integral part of the user experience. Every possible tap should help the user make some progress in your app. Allow the user to get what they want through very little effort on their part.

This tip is especially important for non-gaming developers. Let’s say that you have a music streaming app and the user wants to listen to a playlist of their favorite artist’s songs. How many times does a user have to tap the screen to reach their favorite artist?

First, they would tap on a search bar. After typing, they would tap to submit their search. Does your app take them right to their artist’s page? Or does it redirect to a search results page where the user must tap again on their artist’s name in order to reach their page? Once they are on the page, is a play button at the top of the screen?

Imagine they visit your app for a second time, looking for the same artist. Is their previous search already saved for them, or do they have to go through the search process again? It may seem trivial, but speed and mobile go hand in hand. Little things like this can significantly improve the user experience.

Do you have any other tips for app developers who want to increase their user retention? Share with us in the comments!

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