What are mobile users looking at on their phones? Not most of the apps they downloaded, Luke Wroblewski says. Luke, the author of some great design books, pulled together some statistics in a recent blog post about mobile user data.
Loyalitics reported that a quarter of app users used a downloaded app only one time. The most used app categories, as found by Nielsen are:
- Games (64% of app users used an app in this category in the last 30 days)
- Weather (60%)
- Social Networking (56%)
- Maps/Navigation/Search (51%)
- Music (44%)
Use drops off precipitously from there. Think about it—what do you use every day aside from Twitter, your preferred weather app and Words With Friends? MG Siegler at TechCrunch wondered if we’re hitting an app wall:
There’s so much exuberance in the app space right now because mobile platforms are exploding with growth. And so anytime one type of app remotely hits, a hundred similar apps pop-up. And they all seem to think they’re in the right position at the right time to hit too. … Facebook wasn’t the first social network, but they knew they would be the best social network. Of course, Facebook is the exception, not the rule. And I believe that many of the apps we see these days don’t actually think they’re the best. They’re just hoping someone else thinks that. But they won’t.
This all reminds me of Christopher Butler’s piece making a case against mobile apps, in which he said “apps are not an ideal format for wide and un-monetized content distribution.” Rather than building an app for every little thing, he says, we should create seamless experiences for users, no matter what device or operating system they’re using, by creating responsive websites.
I think it behooves everybody who has a great idea to ask themselves a lot of questions:
- Does this need to be an app?
- Is it better as a website?
- Is it better as a Tumblr?
- Why should a user download your app?
- What functionality can you get with an app you can’t get with a mobile-friendly website?
- Are you sure that putting your content in an app isn’t just creating a burdensome step for anyone who wants to access it?
- Are you really sure?
How do we fix the app-crazy web culture? The Next Web has a great piece on what makes good app ideas great. GigaOM predicts the rise of niche app stores to aid findability in a very crowded market. Cameron Moll offers advice for designing the mobile web here.