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Creating Mobile Apps Your Customers Will Love March 17, 2016

Creating Mobile Apps Your Customers Will Love

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Conor Sheehan

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One of the major trends in technology over the last seven years or so has been the rise of mobile. Enterprises have poured tons of money and effort into the space; in fact a recent Forrester study found that 88% of companies have at least one app out there, and 38% of them have more than 20 apps.1 With their potential ability to increase conversions 2, raise brand loyalty, and help employees be more productive 3, why not jump in the waters?

But, while companies have demonstrated an ability to get a mobile app out the door, few teams are seeing the success in mobile that they expect. In 2015, 25% of apps are only used once in the half-year after they’ve been downloaded 4, and many apps never see their way to home screens at all. There’s a growing divide between the successful apps and the forgotten ones and this costs companies time, money and brand equity.

In plain terms, people have been spoiled with mobile apps. Thanks to top-grade B2C products like Instagram, Slack, and Uber, people tend to put a premium on design and user experience. It’s been said that design is the new edge for companies, and on mobile, it’s doubly so. It’s driven abandonment higher than ever on subpar mobile apps. It’s not enough to simply exist on mobile; you’ve got to delight your users to keep them coming back.

The Bar has been Raised.

To clear that bar, enterprises have to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Understand what problem you are trying to solve for the users.
  2. Validate design decisions via user research…with actual users, not proxies
  3. Put a premium on performance.
  4. Consider the ecosystem for the app.

The Problem Set

This seems basic but many early generation apps just do too much, or not enough. Research is key here (yes, it’s a theme). Review analytics, support requests and talk directly to your users in your key persona segments. Work from the inside out and keep the focus on that problem set. One approach that we have used successfully is Jobs to be Done (here is a great primer) which can uncover the user’s motivations and the specific jobs they need to hire your app to do.

Design and Research

Your app’s success is contingent on ensuring it works for your main audiences. Our process is research based at its core (there it is again). We start with the creation of a set of hypotheses to design and test against and utilize the Lean UX method (Build - Test - Learn) to iteratively prove or disprove those hypotheses. The emphasis on user involvement throughout the design process reduces risk and increases the chances for success.


Your users will not want to put up with a sluggish app. Experience design gets all the hype these days but a solid technical design is the foundation for success. Many of the same design techniques utilized to keep enterprise software performant are relevant in the mobile domain, at least as it relates to integration with other systems. Achieving good app performance does, however, require experience understanding the capabilities of the devices and how to properly design the technical and UI aspects to best meet your goals.


Mobile is not an island. Many early generation apps lacked sufficient hooks into the larger systems and processes of an organization and consequently were not very useful (or successful). Your company needs an overall engagement strategy of which mobile is just one component. This approach will ensure your processes are properly design to provide the best experience.

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How can Cantina help? We’ve been at this for a while, building native apps for the past 8 years. We understand the platforms, and have built for Android, iOS, and wearables. Our research-based design approach, when combined with our agile development process, leads to tight collaboration between teams to quickly go from prototypes to full production code. Our team has the experience, capability, and passion for building mobile experiences that spark delight in users.

  1. Forrester, The State of Mobile App Development - Forrester March 2015 

  2. Kony Solution, Mobile web is only half of retail mobile commerce 

  3. Digital Strategy Consulting, Apps ‘boost worker productivity 34% 

  4. Statista, Share of mobile apps that have been used only once 2011-2015 


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