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Study: App Usability Trumps Brand Name

Wed, 11/10/2010 - 7:13am
Monica Alleven

Just because you have a great brand doesn't mean you have a great app. Just ask those who participated in a recent study by Harris Interactive.

The study found that the majority of mobile phone users who download and use applications choose to download those apps based on recommendations and good user experience (UX), rather than on the brand name company or organization that released it.

The study was conducted online in October and was commissioned by EffectiveUI, which, perhaps not so oddly enough, helps brands develop and build better apps.

The "ah hah" moment of the survey results was the finding that 38 percent of mobile application users agree that they are not satisfied with most of the apps currently available from their favorite brand name companies/organizations, says Rebecca Flavin, CEO of Denver-based EffectiveUI.

The survey results revealed that 76 percent of mobile application users agree that all brand name companies and organizations should have mobile apps to make shopping or interacting with them easier. Sixty-nine percent agree that if a brand name mobile app is not useful, helpful or easy to use, it results in a negative perception about the brand.

The study found that 32 percent of respondents have told others about a bad experience with a mobile app, and 13 percent have avoided downloading applications from a brand name company or organization due to a previous bad experience with another app offered by that brand.

Flavin says the results of the survey are further proof that organizations must invest more in the user experience of their mobile apps rather than rely solely on the brand. "Instead of helping their brand, it's hurting them," she says. "The good news is this can be avoided."

So what should brands do when developing a mobile app? Flavin says companies need to conduct adequate research on their customers to find out how they engage via mobile and what they're interested in from a practical standpoint. Too often, she says, companies still try to port the same features from their website over to mobile.

Flavin explains some of the elements of UX: usable, useful and enjoyable. She also says that being first to market is not always the best strategy, nor is being "best," whereby companies try to put everything into an app. It's really about "right to market," she says.

About 90 percent of EffectiveUI's work is for iPhone and Android. Clients include National Geographic, Discovery Channel, GE Health and American Greetings.

The survey was conducted online within the United States from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 among 2,250 adults ages 18 and older and Oct. 5-7 among 2,098 adults ages 18 and older, for a combined total of 4,348 adults ages 18 and older.

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