Building a mobile app is a beginning, not an end. In order to make sure your users download your app on mobile devices, use it everyday and talk it up to new users, you need to add compelling app features.
But which new features should you add when you build your mobile app? Would it be better to add more social engagement, or increased multimedia? How can you know where to focus your work so you get the most bang for the time you spend?
It’s a tough question to answer. But Andrew Chen, general partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, and the man behind many successful startups including Uber and others, has some great advice on how to decide.
His blog post, “The Next Feature Fallacy: The fallacy that the next new feature will suddenly make people use your product,” offers some very simple, straightforward tips.
The Most Valuable Mobile Features
First, he says, you need to recognize that it’s extremely difficult to retain new users of your app for even 30 days. He says that typically, of all the people who download your app and start its registration process 80% finish onboarding, 40% use it the next day after signup, 20% use it the next week after signup, and only 10% use it after 30 days after signup.
Those are pretty dismal numbers. Your job, as an app developer, is to bend that curve, and get far more people to continue to use the app.
Most of the time, new features don’t accomplish that, he says. Here’s why, in his words:
- “Too few people will use the feature. In particular, that the features target engaged/retained users rather than non-users and new users.
- “Too little impact is made when they do engage. Especially the case when important/key functions are displayed like optional actions outside of the onboarding process.”
To choose a new feature that will really make a difference, he says, you need to understand your user lifecycle.
The Best Features for Mobile Applications
As for which features to add into your mobile app design when you develop mobile apps, he says, “First and foremost is maximizing the reach of your feature, so it impacts the most people. It’s a good rule of thumb that the best features often focus mostly on non-users and casual users, with the reason that there’s simply many more of them.”
He adds, “Similarly, it’s important to have deep insights on what users need to do to become activated, so that their first visit is set up properly.”
He concludes, “When a product is still early, when you’re searching for and building game-changing features, the resources those features eat through can be massive. The risk that your company takes in building them might be too high, and your team might overestimate the probability that a feature will meet your expected growth goals for it. There is always a chance that the next feature will bend the curve, but it requires being smart, shrewd, and informed.”
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