Roundup: Top 10 mobile app user complaints

Ugh! Don’t you just hate it when apps ___________________.

It probably took you about a second to fill in the blank. We all have mobile app pet peeves. Unfortunately, when users decide to trash an app, they don’t just let it go. Everything starts innocently enough with uninstalls. Next, users tell their friends—in person, on the phone, via social networks—about how much the app sucks. Finally, they leave harsh reviews and ratings in the app stores, and your reputation takes a serious hit. It’s enough to drive less determined developers to throw in the towel.

Don’t fall victim to user complaints. Know what frustrates them most, and do what you can to avoid the following pitfalls.

1–4. Poor performance

We hate to state the obvious, but users want their apps to work. It’s really not a lot to ask. Unfortunately, developers tend to get so caught up in their builds, they forget about pesky steps like quality assurance (QA) and testing outside of production environments before launch.

Top user complaints leading to bad app reviews (Apigee)
Source: Apigee

Last year Apigee commissioned a survey to identify why users uninstall apps and leave bad reviews. A nearly unanimous 98% of respondents said app performance makes a difference. The top four user complaints: freezes, crashes, slow responses and high battery usage.

A cloud mobile backend like Kii Cloud does its part to ensure stability and reliability as you scale. But it’s up to developers to test their apps, fix known bugs and improve their user experiences. App takes longer than 5 seconds to load? Speed it up. Frequent crashes? You’re finding a lot of new bugs? Release a fix pronto.

Hint: Info about latency issues, where crashes are happening and what leads to them are available in your analytics.

5. Ad overload

“Too many ads” rounds out the top five complaints in the Apigee survey. Ads are a popular method of monetization, especially for free apps, but you need to use them judiciously. Constant disruptions won’t win you any friends (or clicks). Ads well integrated into the user experience are far more effective.

Have a big ad right when the app opens? You’re taking users out of your app experience before they get to it. Oftentimes they’re aiming for the tiny [x] to close the screen and end up waiting for a browser window to open. Not good.

6. Push[y] notifications

Push notifications are proven to drive engagement, but they need to be relevant and timely. A new game tournament’s starting? Great. A coupon for discount popcorn at the movie theater? Awesome! That bar I wanted to check out is just down the block? Thanks for the reminder! Uncle Jimmy bought a new car last week? Whoop dee doo. I saw the photos on Facebook and don’t have time to read old news.

7. Begging for ratings

Asking users to rate your app comes with the territory. When you prompt them to do it, and how often, involves planning and tact. A pop-up every time they open your app is overkill. You also don’t want to prompt someone to rate your app when they uninstall. They probably didn’t like it. A few best practices:

  • Ask users to rate your app the first time they use it and after any major release. If they ask you not to prompt them again, don’t.
  • Respect your users. Avoid interrupting them while they’re in the middle of doing something.
  • Try using ad space instead of a pop-up and see if you get a higher response rate.

8. Irritating music

Shutting off the sound is always an option, but an obnoxious tune can turn off users first.

9. Bad updates

A new release should be your latest and greatest. Certain users will always pine for their old app experience. However, you’ll make the majority happy if you’re iterating based on analytical insights into user behavior rather than guesswork.

10. Paying for free stuff

Users may get their hackles up if you typically offer a free service, but charge for it in your app. For instance, say you offer a completely free service on your website, but only the first three sessions are free in your mobile app. Some people will rate the app on its merits alone while others will call you out for unfair pricing.

Did your biggest gripe make our list? If not, what’s the one thing that irritates you most about mobile apps (as a user, not a developer)? Feel free to vent in the comments.

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