A person looking at mobile

What makes a good mobile app?

A good mobile app combines great design with functionality, and business needs with long-term objectives—improving business processes and building better customer relationships.

Characteristics of a good app

People are using mobile apps more than ever before—and app competition remains at an all-time high. But with over 2.5 million apps available today, how do you create an app that really stands out? And what makes an app successful?

A successful mobile app should provide an excellent user experience and help you reach your business goals. It should also be easy to use and give some added value to the user that they wouldn’t get from a standard website, plus bring data together to help you improve customer experiences.

When done well, there are many benefits to building a mobile app as a complement to your business. A good app can help your organisation:

  • Collect and manage customer insights.
  • Streamline business processes.
  • Automate administrative tasks.
  • Improve marketing content.
  • Boosts sales and revenue.

You know your business better than anyone, so building your own app can help you create custom solutions, reduce development costs, and work more efficiently. But before you dive in and learn how to make an app, it’s important to first understand some of the must-have app features that make them successful. Five common features of a great app include:

  1. Well-designed user interface (UI)
  2. Fast loading time
  3. Strong data protection
  4. Excellent user support
  5. Built-in integrations

1. Well-designed UI

Mobile apps have a high churn rate, so delivering a great first impression is crucial to keep users engaged. This first impression typically starts with an intuitive and engaging UI—a key characteristic to keep in mind as you create an app.

A well-designed UI applies to both the look and feel of the app as well as the actual functionality. Even if an app provides a lot of value to the user, if it’s not intuitive, you’ll lose users quickly because they won’t invest the time into learning the interface. And if it’s not visually appealing, users won’t stay engaged, making it more difficult to drive organisation-wide adoption.

Most people are using apps on a mobile device, so the UI should be optimised for a small touchscreen. This means removing any of the non-essential app features so that the design doesn’t look too busy or cluttered, as well as ensuring design consistency across platforms and phone sizes.

Design consistency is also needed across typography, buttons, icons, and other branding components. This provides a more unified experience as users navigate the app, plus aids in readability. The structure of an app should be consistent as well, with the most important content giving more weight visually—helping with information hierarchy, facilitating user flow, and improving the user experience.

2. Fast loading time

A fast and responsive loading time is a key characteristic of what makes a good app, and leads to better user experiences, higher user retention, and more conversions.

A good mobile app should take no more than five seconds to load—and ideally just two seconds. Users expect stability, reliability, and speed with their apps, and those that take too long to load or that frequently crash will simply be uninstalled. Some common reasons apps run slowly include:

  • An overloaded server
  • Too much data
  • Outdated software versions
  • Bulky source code
  • Unoptimized encrypted connections

To build a mobile app that’s fast and responsive, consider enabling browser caching, using a good content delivery network (CDN), and compressing data (like images, videos, graphics, and audio content). It’s also important to have regular app updates and continuously monitor performance for errors and bugs. This helps keep apps up to date with operating systems, preventing crashes, sluggishness, glitches, and other app efficiency issues.

3. Strong data protection

Security is an app feature that shouldn’t be looked at as a benefit—it’s a necessity. One security breach means sensitive data such as users’ names, ages, home addresses, and even banking information can be exposed to attackers, putting customers and your business information at risk. A security breach can also cost a business thousands of pounds in clean-up and recovery, plus extensive financial damage due to lost customers and a tarnished brand reputation.

With this type of information and data at stake, security must be a top priority as you think about how to make an app. When you’re ready to start the app development process, consider implementing some security best practices such as:

  • Designing secure code that’s easy to update and patch.
  • Using code hardening and code signing.
  • Encrypting all data.
  • Using only authorised APIs.
  • Assigning token validation with different session expiration times.
  • Requiring multi-factor authentication.
  • Investing in threat modelling and penetration testing for app vulnerabilities.

Strong data protection doesn’t end after the app is built though—security is an ongoing process. Because new threats are always emerging, regular security testing is needed to help find loopholes and analyse potential gaps in your data protection. Addressing these issues before they become a bigger problem ensures sensitive information stays secure, plus increases brand trust and customer loyalty.

4. Excellent user support

If you want to build a mobile app that employees are likely to use, it’s important that your app has the right level of user support.

One way to provide this is through an in-app communication tool, such as a direct chat feature. This makes it easy for users to provide feedback, ask questions, and resolve problems easily. Using AI-driven chatbots can be a good alternative if you don’t have a dedicated customer service line, as they will provide a more personalised customer experience. Self-help options like a FAQ section are also useful and can help users quickly find solutions to common issues.

What makes a good app also has a lot to do with general navigation and accessibility. Including app features in the UI like a search bar, hover tooltips, shortcuts, and navigation tabs help make the app more user-friendly—and will make it easier to drive adoption across the organisation.

5. Built-in integrations

When you create an app, it’s important that you’re able to link all your data and connect it across some of the other platforms you use in your business. That’s why great mobile apps have built-in integrations—a key component to what makes an app successful.

Connectivity features help sync information needed for better customer insights. Since everything is centralised, it also reduces the risk of errors in data duplication. When data is aligned, it helps teams—from sales and service to marketing—collaborate more effectively and break down information silos. This speeds up decision making, improves transparency across your organisation, and helps teams work more efficiently.

Other connectivity features, like in-app messaging or customer service integration, can speed up the feedback flow, improve communication across your organisation, and help teams resolve business problems faster.

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Frequently asked questions

What are 5 characteristics that make a good app?

In mobile app development, there’s not a one-size-fits all approach that will make an app successful. However, there are some key characteristics to think about that should make your app more user-friendly and functional, including having a well-designed UI, fast loading time, strong data protection, excellent user support, and built-in integrations.

What makes an app good or bad?

The quality of the user experience typically separates the good apps from the bad. A good app should be user-friendly, responsive, consistent, secure, and add unique value to the user. A bad app, on the other hand, may be sluggish and glitchy, have a confusing UI, look cluttered and busy, or simply may not satisfy a business need.

What should every app have?

Your app or business goals will likely influence the development process of your app, so the features you need will come down to your app’s primary purpose and your target audience. At minimum, every mobile app should have an intuitive user interface, consistent branding, data privacy, a search or navigation system, and analytics.

What do users want from an app?

Users want an app that provides meaningful value to them, whether that’s by solving a problem, increasing productivity, or simply presenting data in a more organised way. Users also want an app that’s easy to use and provides a seamless customer experience.

What makes an app attractive?

An attractive app should have brand consistency, an intuitive UI, and clear, organised content. This means applying consistent colours and design standards across your platform, eliminating features that don’t add value to the app, and presenting content with information hierarchy in mind.