With the total number of mobile applications downloaded set to exceed 21 billion in 2016, and with global market revenue reaching $32.6 billion, there will be many new players vying for a share of both downloads and revenue. To successfully compete in this market, it will be critical for application store providers to have an app store that is useful and usable, as well as providing compelling features.
In order to understand how to create a superior application store user experience, our Wireless Media Lab has recently undertaken user experience evaluations of a number of leading application stores in the US and UK. The stores evaluated by current Smartphone owners were Android Market, Apple App Store, BlackBerry App World, GetJar, Nokia Ovi Store (UK only) and Windows MarketPlace.
Drawing upon these user experience evaluations (as well as previous application store best practices), we have identified 21 best practice guidelines across the application store process which contribute to a superior user experience. These can be broken down into five main categories, with a selection of best practices highlight:
App Store Structure & Layout
- The homepage of application stores should be clear and simple, and provide direct access to the core sections of a store which should be: categories, search, top lists and users downloads/updates.
- Core sections of the store should always be accessible within one click.
App Discovery & Search
- The search feature should be accessible in one-click no matter where a user is within the store.
App Description & Overview
- Each app should have a detailed description, including price, ratings, reviews and screenshots. The app overview should be no longer than one page.
Price & Purchasing
- The price of an application should be clear at all steps in the purchase process - not just when a user chooses the app from a list or search.
- Users like to have an option to preview or trial an app before purchasing it.
- Users want the ability to re-download apps they have purchased if they change their phone.
The full set of guidelines are available within the report Mobile Application Stores: Best Practices and User Evaluations, along with in-depth analysis of each application store. (Available to Strategy Analytics' WML clients or for purchase).
- Paul Brown