A study (PDF download) sponsored and released by mobile enterprise app development platform Kony today indicates that if users hate your app, it's probably more about the look and feel than it is about functionality.
The survey asked more than 340 developers and designers about their pain points when building apps. A solid 50% of respondents said that their apps weren't approved by higher-ups or their outside clients because of user experience (UX) issues, not because of problems with functionality.
"Mobile app design is often overlooked in the development process, but companies are finding that most mobile apps fail because of lack of user adoption caused by poor design and experience," said Kony Executive Vice President and CMO Dave Shirk in a statement.
Breaking that down a little further, the top three sticking points in bad UX design were poor planning -- clients and users not clearly elucidating what they wanted to see in the app -- negative feedback once it actually hit a user's hands and UX design not actually meeting one or more of the app's goals.
Meanwhile, 40% of those same developers said that making change requests to an app's interface adds anywhere between 25% to 50% of additional development time, a third said it adds 50% to 100% more development time, and 5% estimated that UX changes would more than double the development time to fix their apps.
As for the designers best able to improve the situation, they said that working with developers is a huge pain. When a prototype app comes back to them, they said they provide input and guidance, but collaboration is a real challenge.
The solution, the study suggests, is in new tools to allow developers and designers work together better to actually help users. This is important because every company is a technology company these days (or so goes the standard Silicon Valley spiel), and more and more IT organizations are moving to build apps used across the enterprise, from sales to marketing to HR.
Not surprisingly, Kony offers such help. The Kony platform enables customers to handle every aspect of the software lifecycle, from building to deployment to management, with a collaborative element that keeps developers, designers and management in the loop. How convenient.
"Mobile is more than just taking CRM and throwing it on a sales rep's phone," Kony CEO Tom Hogan told Computerworld several weeks ago.
In other words, the real power of the cloud and mobile is only unlocked with apps that people actually want to use. That means building native apps for every platform (something Kony specializes in helping developers with). Again, we see that design is more important and more powerful than technology -- users don't care what's under the hood, they just care what it can do for them.