Everyone and their dog has some kind of prediction about the future of apps: the demise of apps, no wait, the continued rise of apps, or the changing foundations of apps… In fact if you look back far enough I’m sure Nostradamus had something to say on the matter (“From a fruit trinket will come forth a dynamic epiphany…” or something like that). Of course this level of scrutiny and discussion is inevitable: apps play a huge part in our everyday lives and almost certainly will for the foreseeable future. Unless the world ends this year, of course.
Make app experiences great again
So, what happens if the world doesn’t end this year? Well, there are a lot of possibilities. But one prediction that can be made with some confidence is that what I call ‘dynamic apps’ will become ever more prevalent. It’s easy enough to make this prediction because in truth this is a trend that started some time ago. 2017 will simply see these dynamic apps become more prevalent than before.
Before looking at exactly what I mean by ‘dynamic apps’ let’s remind ourselves of some of the reasons that make apps great, and make people love them (which they do, something around 80% of all time on the smartphone is spent inside apps). In contrast to mobile internet, mobile apps have few limitations imposed on them when it comes to UX, and load times are not an issue. That adds up to a snappy experience that allows the user to get things done quickly, a prime consideration on mobile!
There’s the benefit, but here’s the frustration: if you want to change anything in your app, it won’t be implemented until the user downloads an update, which isn’t ideal to say the least. Factor in the development and planning time, and you could be talking months to change even simple elements of the user experience. Imagine waking up one January morning with a new idea for an improved onboarding process, only to discover that it will be June before it hits the app store. And that, of course, is what mobile internet does best. Changing HTML takes moments.
Step forward dynamic apps - the ability to change what is served to a user on the fly, within the mobile app. This idea is not especially new, and the ability to do this has been the bread and butter of Swrve for a while now, but it will be seen more and more in apps as businesses want to deliver changes in the moment, when it matters. Add to this the fact that users are increasingly expecting more tailored, contextual and personalized content, and dynamic app experiences are steadily becoming essential.
So, what is going to change?
Ultimately the core of your app will become smaller and smaller, and important interactions like onboarding flows, purchasing flows and so on will be delivered dynamically, in the moment, and in many cases optimized according to previous user behavior.
In itself that solves the issue around rapid updating. But it also enables the business to quickly and easily A/B test every piece of dynamic content that you serve, sending out multiple variants to different types of users and optimizing based on the data that is returned. The more elements that are dynamic, the more you can test and optimise a user’s journey to your advantage. That’s important when we remember that simply downloading the app isn’t an end in itself, but rather usually just the beginning.
However, it is important to remember and preserve the things that made apps so great in the first place, which the particularly observant reader will have noticed I delved briefly into above - chiefly that they are fast and have great UX. Anything that disturbs this winning combination is only going to be detrimental to your mobile strategy. To give one obvious example, content delivered via in-app message should not make a user wait for it to load; if there is one thing that users hate more than a pop up, it’s waiting for a pop up. So make sure that you don’t show something that hasn’t already been loaded in the background and is ready to go.
Similarly complete control over what you show is also important. It’s no good replacing native app experience with clunky looking off-brand screens. You’re looking for pixel perfect screens that match your company’s style guide and app.
Of course there will be many more twists and turns in the history of mobile apps. More dynamic content is just one that happens to be on the horizon. For some of our other predictions for 2017, take a look at our Mobile Marketing Trends in 2017 whitepaper.