Many companies have discovered that a mobile app can do a lot more than simply sell a product or service. This understanding has opened new marketing avenues and given them an opportunity to engage their customers in new and innovative ways. Today’s mobile experience is all about telling stories and many companies are taking cues from the likes of Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to incorporate storytelling elements into their apps.
But what makes a mobile experience successful for a brand? To find out, we asked a few members of our Experience Design team what their favorite mobile apps are and what it is that keeps them coming back.
Target (Annika Hey, Creative Director)
I shop at Target a lot, both online and in-store now that COVID has changed so much of how we do things. The app has become a tool that I use to accompany me on almost all of my shopping trips. I do my online shopping in the app, and it’s super easy. Then when I’m in the store, I’m always pulling it out to help me find the things I’m looking for.
The mix of personalization based on my purchase history and all the effort they’ve put into being able to tell me exactly where I am in the store makes shopping a breeze. I’m never wasting time searching for the merchandise that may or may not be in stock or where I would expect it to be.
I also love that the app has a wallet with my coupons, payment methods, AND receipts. The receipt thing is a surprise bonus because it makes returns easier and keeps my purse less cluttered with paper. This app is one of the few that really streamlines a big aspect of my life and gets used many times each week.
Digit (Annika Hey, Creative Director)
Digit is a savings tool based on making small daily transfers from my checking into savings goals. It’s more of a set-it-and-forget-it type of app. However, since it’s my money, I do check in at least once a week. What I like about it is that when I do want to see what’s happening with my cash, it is incredibly easy to see where everything is. The interface is friendly and uses plain language to tell me when it made its last transfers and how much I have saved.
Digit also does a great job of establishing trust. There are two major ways it does this. First, it gives me control over the max withdrawal and the minimum amount I want to maintain in my checking account as a source. Second, it clearly explains how it learns about my spending habits. I can take comfort knowing that I can spend as I need to without worrying about any sort of overdraft because of the savings activity. It also makes it easy and fast to move money back to checking or to pause any activity.
Pinterest (Irena Yankova, Experience Designer)
It’s all about the pinning — Pinterest is about adding images to a board, an action they’ve made extremely easy. The app allows you to do it in multiple ways, all of them quite intuitive. The top space is taken by my boards as a filtering suggestion which allows me to directly find and add images related to that board.
When I select a specific list, the images change and a CTA that allows you to easily add them appears over the image. In this way, the application guides you really nicely and allows you to easily do what you are here for. By the default view, you could also quite easily pin an image, select board, and then continue pinteresting (Yes, it is a word!)
Scrolling — an infinite scroll that gives you related images. The scrolling is a big part of this application. It feels really nice, small details like hiding the main bar on the scroll gives you an extra space to see more results. Overall the application plays really nicely with people’s dependence on information, giving you a small portion of it, that hooks you and you could spend hours scrolling through. After all, if an application name has become a verb it is probably good.
UI — or the lack of it. This application is centered heavily on a lot of images so adding extra UI elements could be a poor choice. Very clean design, the accent is on the pics, nothing that feels out of place. I like how the images break the grid and yet it looks good. They have removed any actions from the home feed, hiding it in interactions. This gives more space for the images to stand out and makes the application feels dynamic.
Search — I quite enjoy their search because it’s mindful of the way the people use Pinterest. If I want something specific I could easily find it but for the majority of the time, I don’t know exactly what I am looking for.
At this point, I could just type the main thing that I want to find – let’s say books – and then right below the search I am presented with tags that help me narrow down the search (“quotes”, “funny”, “fantasy” and etc);
Personalization — using the top bar for my boards, not only helps directly start pinning. It gives me this personal touch — this is what I want to see — my boards, with results that are interesting for me. Pinterest gives you really nice suggestions based on your searches and it is easy to get you hooked because it gives you what you want to see. When you hit search the first thing you see is “ideas for you” with this big text, taking the most visible space with nicely grouped content that is there specifically for you.
Revolut (Irena Yankova, Experience Designer)
I like how Revolut makes every action appear quite clean and easy to understand. For example, when you log in to the application, every action is separated really nicely. You have a small portion of information to fill for every screen then hit “next”, I don’t mind the extra “clicks” as I feel everything comes very easy and natural.
There are screens with only one field and that is fine because I know exactly what I should do on that step. The overall frustration when you are working with a banking app is removed. They have also added this playful element – when transferring money to someone you could add a funny gif, which I think is brilliant.
Usually, this feature is used between friends and it gives one extra fun element to the experience. This prompts people to talk more about Revolut and make it more popular without any extra efforts from them.
Headspace (Irena Yankova, Experience Designer)
Headspace has one of the best UIs I have seen recently. Everything on it creates a feeling of open space and easy breathing. It uses a lot of white space yet doesn’t look empty because of the bright vivid colors. Orange, yellow, and blue contrast really well and give a sense of calm, liveness, and happiness. It’s perfect for the subject of the application. There is a lot of space between the lines, soft colors for the text, and large fields.
The app’s content is well-organized. The copy is short and to the point. Subtle animation gives you the feeling of breathing. It is one of the best examples of using both white and dark modes. It switches to dark mode really mindfully and in the right context of the sleep meditation. This plays with the user’s emotions and guides to a different calmer mode. It’s a great experience overall.
Noom (Kate Tolmie, Senior UX Designer)
Noom is a weight-loss program designed by psychologists. They are killin’ it in the behavior change space and doing everything right. The app consists of meal logging, informational content, biometric tracker, virtual coaching, and a community. Everything from the weight loss program itself to the UX of the interface is based on science. From a UX perspective, the interface is thoughtfully laid out. They have considered several behavioral heuristics for how to organize the app to promote healthy user engagement.
Here are just a few:
Information grouped into familiar, manageable units is more easily understood and recalled. Noom’s interface is simple and easy to use. Each day, a user can easily see the things they need to do and the things they have already completed. Their day is organized into several steps that behave as a daily check-list.
We are more likely to take action when complex activities are broken down into smaller tasks. Daily articles are broken down into several light-hearted steps. They use humor and metaphors to help users understand the content and how to apply it in their own life.
Humorous items are more easily remembered — and enjoyed!! Noom uses lots of humor and pop culture references to keep users engaged.
Commitment & Consistency
We desire to act in a manner consistent with our stated beliefs and prior actions. Noom’s weight graph is designed to help users see their weight loss over time relative to the goal they have established for themselves. It’s easy and motivating to see when you are on track.
Our brains are aroused by new and unexpected discoveries (within our normal routines). Each day there are several new articles to read within the program. You can’t look at the articles in advance.
We tend to follow the patterns of similar people in new or unfamiliar situations. Noom’s user community consists of people with similar goals. Through the app, they are able to share their struggles, successes, and encourage each other.
What Can You Learn From These Apps
All the apps listed belong to world-renowned companies who are leaders in their respective industries. If you look closely, few of them directly focuses on selling their own services. Instead, they have identified the needs of their customers and fulfilled them through their mobile app. They have created mobile apps around solutions, not self-promotion. These apps have also identified one major problem, focusing on resolving it comprehensively.
When you change your mindset from direct marketing to problem resolution, that’s when you can create apps that truly resonate with your customers. Once they’re avid users of your mobile app, selling new features and generating word of mouth marketing through them becomes a surmountable goal.
Talk to us more about brand engagement through mobile technology.