Mobility: One or multiple apps for your business?

30 July 2018
Killer App
With the rise of digitalisation, all major companies now offer their services via one or multiple mobile applications. What has become a very clear trend during the last several years is the Killer App, which has this name because it does everything. It offers the entirety of services relative to your business and it promises a consistent end-to-end experience to its users.

Killer App: The app that hides other apps!

With the rise of digitalisation, all major companies now offer their services via one or multiple mobile applications. What has become a very clear trend during the last several years is the Killer App, which has this name because it does everything. It offers the entirety of services relative to your business and it promises a consistent end-to-end experience to its users.

The only downside is that when one analyses the real use of these Killer Apps in the field, we observe that they are, for the most part, unused, if not unusable. In any case, they are often not necessarily used as their designers had initially imagined. Meanwhile, we can also find on the market apps that focus on 1-3 major features maximum and which allows those who use them to directly and efficiently access the service sought.  

Case studies

Some concrete examples that illustrate this phenomenon:


 Different applications


Hotel Tonight

The application has only one goal: to find a reservation at the last minute at one of the best-rated hotels close to the user.

The designers could have said, “OK, we know how to choose a hotel for a requested date, so let’s do something more generic, more complete.” The result could have involved adding package reservation functionalities that would combine hotel, flight and car bookings. Consequently, Hotel Tonight would just become another competitor to Kayak.

               

Banking apps

Banking apps generally offer a very extended range of services in order to be able to manage all possible operations from your cell phone, as you would be able to do on the website or at your bank.

However, have you already tried doing something other than looking at your account balance or making a money transfer with your banking app? Have you ever tried doing something else, like finding your closest bank branch or using the credit simulator? In the majority of cases, most users say no. Why? For two reasons:

1 – Because the needs of the bank and its top management have been put forward and have taken precedence over those of the real users;

2 – Because all of these little-used or unused functionalities have been implemented to respond to a small section of users.

Furthermore, ask yourself this question: “How complicated or smooth is it to open my banking app to make a transfer?”

 

Facebook vs. Messenger

Initially, Facebook had offered many of its website functionalities in only one app. Several years ago, Facebook decided to split this enormous initial app between a main app that is still enormous, but a little less so now (Facebook) and an efficient online conversation app (Facebook Messenger). This move was made after Facebook designers realised that responding to a friend in the main app took forever and that one’s mindset was completely different when receiving a message vs. when “chilling” on Facebook. They needed to change their application in order to reduce the effort made when chatting with a friend.

 

Killer App or Specialised Apps? 


“The time and effort of doing the behaviour right now must be less than the pain you feel right now by putting it off."

HECTOR, Jean-François. One app vs. multiple apps: what can we learn from Facebook Messenger?. Under Insights 01 August 2014. 

Should you add a functionality to your existing app, or is it preferable to create one or more specialised apps? To see it more clearly, here are the strengths of each option:


Killer app vs specialised app
 

If Killer Apps are the norm, it is because it promises something attractive: being able to provide a complete range of functionalities and being ready to respond to all needs no matter the user’s situation, all while offering a consistent and homogeneous experience.

However, when the application provides too much information, its focus is no longer clear and the app might overwhelm the user with the amount of information displayed. In the end, the user will only use a small portion of the features: those that directly interest him or her and thus the ones that the user has already mastered (sometimes with difficulty). The other features, which do not correspond to the user’s current needs, remain invisible or useless from the point of view of the user.

On top of this, we have maintenance costs that are difficult to restrain and applications that consume resources (memory, battery) disproportionately if one considers the purpose they really serve.

Faced with this, it must be noted that specialised apps present many advantages.

The essential criteria for making the right choice include:

  • Ease of use must always be a priority;
  • The complexity of the requested feature should be taken into account. Its addition must not make the application heavier in a rash manner;  
  • The difficulty or the ease of integration, which are determining factors in the effort and the cost of implementation in service and maintenance;
  • The level and the frequency of use which must be consistent with the functionalities already implemented. For example, if an app is used daily, it must only include daily features.

In the rest of the world, why have these leaders opted for multiple apps?


Specialised Apps

 

Facebook offers the Pages and Moments apps, using the same logic that led to the implementation of the Messenger app. Pages is dedicated to the creation, management and administration of Facebook pages. Moments is used to create and share photo albums. The specialisation of these apps correspond simultaneously to a segment of users (professional or general public) and to different economic models in order to have access to all the features, of which some require payment, especially with Pages.

Ma Matmut is practically a textbook case since in addition to a base application it provides two specialised apps:

-Assistance: for obviously exceptional use, it allows direct access to the help service with the necessary efficiency and rapidity necessary in a stressful emergency.

-E-declaration: No one wants to need to use this application, but it is very practical when a loss or accident takes place. This app is very specialised and has complex features for guiding the user through each step of the declaration (nine in case of a car accident) and to not omitting anything in the description of the incident and damage sustained.

One small plus is that in the base application, one click on the main menu on “assistance” or “declaration” directs the user to download the specialised dedicated app.

Instagram also provides its users with specialised apps that embed dedicated and recent technological solutions:

-Boomerang: recording videos that loop back and forth;

-Layouts: making a collage out of photos, or reorganising multiple photos into only one;

-Hyperlapse: creating a time-lapse video.

This makes it possible to manage a lifecycle and a clean versioning strategy based on the evolution of the implemented technologies for each app.

YouTube has multiplied its specialised apps, of which there are now six, throughout the years. This evolution is guided by the transformation of its economic model and its desire to diversify and enlarge its palette of services for the public.

For example, YouTube Music, which launched this past spring, entered the streaming music market and is beginning to compete with Deezer, Apple Music and Spotify.                                                                                                        

It's up to you to choose…

Whatever your ambition, there will not be a minimal solution. Each situation deserves its own study. What we recommend, above all, is to:

  • Involve specialised ergonomists in user experience (UX) in order to objectify the strengths/contributions and weaknesses of each option;
  • Always reconcile the user experience with the technical difficulty of implementation;
  • Be aware of limiting the number of offered features to only those that will be used most frequently.


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