The term quality is often thrown around to describe any sort of product or service. In that sense, quality can mean a lot of things. If we’re considering quality to be how fast or easy-to-use a mobile app is then it gets a bit complicated because apps come in all shapes and sizes. Some apps attempt to do everything you need, while others focus on a single function and try to do it well. In this guide, we'll talk about why app quality is important and how you can improve the performance, stability, testing, and usability of your mobile app.
The way that we define app quality here is the fitness of the app for its intended use. Factors that affect app quality include performance, stability, testing, and usability, and these all come down to the end user experience. Some performance and stability considerations include: Is it loading fast enough? Is it draining the battery? Is it crashing constantly? Rigorous testing ensures that an app performs well, is stable, and is usable. And finally, high quality apps need to be user-friendly. Regardless of what the ultimate function of the app is, users need to be able to interact with the app with ease.
To be able to assess mobile app quality, you can use a common set of quantifiable metrics to compare apps against each other, or to compare how a single app's quality has changed over time.
With the abundance of mobile apps available, especially the number of apps that claim to perform the same function, users are more sensitive to app quality as a differentiator when deciding which app to use. When users are selecting between five apps that all do the same thing, they probably won't choose to use the apps that crash, are slow, and are not regularly updated with bug fixes and performance improvements.
Mobile app quality can be broken down into four equally important areas:
Application performance monitoring measures the technical aspects of your mobile app’s quality. Bad performance can make a mobile app unusable and users won’t hesitate to delete it. Here are a few key aspects of performance:
- Speed: Performance relies greatly on how fast things are executed by the mobile app. Speed in this instance has to do with screen transition speeds and how fast everything loads. If your app takes a longer than usual amount of time to start, users will notice.
- UI performance: Since the UI is what your users will be interacting with, it's key that there are few to no hangs or other issues. If your app hangs with every user command, it will feel slow and frustrating for your users.
- Network performance: One of the biggest factors affecting both speed and performance is network calls. Most applications rely on multiple services and network requirements. Any slow or failing network request hurts the overall performance of your app and negatively impacts your users' experience.
This is in essence how reliable your app is. If an app is behaving the way that it should, then it’s considered stable. App stability is commonly associated with crashes and errors. While it’s almost impossible to avoid any crashes or errors, how often they occur is the measure of your app’s stability, which in turn affects its quality.
- Crashes: The worst-case scenario of any user session is a crash. A crash completely ends the user’s session and ruins their experience with your app. Constant crashes are the biggest indicator of a poor quality app.
- Errors: Errors disrupt the user experience. If users experience too many errors or too often, they will probably delete your app and download one of your competitors instead.
- Resources: The most common cause of crashes and errors are resource constraints. Apps are often developed in a vacuum, but in the wild, an app would be running alongside a host of other apps. If an app consumes too many resources, be it CPU usage, memory usage, or battery, this will negatively impact your app's stability and users won’t hesitate to delete it.
This is crucial in order to prevent unhandled errors and catch issues before they get released into production. Integrating strong testing early on in an app’s life cycle can save a lot of headaches and resources down the line.
- Functionality testing: Making sure your app is working as intended is the bread-and-butter of testing. Functionality testing helps eliminate any critical issues with the user journey and navigation flow of the app.
- Compatibility testing: Every user will have a different environment that your app will run in. Compatibility testing helps make sure the app is working as intended on the devices and in the different situations it was intended for.
- Performance testing: Performance issues will disrupt the user experience and lower the quality of your app. Performance testing helps eliminate issues such as excessive battery consumption or resource use.
This refers to how the user interacts with your mobile application. If a user finds it difficult to use your app, they are more likely to remove it and leave a bad review. When it comes to app quality, here are a few key usability aspects you should prioritize:
- User-friendliness: How easily your users are able to reach their goals with your app. If your app is user-friendly, that means your app is intuitive, easy to use, simple, and reliable for your target users. This can be sometimes hard to quantify and can be very relative.
- The flow of critical path: Every app has at least one core function. The journey a user takes from launching an app to fulfilling this key purpose is known as the critical path. This path will be where a vast majority of your users will spend their time. How easy it is for users to get through this critical path is an important measure of quality. This can be broken down into how responsive, fast, smooth, and easy to follow the critical path is.
- Onboarding: Apps don’t have a lot of time to impress new users. It’s very important that users are taught simply and effectively how to achieve their desired purpose with the app. This is called bringing users onboard. Since the onboarding flow will be the first thing a new user will interact with inside your app, it needs to be intuitive, easy to follow, and effective. Effective might mean getting your users to your app's "Aha!" moment as fast as possible to demonstrate value, or it might mean getting your users to invest time and effort into your app to encourage stickiness. This will take some amount of trial, error, testing, and most importantly getting first-time users’ feedback to help guide your decision-making process.
In an ideal world, every mobile team would want to make their app the highest quality possible. In reality, we are faced with resource allocation constraints, whether that is time, money, or engineering capacity. Compromising your app’s quality in favor of something else comes with a lot of consequences. Here are some of the key reasons why you should avoid releasing a low-quality app at all costs:
- 49% of users expect apps to start in two seconds or less
- 88% of app users will abandon apps based on bugs and glitches
- 51% would abandon an app completely if they experienced one or more bugs per day
- 94% of users uninstall mobile apps after 30 days from download. App crashes cause 71% of those uninstalls.
- 80% of users notice glitches and bugs in apps
- 80% would give a poorly performing app three chances or less before uninstalling it
- A whopping 53% of users uninstall or remove apps if they crash or do not respond
- 36% of users will stop using an app due solely to heavy battery usage
A study of apps on the Play Store shows that 50% of one-star reviews mentioned app stability. Excessive battery usage, slow render times, and crashes were among the key sources of frustration. Higher quality apps are more discoverable in the app stores than similar apps of lower quality and tend to have more users and fewer uninstalls.
Mobile apps are not cheap to develop and maintain. And generating enough user interest and daily active users (DAU) to increase revenue streams is a huge challenge. Let’s take a look at what low app quality means for your business bottom line.
- 65% of app users believe that companies don't do enough to ensure better user experiences and fail to offer updated versions of apps with fewer bugs
- 50% of app users are likely to be dissuaded from downloading an app based on customer reviews that mention bugs and glitches
- 50% of adults under 50 always or almost always read online reviews when buying something for the first time
- 69% of users say that poor app experiences lower their opinions of the company that created it
While an app is in development, the cost of not fixing a bug is multiplied during the different phases of the software development lifecycle, according to IBM:
- 100x cost in the maintenance phase
- 15x cost in the testing phase
- 6.5x cost in the implementation phase
- 1x cost in the design phase
After an app is released, the consequences of avoiding fixing app crashes and bugs early on negatively impacts all areas of the business, including:
- Less revenue
- Higher Customer Acquisition Cost
- Poorer brand reputation
Benchmarks to meet
The reasons to avoid having a low-quality app are clear, but since every app is different, how do you know what metrics to measure? When it comes to stability and performance there are a couple of standard industry benchmarks that you should always aim to meet.
- 49% of users expect an app to respond in 2 seconds or less
- Based on an analysis of the top 100 apps, 39 apps start in under or around 2 seconds, and 73 in under 3 seconds. Ideally, you should be targeting an app launch time of 1.5-2 seconds.
- The acceptable crash-free rate for mobile apps is 99% for users and 99.9% for sessions.
Getting users to download your app is a big enough challenge, but getting them to stay is an even bigger one. If users experience any crashes, delays, or bugs, they're likely to delete your app altogether. If your app is unstable or slow, it won't be successful. In this section, we will cover how you can use Instabug to improve your app quality and make your users happy.
App performance monitoring
Instabug App Performance Monitoring (APM) helps you track key metrics to improve your app's performance, including Apdex scores, UI hangs, network timeouts and issues, slow launches, tracking custom traces, and more.
Using an APM tool for mobile apps helps you take a proactive approach towards improving quality instead of waiting for a crash or error to occur or hearing negative feedback from users. You'll be able to identify possible bottleneck situations and keep your app running as fast as possible. By staying on top of monitoring, you can allocate and adjust resources to keep your app performing to the best of its capabilities.
Probably the biggest indicator of your app’s performance is its stability. An app crashing too often is a surefire way to lose users for good. Since crashes specifically are fatal errors and completely stop the user from using the app, they can become a huge issue quickly. It’s important to measure your app’s stability score and to keep constant track of it. One of the best ways to monitor your app’s health is to have a strong crash reporting tool like Instabug.
Instabug's detailed crash reports help you figure out the root cause of an issue quickly so that you can resolve the problem more effectively. When a crash occurs, and crashes are an inevitable occurrence, you need to know about it well before negative reviews are posted. With Instabug, you'll be alerted to your app’s crashes in real-time so you can act fast and fix them before they impact more of your users.
It is impossible to avoid bugs altogether. Similar to crashes, the best way to handle them is to be able to quickly detect, diagnose, and fix them before they affect a lot of users. Instabug's bug reporting tool makes it as easy as possible for your testers and users to report bugs and as easy as possible for your developers to understand the problem and fix it. This is crucial for both internal testing and for live apps.
And while APM and crash reporting are important to app quality, they're missing a critical dimension: the voice of your users. With bug reporting, you complete the picture by collecting real user feedback, from which you can learn tons of valuable insights.
- Mobile App Performance Metrics and KPIs
- How to Build High-Performance Apps: Development, Beta, and Production
- How Much Your Mobile App Performance Costs Your Business
- Performance Monitoring and User Experience for Mobile App Growth
Instabug empowers mobile teams to maintain industry-leading apps with mobile-focused, user-centric stability and performance monitoring.