What Makes a Really Good App

Feb 21, 2022 | TIPS & TOOLS, PODCAST

In this episode of Digital Dames; martech podcast Conversion Path we are talking about the features of what makes a good app, both from a user design perspective, and more importantly, from a data and analytics perspective.


Listen in to learn about:

  • Analytics and event tracking
  • Data strategy
  • Standard event metrics every app needs
  • Design UX/UI basics
  • Our favorite heat mapping and user recording tools
  • Methods for testing your designs using data and tech

Listen to the Full Episode

Conversion Path is a mar-tech podcast about data and growth for your online and mobile business by CRO firm Digital Dames. We gather every week to talk about how to amplify your product, service or message.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Rage clicking – watch our quick explanation on Instagram reels

Connect with Digital Dames

[email protected]

Subscribe to the Podcast

See the full transcription of this week’s episode below.

What Makes a Really Good App

J: Welcome to Conversion Path, a podcast about technology, data, and growth for your online and mobile business’ by Digital Dames. We gather here every week to talk about how to amplify your product, service, or message. I’m Jaclyn Hawtin.

M: Hi, I’m Mani O’Brien. In this episode, we are discussing “What Makes a Really Good App?” To start, Jaclyn, let’s talk about your pick, what makes a really good app, in your eyes?

J: In my experience, the people that build the best apps, generally, all have a really solid strategy around event tracking. This is really important, because it’s the thing that allows you to gain insight into what’s actually going on in your app, how people are actually using your app, and extract meaning from that information. If it’s designed in the right way, you can actually optimize those experiences and make them better over time.

It’s not something that happens automatically. You need to meet with multiple stakeholders in the organization, including the technical side, but also the people that are client-facing, and the CEO. Everybody needs to be at the table to get a sense of “what needs to be done in order to make this thing work better?”

One thing is basically just a behavior that a user does on your app that could be tracked. It might be as simple as clicking a button. or creating an account. That’s a little bit more involved. It’s basically tracking whatever user behavior in the app you want to know that will feed into your API strategy later on down the line.

Ask yourself, what exactly do you want to find out? What standard KPIs do you need to use that can help? Then when you’re doing the design at the beginning of the project, you can do visual mapping. It’s really helpful for all members to kind of get a sense of like, “Oh, you start over here, we want to track button clicks and logins and that sort of thing.” Then later on, you can combine those different event variables, and calculate things like lifetime value.

Some standard core event metrics that you want to have on every map are: number of new users, increased app usage, your app rating, lifetime value, your retention rate, logins, session length, and active users. The other side to event tracking is going to be that the events are unique to your particular app. Say you have a meditation app and every day your users are using the app; they’ll sit down and they’ll log their meditation. Maybe they’ll log how long they meditated for. Those could be two events. Event One is the date of meditation and then an associated property of that event is how long they actually meditated. You can imagine that when you start tracking these individual interactions over time, you can do some really cool calculations to get new insights and improve user experience. That’s what I would recommend.

If you want to make a really good app, make sure you have a solid strategy around your event tracking and you have a clear picture about what information you’re trying to understand about user behavior so you can code it correctly.

M: I love that and your recommendation on visual mapping. You can think of it this way,“This is what we want our users to do and then this is the data point attached to it.”

To pivot, I will share my recommendation for what makes a good app while leaning on more of the design components involved. Of course, design is informed by event tracking and analytics. That is always our first go-to, making sure you have the proper data strategy in place. We talked about that a little bit in the first episode. Hopefully your design is driven by data, not only your strategy, but the outcome. If you find your users are dropping off at a certain point during the signup process, that will inform your design decision. It’s not subjective, it’s not up to a small group of people in a room who think that users will like a green button, instead of an orange button, it’s really driven by how your users actually engage with the app. That’s the mindset that needs to be taken first and foremost.

Then, generally speaking, mobile apps that tend to perform best in terms of user engagement, always tend to adopt a simplicity about them. This trend has been set by Apple in their very minimalist design. Humans don’t like to be presented with too many decisions; it actually creates anxiety. We know this about human psychology; less is more. When you’re designing your app, you really want to think about simplicity in your design, in terms of colors, fonts, and then the presentation of what you want people to do. Ideally, you want your users to just do one thing on the screen and then build around that. Presenting too many options can be very confusing and anxiety-inducing.

Then from a branding perspective, think through colors, fonts, and icons that are reflective of how you want people to feel, and how you want them to interact with you. choose a color palette that is reflective of the feelings you want to exude. If it’s a meditation app, you probably want to use more natural colors and tones, not a lot of reds. Being very selective about the color choices of your buttons, for example, to allow visual hierarchy, for your users to be guided into what you want them to do. If you have a financial app, you want to be very careful about the colors that you’re choosing to represent colors that build trust with your users.

There are tools to help you with this. We’ve touched on this in previous episodes. Certainly, heat mapping tools will help you gain an understanding of how users are interacting with your app in a quantitative way. You might find that if you want people to create an account, you might be able to identify areas of your signup flow where people are getting frustrated or having a hard time with things like…

J: Rage clicking.

M: Rage clicking. One of our favorite terms.You can definitely get insight into when people are angrily tapping their screens out of frustration. So you want to identify those areas and present different solutions. That transitions into another tool that’s also helpful, which is AB testing tools. These tools allow you to present 50% of your audience with one version of a design, 50% with another, and through very strategic testing, you can get an outcome and see how people want to interact with your app. I just wanted to share those kinds of tidbits.

J: One of our other favorite terms is “cognitive overload.”

J: What you’re saying about making sure to keep things simple. It’s like, it’s better to have more screens, where there’s only one thing on the screen for the user to do versus trying— sometimes people want to be more efficient with space, like, “Oh, let’s put these four things on the screen.” The human brain goes crazy when that happens.

M: Cognitive overload. Are you creating cognitive overload? Another pet peeve of mine is that mobile apps don’t consider the human hand and the placement of where your thumb is. It’s like, “why are you making me lift my other hand up and go to the top of my screen?” You know I have a mobile device, why would you not put the button right here where my thumb already is?

I think that obviously this type of insight becomes very obvious when you actually present your product to real people.

M: Also, it’s user-centered design. In our design sprints, we make sure that before anything goes to the development stage, we’re doing interactive prototyping. We’re having real users test the prototype experience. So those things become obvious early on in the game, and they don’t end up becoming very expensive to change. Obviously, things like where the finger goes, that becomes kind of standard over time. But there are other things that surprise you that you wouldn’t catch, unless you go through that process.

M: I think sometimes people get a little bit wrapped up in user-centered design. And I think that it’s not as complex as I think it sounds to some people. If you imagine designing a coffee shop, and you want to get a sense of the flow of traffic, then you might try different layouts of the furniture just to see how humans actually interact in the space when they’re ordering coffee and shimmying past each other. You might find a more natural flow for the way the rail guards are set up and the tables and chairs are set up. It’s really just a matter of seeing how real-life humans interact in your real-life environment, but in a digital space.

J: Absolutely. You can get really creative with user-centered design, and gain a lot of insights. Take the time to do it.

M: Well, I guess that’s all the time we have for this week’s episode. Jaclyn, thank you so much.

J: Thanks, Mani.

M: And thank you for listening. If you’d like to connect with us, we’d love to hear your ideas about the podcast and topics you’d like to cover. This month, we’re covering mobile app marketing. You can find us across social media @digitaldames. You can visit us on our website at www.digitaldames.io, and drop us an email we’d love to hear from you. Our email is [email protected]. Until next time, thanks so much.

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post

If you'd like our team at Digital Dames to help you massively improve website traffic and conversions, just book a call.

Post Contributors

Jaclyn Hawtin

Jaclyn Hawtin

Senior Data Architect

Over a decade of experience in product management, devops, startups, and agile methodologies. Track record of simplifying complex technical processes for cross-functional teams. Proficient in user centered design, UX, IX, UI, IA, user research and data analytics for responsive web, mobile and tablet applications. Incredibly adaptable, fluent with both people and machines.

Mani O'Brien

Mani O'Brien

Conversion optimization manager

Mani is a senior marketing manager with roots in storytelling. She nerds out on everything data, technology, human behavior and design. Chat with her about UX/UI, marketing funnels, conversion and goal tracking, marketing experimentation and astrology (she’s a Virgo Sun, Aries Rising).

Most Read
Shopify Conversion Tips with Elevar CEO Brad Redding

Shopify Conversion Tips with Elevar CEO Brad Redding

In this episode we have our first podcast guest… we’re excited to welcome Founder & CEO of Elevar, Brad Redding. Brad has specialized in eCommerce and analytics since 2008 when he launched his first SaaS company that was a marketplace matching shoppers and...

4 Steps To A Successful AB Test

4 Steps To A Successful AB Test

Did you know that a CRO expert can easily pinpoint 50 to 150 problems on a website or mobile app? You can't attempt to fix all your problems at once, so how should you prioritize? If you want to convert more customers and increase sales, the answer lies in AB testing,...

Free Analytics 101 Course

Sign up for free access to start your data journey
First Name
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Conversion Path Ep. 12 -- Shopify Conversion Tips With Guest Brad Redding from Elevar Ep. 12 -- Shopify Conversion Tips With Guest Brad Redding from Elevar More