Managing expectations of your app

May 21, 2012

Manage expectations. Your app description must clarify what it does and doesn’t do. It should be short, bullet pointed and not full of jargon.

Managing expectations when producing an app is vital. Not doing so leaves users disappointed and could potentially damage your brand.
Take the Sainsbury’s app for example. Do you expect to be able to buy your food shopping on this app? Most people would answer ‘yes’ to this question. So the question is, if you can’t order shopping on this app, what’s it for? It can find your nearest Sainsbury’s, tell you about the latest offers and provide you with Sainsbury’s news. Whilst these features are nice to have, it is questionable whether this is what users expect. User reviews include Sainsbury’s need to launch an iPhone shopping app, I for one have defected to Tesco’s. Come on Sainsbury’s, keep up with Tesco. This app is useless. We want a Sainsbury’s shopping app, not a guided tour to nowhere!. In their defence, however, the app description does outline what it does in reality: a store locator, information about top deals, Sainsbur’s news and Nectar points information. Despite this though, this app fails to meet users’ expectations.

The same applies to the clothes retailer H & M. Do users expect to be able to view and purchase clothes from this app? In reality, this app showcases some of the H & M collection but in order to purchase an item it involves going physically to the shop. This again leaving users disappointed “This app isn’t worth the time it took to download it!”.

Likewise with the Virgin holiday brochure app. Users are able to browse through the holiday brochure and find a holiday, although when wanting to book it this is a whole arduous task in itself. Users are expected to see the small website link positioned at the bottom of each page which directs them to the Virgin site, having lost the specific holiday you were searching for in the first place. The question is do users expect to be able to book their holiday using this app?

State up front in your app description what your app does and doesn’t do. This will help to manage users’ expectations of the app and avoid disappointment.

Present this description in a bullet pointed list. From experience, users do not want to trawl through paragraphs of information; they want the key facts quickly. In addition, avoid using company jargon in these descriptions. Most importantly think about expectations of your app. Users often want to download apps to make their life easier and to access information or buy products here and now.