Here lies App, may he rest in peace

Here lies App, may he rest in peace

The title of this blog is a bit misleading. Rest assured, the app is not dead. But the whole app landscape definitely needs to be reinvented.

 

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Beautiful apps but no downloads

We’ve come to a moment where the technology behind apps is often top-notch, as well as the user interface. Most apps are pretty well-designed, with an easy-to-use interface, but there’s one problem. It’s always yet another app and yet another interface people have to get familiar with. Lots of businesses have their own app, but gradually its value is declining: the app is not being downloaded.

Go where your customers are

As a designer it’s not just my task to create beautiful, user-friendly apps and tools. An essential part of my job is getting into people’s head and figuring out how they want to use brands’ digital products and services. If the apps are not being downloaded, something is wrong. People are saturated with apps and tools. They don’t want to ‘clutter’ their phone with yet another app.

The solution to this problem is very simple: businesses need to go where their customers are. Let’s briefly discuss the evolution of design and user experience:

schermafbeelding-2016-11-02-om-11-24-54Up until now, we were focusing very hard on simplifying the user interface. Think about note-taking apps: they used to be ‘realistic’ and now they’re as simple as can be. Today we have come to the next step. We need to simplify the user actions, take away the need to download yet another app and learn to use its interface.

Take banking apps. If I want to send my wife €20, I have to log in to the app, and swipe my way through 5 or more screens until getting to the actual action of sending the money. This takes time, and what we all want most of all is to save time. So how can we make this payment action more efficient? Chatbots.

Time to welcome chatbots in your messaging apps

What app do we spend most of our time in? Chances are high your answer will be Whatsapp, or Messenger, or maybe Slack, Skype or Snapchat. Messaging apps are very commonplace for most people, so why don’t businesses just offer their services within these messaging apps?

Talk to the Uber bot to order a taxi. Ask KLM to check you in for your flight in a couple of hours. Ask your bank to make a payment of €20 to your wife. This is where the future lies. Here’s why:

  • Everybody can send messages, and that includes older people.
  • You don’t need to download anything.
  • Chatbots are really light (we’re talking kilobytes). In a world where Facebook is for example using drones to get everyone in the world access to the internet, this is essential.

In Asia chatbots are actively being used in WeChat and this is probably where our own messaging apps are also heading. It takes some getting used to, but once you embrace chatbots, you won’t be able to imagine a world without them.