Think back to when you were a child. The world was full of wonder and intrigue and almost everything was exciting and new. However, as you grow up reality hits you like a ton of bricks, and you tend to lose some of that sense of excitement and wonder. But some things don’t need to be boring and devoid of wonder, like mobile apps. That is why I’m announcing my run for president of the App Fun Committee (which I’ll probably need to found). I also have a very original and clever slogan: Make Apps Fun Again. I definitely did not pillage that slogan from another presidential candidate.
I must admit though, most things excite me, like pop-up sprinklers, LEGO and the car keys that flip open. However, even I tend to lose that wonder after using boring and lifeless websites and apps. There are necessary things that we have to do, like taxes, banking and chores, but why do these things have to be boring? Why not spice them up and make them fun to use? Gamification can definitely help in this regard but it’s not necessary to make an app fun to use.
I wish I could give you the “10 steps to making an app really fun to use”, but I can’t. There is no formula for making an app fun or enjoyable to use. However, I can list 5 things to focus on that can help to make apps a lot more enjoyable.
5 ways to make apps more fun
1. Make your app easy to use, both for new and returning users
Having an intuitive and clean user interface can help to guide a user around the app. Also, it’s important to have a “help” section in case people get lost. Airbnb is an app that allows people to rent out their homes, flats and guesthouses. Users can then browse, view and book these places, all in a short amount of time. I personally love using this app and often spend a lot of time just looking through the listings. I feel excited after browsing through listings, especially after I’ve found a unique or interesting place to stay at for a great price.
2. Add interesting or novel interactivity to your app
Tinder, the very popular online dating app, has a fun way to interact with potential matches. The main screen on the Tinder app displays the profile of a potential match with a profile picture, their first name and their age. To “like” that person, you swipe right. If you don’t want to match with that person, you swipe left. It may sound like a gimmick but it’s engaging when you’re using it.
3. Use colourful and interesting visual elements in your app to make it more appealing
Waze, the app that makes navigating through traffic bearable, uses fun, cartoony icons to represent each user in the app. When actively navigating through traffic, you can see the icons of people around you in the traffic. You can also interact with your friends by sending them a “beep beep”, which pops up on the side with their profile picture. Obstacles, police sightings and warnings are also displayed on the map with their own colourful icons. This makes it easy to see what is happening where, especially when you should be concentrating on what’s in front of you.
4. Add game elements to your app
The app Habitica takes the difficult task of forming good, long-lasting habits and turns it into a game. It’s essentially a role-playing adventure game mixed with a to-do list. It may sound silly, but it’s rather engaging and fun in practice. You earn coins for tasks completed, which you can use to level up your character and buy new outfits. You can also complete challenges with friends. You will end up forming positive habits, while having fun at the same time.
5. Include social interaction and friendly competition
This can be a great motivator when used effectively. The app Fitbit tracks your daily steps, heart rate and sleeping patterns, based on data received from a Fitbit wearable device. The app looks great and has a lot of easy to understand and informative graphs showing you all your personal stats for the last day, week and month. However, one reason that I really enjoyed using it was that it showed me how many steps my friends had done. There’s a weekly leaderboard to see which friend achieved the most steps. One may think that this would be demotivating, but it actually encourages friendly rivalry and motivates you to do more.
The apps mentioned above are fun and engaging for different reasons, but all of these features are based on the idea of a good user experience. When using these apps, you don’t feel burdened or feel like using them is a chore. They allow you to enjoy what you’re doing and they make mundane tasks addictive and enjoyable. The “fun factor” of an app should never take away from the core purpose of the app, but when it’s used to add value to your app, it can give your app the edge it needs to be the best.
If you want to make apps that are fun, contact us.