Developing Mobile Apps: Focus on Features, Not Ratings
Do you work on an app team that desperately wants to have a five-star app? If so, you are chasing the wrong goal.
This is an arbitrary and absolute measure. Relative measures of quality are better because they can be adapted to your own situation. Instead of asking “How can we get five stars?” you should be asking “How can we get more stars than the competition?”
Consider two popular apps, Dictionary.com and Clash of Clans, which each has a 4.6-star rating in the Google Play Store. What does it mean that they share the same rating? Nothing. They are completely different types of apps.
Viewing the quality problem through a competitive lens helps reveal the important factors you need to consider. When it comes to users, different categories have different sets of requirements. For example, users tend to rate productivity apps based on usability and content characteristics, whereas users of finance apps rate them based on security, privacy, and performance characteristics.
App store reviews can provide valuable insight. One five-star review of the Dictionary.com app from September 22, 2016, states: “... I do have another dictionary app which is totally offline and no advertisement to annoy you but I still rate this one as 5* because everyday I log in just to read the word of the day.” In this case, special content is important enough to overcome any issues stemming from lack of offline access. In general, analyzing the competition’s app ratings, review, design, and performance will help you understand which features are most important.
Unfortunately, there’s an infinite number of features you can build or issues you can fix. You could focus on refining design, updating content, improving performance, or fixing bugs. The app development lifecycle remains incredibly manual and labor-intensive, so the art is to identify what to do first.
Once you will know where your app is strong or weak compared to others, rather than fixing everything at once, you can iteratively add features over time. This is one reason modern and agile mobile app teams release updates so frequently.
As long as you focus on making your app better today than it was yesterday, you’ll be on your way to getting five stars—or at least more stars than you had before.