You decided that developing an app was a good idea for your mobile presence. Understandable since apps make up the largest share of time spent on smartphones, and smartphone usage in the US now exceeds web usage. So it looks like you made a good decision, right? Not so fast. Studies show that consumers often delete an app as quickly as they download it. As more apps hit the market, and customer usage rises, consumers are looking for excellent performance, customer service, and long term value. So option one: try to make your app fit all of these expectations, keyword being try. Option two: focus on user retention through constant interaction. The key is finding an app re-engagement tool that brings users back on a regular basis so that they don’t delete your app. Welcome to widgets.
There are three main types of widgets: information, collection, and control. Information widgets display elements that are important to the user like a clock widget or a score tracker widget. Collection widgets display multiple elements of the same type such as a collection of the most recent news articles from a news app. Control widgets display the most often used functions that can be triggered from the home screen without having to first open the app. For example, a music app widget that allows the user to play music without having to open the app. The majority of apps are hybrid apps, centering the widget around one base type, then adding other elements as needed. So why does this matter? If understand the different types of widgets, you can see why adding widgets to your app may help with user retention. Whatever type of widget you use, the important part is where the widget sits. Because it is on the home screen, and provides regularly updated information, the user is constantly exposed to your app. Also, the widgets provide just enough information that they encourage the user to click through and re-enter the app. For example, a news app widget may just show the most current headlines on your home screen. You see the headline and want to read the full story, so you tap on the notification and now you are re-entering the news app. Another good example is a sports app widget. The widget may just show the most recent scores for your favorite team, but you want to read more about what actually happened in the game and you re-enter the sports app to do this. It is easy to see how these widgets help with customer retention by encouraging users to constantly re-enter the app. Not to mention, if a user likes having this information readily available on their home screen, or even if they just become used to having it there, they are less likely to delete the app.
What do you do if your app is not readily conducive to adding widgets? In actuality, any app can lend itself to adding a widget. Case in point, NatureCast, available through Chromecast. This app can be used to display different nature pictures, a bit like a screen saver. You may think that this type of app would not lend itself to using a widget, but it actually could. If you added a widget that sat on the user’s home screen and scrolled a select few thumbnails of nature pictures, the user would constantly be reminded that they have access to this app. It keeps the app in the forefront of the users mind and is more likely to be used.
Bottom line, if you developed an app, you can use widgets to increase user retention. In today’s market, you have to find a way to differentiate your app and keep it front and center for users. Widgets help you do this.