9 Features to Include in Your Next Mobile App

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As a software developer, Northsail understands just how valuable it is in today's landscape to be able to offer versatile, convenient solutions for clients, in order to build trust and long-term customer relationships.

For example, our clients know that they can always trust Northsail to deliver our projects on-time, on-spec, and on-budget, which is why we have such great long-standing relationships with our former project partners.

For businesses that are just starting out, you might have spent some time wondering whether you should get a mobile app for your business.

But before you start your build, you need to spend some time thinking about what mobile app features you want to include in your final product. We've got some tips to help you get started, but before that, let's cover some of the basics.

What is a Mobile Application?

A mobile application or 'app' as they're much more commonly called, is any type of software application that's designed specifically to work on portable, wireless digital devices.

Everything from smart phones, tablets, smart watches, and even VR/AR headsets could be considered a mobile device, and they each have apps that function on their respective platforms.

Some apps are meant to work on a wide variety of digital devices (i.e., ecommerce apps, GPS and mapping programs, social media platforms, etc.), while others are confined to a single type of device for use (i.e., VR video games, smart watch apps, AR glasses apps, etc.).

SIDE NOTE: For the sake of clarity, this page's recommendations are tailored heavily towards customer-facing applications from retail/ecommerce/SaaS businesses.

App Features vs Mobile Features

The definition of an app feature is a feature that's included in a mobile application. This means it needs to be downloaded in order to be accessed.

Mobile features, on the other hand, could be features that are usable on any mobile device, which means that they have a lot more accessibility than app features, because they may be available without having to download a third-party application.

Many features aren't exclusive to one or the other (i.e., digital clocks, calendar features, etc.), because some essential features are built right into their operating systems to provide the highest quality user experience from day one.

We could provide a list of potential app features, but it could never be exhaustive. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of different features; all with unique functionality.

Rather than discuss features that may not mean anything for you, let's dive into 9 must-have features that we think you should definitely consider for your next mobile app.

9 Features that You Need for Your Next Mobile App:

1.) Built-in Metrics Trackers

As we've said before, you can't improve the metrics that you're not tracking.

Taking the time to build in tracking features. which allow you to easily collect key metrics from your consumer base, can help you learn a lot about your target audience.

Everything from conversion rates to monitoring which areas draw the highest/lowest levels of user engagement can help you continue to improve both your mobile app, as well as your overall business practices.

Think of it as built-in user feedback, without having to ask.

2.) Display Your Social Media Platforms

We live in a world that's driven by social media; especially businesses that work in ecommerce and retail. A bit of positive word-of-mouth can go a long way towards convincing potential users to give your brand a chance.

Social media users are often very excited to share both good and bad experiences with their chosen brands, particularly when brands make their social pages easy to find.

Good feedback is a great way to sway potential customers towards giving your brand a shot. But there's something to be said for the benefits of negative feedback as well.

If you go out of your way to address negative feedback and maintain the highest levels of customer satisfaction possible, other consumers are going to see your brand in a more favorable light.

We all know that situations arise, and sometimes, even with our best intentions, customers face issues with business services. It's how the business responds to real customers and their issues that demonstrates how much you truly care about your brand's customer experience.

3.) Include a Search Feature

This suggestion is geared towards brands that have a large collection of products or services that they're offering, which consumers have to spend time navigating.

Building in a simple search feature can dramatically improve your app functionality in the minds of your app users. If consumers have downloaded your application, the hope is that they'll be coming back to your business in the future for repeated business. Otherwise, why bother downloading an app, right?

If you keep that mindset, you have to remember that a substantial portion of your user base are going to be existing, loyal customers. Building in a search feature means that they can spend less time browsing through the site, over and over, and can get right to the things they want.

It's great to get people to explore everything that your app has to offer, but it should never come at the cost of convenience.

4.) Offer Multiple Mobile Payment Options

This might seem like a no-brainer, but if you've got products to sell or services to purchase, you need to give active users the chance to convert directly through your app.

Different payment gateways will appeal to different types of user preferences, so it's a good idea to try and hit as many marks as possible within your target demographics.

This way, regardless of whether they'd prefer to pay through secure credit card payments, PayPal, Stripe, or any number of other options, you're providing as many reasonable options as possible.

This will not only improve your general user satisfaction, but it will create a seamless user experience that guides consumers comfortably through your sales funnel.

5.) Allow for Interface Customization

Small user customizations within your UX gives your customers the opportunity to customize their application to feel more like it's theirs.

A personalized experience makes the whole app experience much more comfortable and engaging. Given how rare this type of feature is in mobile apps, it can encourage the average smartphone user or tablet owner to download your app, just to explore your customization features.

Remember those metrics we talked about earlier? Well, if you're going to use a customizable interface for your customers, you can track the kinds of changes that they're making to learn more about your user behaviors.

In turn, you can continue to make app upgrades that move your branding and marketing more in line with the kinds of changes your consumers are making on their own.

Priceless marketing insights, provided directly from your user base.

6.) Include Loyalty Program Features

If you don't already have a loyalty program, it's time to seriously think about what your customers could feel they're missing out on.

Not only do loyalty programs encourage repeat business, but they gamify your brand, by giving consumers goals that they can work towards by continuing to support your business through purchases.

It can be extremely helpful for users to be able to access their loyalty program information from your application, such as how many points they've earned, what kind of benefits they can redeem, and how close they are to their next redemption.

Just putting that information on display, and making it readily available for users, helps to continue providing personalized content, while also encouraging more conversions and larger basket sizes.

It's a win for everyone!

7.) Provide an Offline Mode

This is a feature that's often overlooked. Just because a customer may not have data or wifi access to explore your catalogue of products, doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to access some information through your app.

Things like latest purchases, loyalty program information, current deals, and the like can remain in the app's backlog of information, so that consumers can still access that information when they're offline.

Sure, if they haven't been online recently, the information may be slightly out of date, but you can bet that most people would rather see outdated information than be told the app is completely unusable without an internet connection.

Just providing this option can make a huge difference between you and a similar app without this feature, being offered by a competitor.

8.) DON'T Include Unnecessary Features

Nothing can ruin a good experience for mobile app users than an app that's over-cluttered with tons of useless features.

Of course, you want a responsive app design and powerful tools that your users can access while using your application, but some kinds of business apps don't need an excess of built-in features.

Unless it's adding to the app performance, ancillary features can actually detract from your user experience. People don't want to have to scroll or click through features they don't need or want.

Remember: Meaningful features are the same as meaningful content. They need to connect with your users and encourage excitement/engagement; otherwise, they could just be a waste of your time.

9.) Be Available on Both Major App Stores

Cross-platform app development might not always be a viable option; especially if you have very limited resources getting your app developed and on the market. However, it's a good idea, when possible, to create multiple versions of your app for both Apple users and Android users.

There are more types of mobile devices than these too obviously, but let's be fair, these two demographics make up a very sizable portion of the market. And most other devices access one of those two stores (Android more than Apple).

If you want to really meet and exceed your business goals, you need to think about doing everything you can to reach the largest number of potential users as possible.

Having your application available in both app stores means that you can target users on both sides of the fence, and avoid having your brand become associated with a certain type of mobile user.

This means it doesn't matter whether the app owner uses the latest iPhone or Android model, you can cast a net over all the smartphone users in your market.

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