As we race head-first into the new year, we thought it might be a good idea to check in with some of the major players in the world of app-making. With mobile trends from design, to emerging technologies like beacons, find out what they think’s in store for 2016.
CEO & Co-Founder
Social Media Manager
BH: The main trend we’ve seen in previous years will continue into 2016: apps slowly replacing the web. We can already see app deep linking as a common behaviour in apps made by the same publisher. Facebook is a prime example of this; content from one app is linked to the content of another, increasing the user experience dramatically. An increasing number of developers are allowing linking inside their apps.
RS: I think we’ll be seeing a more customer-focused approach with the emphasis on user experience and engagement. Push notifications will play a major role in 2016, and we’re not talking here about regular, massive push notifications. I’m talking about specifically targeted push messages and beacons to deliver accurate messages in a precise place to the right user.
JG: In 2016, I expect promising trends in app indexing and app streaming. App indexing will become more mainstream, allowing end users to better find content available in apps, just by making requests in their favorite search engine. Google is experimenting with app streaming, which will solve the app installation barrier. It's still limited and very experimental but what is expected from this innovation is huge.
BH: I see two trends for app makers. Platforms like AppYourself are mainly designed for SMBs. From our experience these companies prefer to work with as few service providers as possible for all their marketing activities. Managing their website with one platform, and the app with another, means extra time and effort. Content updates have to be done twice for example. For this reason AppYourself offers a complete online solution for SMBs, consisting of an app, a mobile website and a desktop website. Our customers can manage their complete online presence with one dashboard on one platform.
Secondly, the demand for business apps is growing rapidly. SMBs are increasingly recognizing the advantages of having their own app. The direct contact to their customers’ most important device is a golden nugget. For small businesses it really is the best customer loyalty medium ever invented. A customer who has installed an app on his or her smartphone has much more value than a ‘like’ on Facebook. In addition to this, technologies like beacons are crouched in the starting blocks and, once they get going, they will dramatically change communication between businesses and consumers.
A customer who has installed an app on his or her smartphone has much more value than a ‘like’ on Facebook
JG: Successful apps are more and more vertical apps, serving one purpose, and serving it very well. Business owners now have a better understanding of what an app can bring to their business, and they know that what was only possible for big players yesterday, is now possible for the rest of us. People who create apps today know precisely in which part of their conversion funnel the app will play a key role. The app is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, it becomes an important asset for every business owner.
On the end user's side, to have the right to be on his/her phone, the app must be perfect. The bar is now very high in terms of UX and added value. This is because your app is competing with big players, who put a lot of R&D into their product, even if you're not is the same market. In short, people that have a great user experience in Twitter or Facebook, will expect the same quality with your app. That's why I think we are going to have some blockbuster apps on our phones, used by billions of people, but also some apps reserved to the niche we belong to.
RS: App makers will stay on the current path, but will need to make sure to approach potential users in the right way. Although we’re seeing improvement and rising mobile awareness, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. Here at Shoutem, we have a clear vision for 2016 – we don’t want to simply be a mobile app maker provider, we want to be partners with our clients and build long-term relationships. We will focus on the education of our users, on how can they successfully maintain and sell apps, and boost user engagement.
The majority of users will still be SMBs and large companies – they are looking for a perfect digital tool to be with their customers/users wherever they go. But we don’t want to limit ourselves to only them. We want to give the opportunity to everyone to build their dream app, from students for school projects, to business owners, or elders who wish to find their interest group.
JG: I think we should now consider design trends in general, not only app design trends, because as you may have noticed in 2015, we see more and more app design concepts being used on websites (like the hamburger menu, for instance). The frontier between web, responsive web and app design becomes blurred.
I think in 2016, we will see the standardisation of some UI patterns. People are used to interacting in a certain way with those elements, inventing something new would be misleading for the user.
That being said, in term of design trends, I think the direction will move towards uncluttered interfaces and minimalistic pages, highly focused on UX. I think the trend will follow the spirit of what we have been seeing for a year or so with Google’s Material Design, and before that, with flat design.
BH: Minimalistic design is beautiful. Apple leads the way with their App Design Guidelines for developers. Therefore the trends of minimalistic app designs, and a focus on UX, will continue in 2016.
RS: In my opinion, 2016 trends will bring us less visible changes, while a lot of work will be done “under the hood”. Specifically, designers will try to optimize UI performances of mobile apps to work and respond faster, use data to inform UX decisions with data-informed design over data-driven design. We could probably see less and less usage of the Hamburger icon even though there's a lot of hamburger supporters out there 🙂
BH: For the next Apple iPhone 7 release. Other than that I’m looking forward to seeing how the “The Four Horsemen” (Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook) will force the launch and success of beacon technology. That will be an exciting year for hyperlocal technologies and the ‘Internet of Things’.
JG: In 2016, the thing I’m looking forward to most is providing new solutions to empower app makers to create even better mobile experiences. App builders are now, more than ever, a good choice for building an app, but the app is just a part of a bigger picture. What I'm looking forward to is helping draw this bigger picture with an app building platform. This is our focus this year with projects like GoodBarber Open Product, where we give the source code of our native engines to let developers build on top of what we have already created.
RS: I just can’t wait, like the rest of the Shoutem team, to show you what we’ve been working on for the last couple of months! There will be a lot of improvements in current modules, as well as added features and modules, and some brand new things. But that’s all I can say for now – you just need to be a little patient to find out more.
Do you think these ideas are on point? Have anything else you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments below.