What Characteristics are Common to the Most Successful Apps?

Digital startups related to mobile development may have different goals: getting a source of profit, maintaining the company's image, increasing customer loyalty, and more. But success is a prerequisite in any case… though, a lot of businessmen take it almost for granted. However, you need to step up your efforts to achieve the desired. 

And here logical questions arise: what are the characteristics of winning mobile apps? How can one make these solutions bring the expected benefits to their owners?

Interested in answers? Then we suggest reading our article. We've analyzed the most popular mobile applications and are ready to share our findings with you. 

Latest mobile app market statistics 

According to Statista, in 2020 the annual income in the app market will have exceeded $189 billion. Such an impressive indicator is explained by simple arithmetic: the number of mobile users continues to grow, and the profit they bring is growing as well.

successful app

But what about the most popular application types? What does 2020 promise us?

  • All sorts of mobile aggregators are most likely to head the list of top apps. The content they collect from different resources can vary: from prices for goods or services and world news to niche messages and travel information. 

  • Games, too, are at the height of fame, they still belong to the most downloaded apps. And as experts at App Annie claim, mobile game developers will pay special attention to the cross-platform issue in 2020. This, in turn, should positively affect the app demand by making the game process more convenient and enjoyable.

  • Non-gaming entertainment applications also attract a precious sight of users: according to statistics, these apps now bring ten times more revenue in comparison with previous years. And the first item on the list is America's Netflix streaming media corporation, followed by Chinese Tencent Video and IQIYI.

  • Among the shopping programs, there are many successful apps either: they’re being downloaded three times more often than several years ago.  Market leaders haven’t changed from 2018-19: Amazon, Wish, AliExpress.

  • Demand for health & fitness apps remains high, but “floating”: different healthcare programs are popular at different times, from online counters of drunk water to programs aimed at controlling blood pressure or heart rate. The market is very competitive, and it’s not easy to single out leaders: all applications are quite popular.

characteristics of winning mobile apps


  • Financial applications, especially banking services and payment systems, are becoming more popular year by year. In 2019, the number of downloads exceeded 3.6 billion.

most downloaded apps


Winning characteristics of successful mobile applications

Successful businessmen achieve their goals by analyzing the situation from the very beginning and determining what they should take care of in the first place in order to win. And in the case of digital projects, they have to consider the main characteristics of great mobile apps or cool websites. Let's do the same!

Latest mobile app market statistics 
You have an app idea but you don’t know where to start implementing it, right? Our tips might come in handy! Click here and read them.

Great UI for great mobile apps

If you want to create a successful app, start with its design, or rather with the program interface. Do your best to build a product able to be competitive in this respect (although it's better to be competitive in every sense).


By the by, why is the UI component so important for the mobile app experience?

  • Visual perception. We perceive the world through our eyes (naturally!), and therefore it’s logical to assume that product design plays a paramount role.

  • The company face. The brand consists of various components including the UI, the design of which should be done in a single corporate style.

  • Ease of use. A competently created design doesn't mean "candy-box beauty", it's more about ease of use, which is the main task of the application.

And speaking of ease of use, let’s specify key usability characteristics of mobile apps. What should an excellent interface design look like?

  • Clarity. The app interface should help the user search for the information he needs, make purchases, book a certain service, etc. (the targeted action depends on the application type). That’s why the UI mustn’t leave a user a single chance to get lost or be confused.

  • Visual expressiveness. As we've said earlier, we enjoy dealing with beautiful things, and the app interface is no exception.

  • Modernity. And, of course, the UI shouldn't look outdated, which means you have to follow the latest trends in web and mobile design.

Great UI for great mobile apps
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High performance

A cool design is good, but if the application is slow, then we can hardly expect it to be successful, agree? So be sure to develop a strong mobile app with both an impressive UI and high performance.

The concept of high performance implies the following:

  • Good adaptation to possible high loads;

  • Fast loading;

  • Stable work (the program should neither crash nor hang).

User's needs come first

The next item on the list of characteristics of a successful app is an orientation to the target audience, to its problems. Taking care of the user should be your preferred strategy.

2 main aspects must be taken into account:

  1. Research at the project start. Before you proceed to create your mobile platform, do research on user preferences. Say, what must-have features of mobile apps would your user like most? Which of his problems do you solve, which desires are you going to satisfy?

  2. Active support after launching the application. Suppose your app appeared in Google Play and App Store. Do you think your work is finished? Not at all, now your task is to maintain your service, which implies, among other things, user support: keeping in touch with users, answering their questions, responding to their requests, and so on.

Wise app monetization strategy

As we often repeat, the app's purpose is to bring profit to its owner. Even if the application has been created as a digital representation of the company and serves mainly its business reputation, it can still make money. All the top apps are profitable.

However, when thinking about the best monetization strategy, try not to annoy the user. Intrusive ads supplemented by an abundance of in-app purchases and subscription requirements would make anyone lose his patience.

But let’s say a few words about each monetization model, separately.

In-app advertising

According to recent data, users are no longer so willing to pay for subscriptions or in-app purchases. People who spend more than $50 while using the programs now bring 17% less money. That's why in the near future about 60% of winning mobile apps will be mainly monetized through advertising (mainly doesn't mean 100%, of course).

You can follow the example of market leaders, but it's advisable to take into account several factors (and believe us, apps in the top do take them into account!):

  • a new approach to advertising. Previously, when creating ads, the emphasis was on showiness and even glamour, which required considerable expenses. Now the cost price has decreased, and the focus is on catchy images and unique stories.

  • a FAIL effect. Increasingly, most popular mobile apps are being monetized with ads based on mini-games. Moreover, such a game should end in a loss: the  FAIL inscription makes the user want to win and download the advertised application.

  • From CPI to CPM. Experts believe that ad networks can expect to increase their cost-per-click. But to achieve this, one needs to move from the CPI model (Cost Per Install) to the CPM model (Cost Per Mile or Cost Per Thousand Impression).

In-app purchases

Despite all of the aforesaid, advertising is by no means the only way to make money on digital projects. In-app purchases are still relevant, just make sure you don’t overdo it or become obsessive.

By the by, this monetization model is especially well suited to entertaining applications: according to statistics, the main share of users’ in-app expenses falls on games (75%). It is the players who don't mind buying artifacts, spending money to open new game levels, etc. 

Subscription or Freemium

Since, as we’ve mentioned above, users are now less willing to shell out, it's not advisable to make the application fully paid, such an approach is bad for the success of apps. A convenient format is the Freemium model when a key set of features is available to everyone, but exclusive ones require some costs. That is, you allow users to take advantage of your program for free and offer additional, albeit optional, paid functionality.

The impact of regular updates on the success of apps
Before thinking about app monetization, you need to decide on the development budget. Our article will enlighten you on the issue.

The impact of regular updates on the success of apps

If you ask what characteristics make apps successful in the long run, we won't be able to list the features that will help you always stay on top. Sooner or later, everything becomes outdated and loses relevance, and therefore you need to think about continuous app development to fit the times. The release of application updates on an ongoing basis is the main thing to do in this regard.

Updates include:

  • attention to app crashes and timely bug fixing;

  • further work on the app functionality according to user reviews;

  • keeping the app trending.

Do you want to have your app timely updated? We can help you! Order our services.
Do you want to have your app timely updated? We can help you! Order our services.
Do you want to have your app timely updated? We can help you! Order our services.

How and where to get app awards

Let's say you managed to implement most of the characteristics of a winning mobile application in your program, what next? Who to contact for the long-awaited award?

  • The Best Mobile App Awards (The BMAA). The history of the award, which today is considered the most high-class and prestigious, began in 2012. Getting the BMAA is a great achievement, it helps the winner join the number of market leaders, apps at the top of various lists. In 2019, the owners of the BMAA platform paid attention to the UI, an original approach to design, as well as usability, in awarding.

  • The Art Directors Club of Europe Awards. As the name suggests, the award is focused on the European market and deals mainly with design. Such categories as advertising of all formats, graphics, web creativity, mobile design, packaging, etc., are on the radar of those presenting the award.

  • Apple Design Awards. As you understand, here we're only talking about applications running on iOS platforms. And that's no small: in the end, having received such an award, you can hope to see your mobile service among the best and most successful apps in the App Store.

winning mobile apps


Summary: how to build a winning mobile app?

We offer a brief summary of all of the above and a couple of final tips:

  1. Clear interface. We've already discussed the mobile apps' usability characteristics, but let’s repeat the essence: if your application is easy to work with (namely, if it has a clear interface), the probability of attracting more users might be significantly increased. So simplicity and clarity are exactly what UI design should be aimed at. 

  2. Thorough data analysis based on machine learning. Such an approach helps to properly target your audience and attract the attention of interested users, and at the very right time.

  3. A lot of experiments and updates. Analyze user behavior and feedback, develop and improve your application. By the way, if you resort to A/B testing, you'll be able to see how the changes made have affected the conversion rate.

  4. New approaches and unique formats. If in the process of upgrading and testing you come up with an original approach to the application design or functionality, take the risk to implement your idea: unusual digital solutions often lead to the creation of winning mobile apps.

  5. Smart monetization strategy. And, of course, don’t forget about the profitability of your project. Choose the best monetization model and make sure it really works.

Following these simple tips, you'll be able to build a winning mobile application and start your successful business without delay.

How and where to get app awards
Do you want to create a successful application generating sustainable profit? We know what to consider to make it happen. Let's collaborate!


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