A lot has been said about how educational apps help students. And you probably would not be going for educational software development services if there was no demand for such apps, so surely they carry some meaningful benefits for users. However, this is not the subject of today’s article. The subject is how to improve user experience with your app so that both users and you can benefit from it even more.
You will find this post useful if:
- You have an educational app developed and feel it is time to scale;
- You are looking for ways to improve your eLearning app MVP once the first milestones are achieved;
- The app launched not as successfully as expected;
- You want to find out what may be critical for your users that you may not notice.
An important note. All suggestions to improve educational mobile app you see below are only valid if the app’s quality is already good. By quality, we mean technical execution, i.e. whether the code is clean. The app may have not justified your expectations because of bugs, and these have to be eliminated before any further improvements are made. If you are concerned about your app’s code quality, request a code audit from professionals.
End of the note.
Table of contents
- Why mobile learning apps fail
- Factors that negatively affect user retention
- Ideas how to improve eLearning application
- Final takeaways
Why mobile learning apps fail
The possible industry-specific reasons for unsuccessful launch and high bounce rate are:
Too much gamification. Yes, we listed gamification among the important education app features and do not go back on our words. Gamification in eLearning remains a great motivator, but only when game elements do not distract users from the subject matter. If we’re not speaking about apps for pre-school education, tasks and new information have to be the main focus all the way through, not characters’ story lines, quests, and plot development.
No repetition of material. Knowledge is grasped best when repeated regularly. For example, if we are referring to a language learning app, new words should be introduced and remain in vocabulary, not disappear from sight once learned. Only this way, memorizing can be assured. Otherwise, the app will be of no help to users, and seeing no effect, they can simply abandon it.
No progress tracking. Some users find it important to track their results. It is more clear from statistics than from personal impressions whether they are moving steadily to the goal or something is hampering their advancement. Users download educational apps with a goal in mind, and the purpose of progress tracking is to justify their expectations from the app.
No onboarding. If the app suggests original functionality that needs to be explained, onboarding upon installation is essential. Make it concise, clear, and available any moment — the latter is a must since over 50% of users skip the unboarding step thus may want to get back to it later. Do your best for users not to feel confused and to put most of their effort into learning instead of figuring out how the app works.
Factors that negatively affect user retention
Other than bugs, which goes without saying, there are more things that many users can’t accept.
Low loading speed. Playing with users’ patience does no good for business. In many cases, heavy animations and extensive memory usage are unreasonable. In an ideal scenario, an app should be ready to use within 2 seconds after the shortcut is clicked.
Too many ads. Although most people are used to ad banners, it is hard to stay loyal to ads if they appear too frequently and block elements of the user interface (UI). Overly annoying ads can turn away the most patient users. We are not suggesting you turn down all advertising, it is about being moderate about showing it and looking at the experience with the app from the perspective of a human.
Too elaborate app structure. The path from point A to point B should not imply several additional steps in between. Always opt for the optimal, i.e. the shortest way to the target action.
The app drains battery. Charging a phone is pretty much everyone’s daily routine because modern devices do not allow otherwise, however, discovering the battery is almost drained after 1 hour of exercising might be disappointing for many users. For some, it may even be a reason to abandon the app (or purchase a new smartphone, which does not guarantee the problem solution).
Ideas how to improve eLearning application
The points above may have sounded disturbing but still, not all app improvements should be motivated by these or other irritating factors. They can simply be added with the intention to introduce new and helpful features to users, so in addition to solutions to the listed problems, we will share ideas for overall improvement of your e-learning app.
Optimize app performance
Loyalty of users grows as app loading speed decreases, which requires optimizing the app performance.
- Resize and compress images if they can yet be resized and compressed with no drop in quality;
- Enable image caching for faster loading of screens;
- Make sure the app is well adapted for all screen sizes and resolutions;
- Reduce your app’s memory use if possible.
Provide advanced statistics for all sides
Achieving good stats is not a goal per se for students but a nice little touch to your e-learning app. Statistics is satisfying to look at and is inspiring users to keep on learning. What kinds of stats can be collected in an educational app:
- Days of learning in a row;
- Position on the leaderboard;
- Percent of correctly answered questions per topic;
- Grades drilldown.
These and other stats can be communicated to students in the form of push notifications.
Not students alone will appreciate the stats. Teachers can also benefit from automated data collection — for example, to overview the performance of the entire class and have students requiring a more personalized approach highlighted.
Take care of students’ health and comfort
Contrary to traditional learning at a classroom desk when teachers usually remark upon students’ posture or sometimes conduct warm-ups, using mobile apps for education requires no specific environment, meaning that students can learn in their own bed staying immobile for hours or missing the necessary breaks. Which, of course, is not good for their health. How can you show you care?
Add reminders for students to get a little exercise or do eye gymnastics that appear every hour;
Introduce customized timers or some popular time management techniques, like pomodoro technique;
Tune up accessibility so that visually impaired students can freely use your app;
Extend UI capabilities by adding a dark theme and a warmer filter for the screen which are critical for educational platforms as they help eyes get less tired.
Integrate social media
Mostly, students and especially their parents see social media as an obstacle to concentrated learning. This makes sense given the take that the more time students spend on social media, the poorer is their academic performance. Maybe it’s better to avoid generalization and try seeing good sides even to such demonized matter as social media.
- Enable sharing results on social networks as some users will be happy to show off their achievements;
- Allow inviting friends from social media via sending them an invitation link;
- Promote your app’s social media pages where you can post announcements, share events and photos and any other themed content.
Analyze user behavior
Sometimes the answers to why users delete the app are unobvious to the naked eye. There are a multitude of tools in the market that enable you to follow the user paths, from heat map analyzers to session recorders.
Analysis of user behavior will help you answer the important question of whether there are any bottlenecks in your app. The bottlenecks are the spots where users get stuck and consequently leave. If there are any, it is possible that your app UI needs revision or, in the case you started big, some features turn out unnecessary and are better be cut down.
In addition, you can run a survey among people who never used your app to get opinions on what they find frustrating about it. Also, we met appreneurs on Reddit asking the community to roast their apps, and the feedback they receive is mostly very open.
Don’t forget marketing
An app, no matter how good it is, needs to be marketed. Ad campaigns, social media marketing (SMM) and app store optimization (ASO) are the usuals for launching any kind of app, elearning are no exception. Still, while the goal of most marketing campaigns is to attract more new users and gain more downloads, as much attention should be paid to increasing loyalty of the existing audience. Positive feedback, recommendations and user-generated content (UGC) are priceless.
How to improve elearning app engagement via marketing?
Generate push messages for users who somehow stopped using the app but still have it installed; notify them about events or updates for re-engagement;
Personalize ad campaigns so that users see more targeted offers. Traffic analysis will allow you to perform audience segmentation to specify user characteristics and interests.
Grow multi-platform capabilities
With elearning, it is crucial that the platform is accessible both in the subway on the way to school and from the home computer. One platform is enough to start with but as your app grows, users will expect more multi-platform capabilities. It’s no secret that having an app developed for mobile and web doubles its odds to be noticed.
If you want an app to be a part of users’ routine for a long, long time, then you need to update it and keep the audience hooked. Starting an app business is playing the long game so it’s absolutely natural that new features and improvements are introduced over time.
Just a few more things to highlight at the end.
Again, no new features should be added to a bugged app — eventually, it may cause more serious problems that are expensive to fix. Every new feature has to undergo Quality Assurance (QA) before it’s out.
Just because some feature is trendy doesn’t mean your users need it. Before starting to improve your elearning application, it’s nice to collect opinions of users — for example, on social media platforms or through an in-app form.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if any questions remain. A company with 20+ years of experience in education software development, we are excited to help you with improving your app to make learning easier for everybody.