How to stop users from uninstalling your apps

How to stop users from uninstalling your apps

I came across an article recently that tried to tackle the increasing trend of people uninstalling apps that they don’t use on a daily basis. The article lists some relevant and valid challenges that we face when trying to get users to retain our mobile apps. Essentially:

  1. Forced Social logins: No consumer likes these, and I don’t think that they ever have. On paper they seem excellent in that a user can login to your service without needing to create a whole new account. The problems unfortunately is this service has been plagued with a lack of trust. When ever a user is hit with a social login request they are often paralyzed with the fear that the app will be able to then control their Facebook account. They then back away from the login screen and the app has lost a potential user. The case of social logins is unfortunately one of misinformation and lost opportunities.  The idea has become tainted and imbedded in the average users minds and should therefore be avoided.
  2. Privacy concerns: This reason can also be shared with the app stores. They enforce stringent requirements when informing users of exactly what an app is capable of that often scare user off. As an example, the app I made for Make Web Not War, using IdeaPress, requires: “the ability to modify and delete content from your storage” and “full network access.” Now a lot of people will understand that this simply means that the app needs to save content to your phone and access the internet to get more content. The problem is that there are also a lot of users who won’t understand that and will avoid downloading an app if there are too many requirements that they do not understand.
  3. Intrusive ads: I have a game on my phone called “Galaxy on Fire 2”, which I have paid for. I’ve even bought an expansion because I love playing it so much. Despite these purchases however, every time I open up the in-game store, I’m faced with a full screen ad that always seems to pop-up just as I’m touching the screen. This then leads to me leaving the app and getting taken to the store to by some useless item that I never wanted. In-app ads are ok if your app is free, but if someone has already paid for your app, then let them have a white-label experience!
  4. Bad user interface: One of the more obvious points of this list, which can be solved with a simple addition in the development process: BETA testing! Putting out an app in the store without testing it out on some average users is a recipe for disaster! When you’re developing an app and think that you are ready to launch, make sure that you send it out to a few members of the public who have no development experience whatsoever. This is to ensure that you get feedback on your apps interface from the perspective of actual users and not just developers.
  5. Complex registration: The whole point of an app is to make a process simpler for its users. If you end up with a login process that is more complicated than 1 or two steps, then you’re missing the whole point of an app. A mobile user does not have the patience of a desktop user. By very definition, a mobile user has better things to do then go through a 10 step process to use your app. Please, make it easier for them!
  6. Too-many notifications: Notifications started out as a way to push truly important information to users. This information included details related to payment, subscriptions or information that the user “had” to know. Now a days, notifications can actually make your app a target for uninstalling. Simply put, if your app is sending too many notifications that are of no use, you’re actually making your app a target to be uninstalled.


Now that we know the top reasons for apps being uninstalled, it’s time to target the source of these problems which is the perceived value and the value that you bring users through your app. Lets take the example of a flashlight app for smartphones. These apps were all the rage when smartphones came out and yet nowadays they are hardly ever used! The reason for this is that most people are fine just turning their phone on in the dark and using their home screens to light the way. Here, the value of the app was that it let you gain the maximum brightness possible from your phone, but the perceived gain in value from the user’s point of view was minimal compared to the light that their home screens provided. Pile onto that the effort that they have to put int to find the app in their app drawers then turn it on, as well as the annoyance of those push notifications and ads that they keep getting from the app and you end up with an app that provides little to no value to the user with a high “cost” in terms of annoyance and effort.

This is the recipe for having your apps uninstalled. So you made an app that does something a little bit better than the alternative? That’s not good enough! People don’t buy a new car every time a new model comes out just because it has “2014” in the name and people won’t download a new app because it adds a new feature they don’t really care about.

The best way to stop your app from getting uninstalled is to take a good hard look at the perceived value that it brings to its users and to expand and improve upon that value.

See you guys next time!

Mathieu Dubuc

Posted in Technical
One comment on “How to stop users from uninstalling your apps
  1. Vat21s says:

    This. So true…

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