Don’t Underestimate the Power of Little Things:

How Developers Can Avoid App Uninstalls

Someone just downloaded your shiny new app and opened it for the first time. Hurray! They’re excited to play the game, start a new routine to become more productive, set fitness goals, or whatever possibilities this amazing app is about to bring them. Unfortunately, things really don’t work out, and they eventually uninstall the app they were once telling all of their friends about. What happened? Why exactly happened to make the user believe the app wouldn’t bring the joy it once did? More importantly, what can developers do to avoid the dreaded uninstall?


If an app consistently crashes or seems to suffer from numerous flaws, users are likely to uninstall without a second thought. Why would they bother with an app that is laden with bugs when there are so many more apps to choose from? According to Appiterate, “Nothing is as repulsive as crashes and error-prone apps. There is rarely a worse user experience than an app that has to be restarted regularly to do its job.” Yikes! Unfortunately, this can lead to negative reviews, and ultimately, fewer installs overall.

Although there are many reasons that an app ends up in a marketplace with bugs, developers can avoid the consequences often initiated by these mistakes. It’s easy enough for us to say, “test your apps,” but it can be more difficult than it seems when testing needs to take place throughout the development process and on a variety of devices. Developers can’t underestimate the power of having multiple eyes on the app before the release. Take advantage of peer review processes, your family, friends, neighbors, anyone willing to take a few minutes (or days) to thoroughly run through your app.

In-App Purchases

With the recent language change in Apple’s App Store, consumers are becoming more educated on the difference between “free” and “get.” Unfortunately, consumers can be quick to download an app without reading the fine print or even noticing the words “in-app purchases.” While Forbes notes that users are more likely to delete free apps than those they paid for, users also uninstall apps as they hit an in-app barrier they are unwilling to pay their way through.

Revenue is undoubtedly a part of the app development process, even for developers who create apps for the simple joy of development. As the above sentiments indicate, developers walk a fine line by implementing paywalls and in-app purchases. The challenge faced by developers in this situation is to develop in-app purchases that enhance the app without consistently frustrating consumers. Some apps curb this frustration by allowing the paywall to be bypassed via social media and references, while other apps keep the in-app purchases to a minimum altogether.


That’s right; we said it. Sometimes apps just plain annoy their users until the user can’t do anything but uninstall the app for good. The most obvious sources of annoyance are intrusive ads and spam-like notifications. Ads also point us back to the previous reason for uninstalls, in-app purchases. Although many seemingly free apps appear fine and actually free at first, they soon bombard users with ads and slyly let them know that ads can be avoided by playing a simple fee. Similarly, notifications might be innocent enough at first, but at some point users reach a point of saturation, as the app starts to send multiple notifications a day and begs the user to open the app again.

Annoyance may be harder to quantify than some of the other issues mentioned here, and therefore harder to avoid. Developers should use their best judgement in these cases, as there is no magical formula for the number of ads or notifications an app can have. However, this is another case where developers can utilize the resources around them. What does your tester/gamer/mom think? Do you see them rolling their eyes after getting the third notification of the day? Take their body language and feedback into consideration, and remember that user experience is key if you want to retain your existing users.

Failure to Integrate into or Improve Everyday Life

When someone asked the same question we pose here on Quora, utility was mentioned quite frequently. Essentially, these app users claim that they uninstall apps when the app fails to integrate into or improve a person’s everyday life. The app might be too boring, too difficult, or perhaps it just doesn’t meet the expectations of the user. Regardless of the reason, if using the app doesn’t become a habit or seem useful, users will delete it and seek out a replacement.

Pre-launch and even pre-design research can be one solution to this problem. Equipped with factual knowledge about their demographics along with user goals and expectations, developers can create an app that meets the needs of their market instead of forcing a market around their app. Considering new apps are entering an already overcrowded market, the more research and tailoring a developer can do in advance, the better.

There is no reason to underestimate the power of app development and launch details, especially when they can lead to a decrease in revenue and installs. By acknowledging the reasons why consumers delete apps as well as the responsibility to overcome these issues, developers can enter app stores with a strong advantage over competitors.

Authored by Erin Dame, Application Developers Alliance Communications Manager