The Fundamentals of an Addictive App Experience

When you’re developing an app, you can’t help but fantasize about how it will integrate seamlessly into the lives of all its users. It’s going to revolutionize the way people use their devices! It’s going to make all other apps look inferior by comparison! It’s going to change the world!

Then reality strikes: Is anybody going to use this app? What if it just gets crowded out by all the others in the marketplace, and is destined to languish in the depths of the app store forever?

One way to avoid this is to make your app addictive. Here are a few pointers:

Make it easy to use.

Simplicity is key when it comes to app design. You don’t want to overwhelm, annoy, or confuse users, and a clean interface that’s easy to use will always win out over an interface that requires a doctorate to navigate.

In general, people would rather not read (it’s okay, you can admit it!), so make your app intuitive enough that instructions aren’t necessary. Try gamifying your interface to make it easy to understand without being boring or condescending.

Start with the idea, not the app.

If your app is going to be addictive, it needs to be a fun experience that solves a common problem for the user. By creating an engaging solution to an everyday pain, you become an indispensable part of the user’s day. Build your app design around the idea, solution, and value to the user. Soon, using your app becomes second nature for users, which is exactly what being “addictive” is all about.

Don’t overextend yourself.

When you try to excel at a wide range of things, you often spread yourself too thin. As a result you may find your app is so-so at doing many things, as opposed to doing one thing remarkably well. By focusing its strength in a key area, you make it the go-to app for that type of feature, and set yourself apart from others who are biting off more than they can chew.

Break away from the norm.

Normal is boring, and you can almost never stand out if you’re following conventions that are already in place. Instead, create your own standards and push the envelope! Different, novel things get users’ attention, so you need to position yourself to deliver unique value.


Rewarding users’ behavior is a great way to make your app more addicting. When we’re rewarded for an action, our brains receive a rush of dopamine that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. By rewarding behavior you create an app that users can’t stay away from.

Making an addictive app is great in theory-after all, who doesn’t want their product to be indispensable to its users? -but it’s easier said than done. What it takes is a team that’s relentlessly dedicated to understanding how their app plays into the users’ day-to-day.

What are some strategies you use to make sure your app is a rewarding experience for users?