From HQ Trivia to Tinder, Here's What Enterprise Developers Can Learn From Consumer Apps

Intermedia Labs’ mobile trivia gaming app is a runaway success. Can enterprise app developers boost engagement by following its lead?

Some mobile consumer apps catch fire fast. With 7.7 million downloads since its August 2017 launch, HQ Trivia is a veritable wildfire, enticing users with fast play at designated times in a live social setting coupled the prospect of winning up to $50,000 by correctly answering 12 multiple-choice questions.

HQ Trivia owes its success to many factors—for one, it's a fresh take on classic trivia, so users immediately feel comfortable with it. HQ Trivia also makes the most of the time that users devote to it, building urgency with lightning-fast game rounds. Players log on twice a day (typically at 3 p.m. EST and 9 p.m. EST) and stay hooked for its entire 15-minute running time.

The recipe for engagement is different for enterprise developers. While they can gain insights from popular consumer apps like HQ Trivia, the secret isn't to mimic specific features such as real-time competition, leveling up and winning streaks; the trick is to draw lessons from their ease of use, adaptability and novel approaches to engaging users and keeping them engaged.

Lesson 1: Even If It's Not a Game, Make It Fun

When it comes to driving urgent, timely engagement with an enterprise app, developers can't exactly turn every task into a competition that offers money rewards like HQ Trivia does. But they can assign specific times at which certain tasks must be completed.

Developers can easily program apps for tasks such as time entry, job tracking or softphone applications. For example, apps can set off alerts and reminders at specific times, and even reward users who engage on time via gamification rewards—badges, tokens, and so on.

Lesson 2: Engagement Is a Swipe Away

User engagement often "feels like an afterthought for enterprise apps," says Joel Erb, senior director of digital growth at communications agency Padilla. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Even Tinder, one of the most popular dating apps in the consumer world, has plenty to teach enterprise developers. "People love the accessibility of its layout, where a swipe right or swipe left connects them with other users—or not," says Calvin Brown, founder and principal enterprise architect at Kairu Consulting, whose services include developing mobile apps for enterprises.

Tinder offers a one-swipe experience, and Brown suggests that enterprise developers should similarly streamline the number of steps it takes to accomplish an activity in their apps. A leaner user interface may be harder to create in the enterprise space, where businesses' goal is to maximize the number of tasks an app offers, he admits. But simplifying steps can reduce users' frustration when it takes too long to accomplish even the most mundane tasks.

Lesson 3: More Updates, More Engagement

Another easy way that developers can put user engagement front and center, according to Brown? Adopt a consistent design methodology that allows the addition of new features faster and more often. Some of the most-popular consumer apps have the most-frequent software updates, he points out.

“This is by design," Brown explains. "And it's easily the most important aspect to transfer to enterprise apps."

To that end, developers must change their mindsets from simply building and rolling out enterprise apps (and stopping there) to delivering ongoing iterative improvements.

Brown says that adaptability is vital to the future of apps—this is something that consumer app developers already realize, and enterprise app developers need to learn. For example, just months after it debuted, HQ Trivia was ready with an incremental update that improved how game winners redeemed their earnings.

Lesson 4: Tune into Users' Needs

Enterprise developers shouldn't guess about which functionality enterprise app users want and need, says Brown—they should just find out. Push out a survey to ask them what capabilities they'd like an app to have that it currently doesn't, suggests Eric Klein, VDC Research's director of enterprise mobility and connected devices. Invite feedback about how the apps' current features could improve.

“Lots of companies don't bother to engage with the real users of the app," he says. In contrast, consumer app developers can tap into star ratings and user reviews on the Google Play Store app or the Apple App Store to get a feel for what they're doing right and wrong.

When businesses creating enterprise apps invest in app-monitoring tools, the analyses of the data they collect can be invaluable, Klein says. How often is the app used? How much time are users spending in it per session? When and how does the software fail?

“Companies should perform remote or in-person user testing and hold customer discovery sessions," Erb suggests. "It's often through these 'live' user dialogues that organizations understand how apps are used in the real world."

Although enterprise app developers can't always incorporate all of the bells and whistles available to their consumer counterparts, they can make their apps more engaging simply by adding a few trimmings. Perhaps developers can deploy facial recognition to unlock sensitive mobile apps, Klein advises—or create healthy competition with an engagement-based leaderboard that touts the top three users each week.

“That could be a way to encourage use," Klein says. “From there, maybe you can build up to more intricate systems to incentivize employees."

Jennifer Zaino
By Jennifer Zaino | September 19, 2018

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