iPhone app home pageOur iPhone app has been on the iTunes App Store for over three months now. As we approach 10,000 downloads, and rack up thousands of user sessions every week, it seemed a good time to share a little bit of what we’ve learned from its usage.

We’ve done some analysis on how the app is used [1] and how that differs from the usage of our core products (content delivered through a customised internet portal).

When the app gets used

Perhaps the most interesting difference between the app use and traditional web-based access to our content is the time that content is being accessed.

People start accessing the app in volume from around 7am and usage is then pretty steady throughout the day until around 6pm. So far, this is pretty similar to the patterns we see with our web products. The difference is that between 6pm and 10pm usage increases. The highest level of usage we see is actually between 9pm and 10pm.

Now, there’s no doubt that there will be some differences in the user population for our app compared to our web products; our app users have sought out the app and chosen to download it, while our web products are usually promoted by our clients’ L&D departments. However, it does appear that users want to access content in the evenings, perhaps to prepare them for something they need to do the next day, and the app is a convenient way to do that.

Engagement levels

There are some key measures we look at when gauging how engaged a user population is in our products; things like the amount of time they spend on the site, how many resources they look at, how frequently they access the site, etc. You can get some excellent benchmark metrics from Google’s Ad planner to see how those engagement metrics match up to other, similar types of site.

When looking at what the level of engagement looked like with our app, there were some findings that stood out:

  • People who access the app during ‘commute times’ spend, on average, 25 minutes per session
  • Across the whole day, the average is 14 minutes per session (for comparison, the average Wikipedia visit is 8 minutes, the average Businessballs visit is 6 minutes)
  • During that time, users view between 7 and 8 pages per visit, which allows them to view between 3 and 5 articles, [2] (for comparison, Wikipedia gets around 3 pages per visit, Businessballs gets 2 pages per visit)
  • 80% of users have used the app more than once, and over 60% are regular users (active return users in the last 30 days)

In general, people’s engagement with content delivered through our app is higher than you would expect to see based on similar web-based content.

What content?

We have 114 top tips articles in the app, spread across 23 categories which are split into three top level domains: personal performance; management skills; and communication. When we looked at what the most used content was, it confirmed findings from previous investigations we’ve made into usage across our internet based products:

  • there are no ‘blockbuster’ topics – usage is spread reasonably evenly across subject areas (a ‘long tail’ distribution’)
  • the traditional topics you would expect to see in management development programmes feature slightly more highly

There was one exception to this general rule which is interesting because it’s a little insight into what people do when they first look at the app. The article ‘Decision-Making Essentials’ has almost twice the usage of other articles. It sticks out in our analysis like a sore thumb. And it’s unusual because decision-making, while well used, isn’t a particularly well used topic in our other products.

However, when you look at the app in a little bit more detail, you find that ‘Decision-Making Essentials’ is the first article in the ‘Decision-Making’ subject list, which in turn is the first subject in the ‘Personal Performance’ top level domain, which is the first domain featured on the home screen list. Mystery solved!

What’s the lesson here? Well, first it shows that you shouldn’t take every statistic at face value – it would have been very easy for us to say that decision-making was the hottest topic but we’d have misinterpreted the data if we said that. Second, positioning can be important and skew content usage. It’s handy to know about that particular position, because we can now use that knowledge if a client ever wants to ensure a particular piece of content gets a lot of attention.

But, that’s the only anomaly that could be found. Aside from that first, very natural action to quickly discover how the app works, the position of an item in a list did not have any particular impact on how well used it was. And content discovery as a whole seems to be relatively straightforward for the users.

Lessons learned

When we launched GoodPractice Top Tips for Managers in the iTunes App Store, we weren’t really sure what the demand would be and how well it would be used. Based on the experience we have had so far, we can see that:

  • people with smartphones want to access quality content via apps
  • they are quite happy to consume management and leadership content in their spare time
  • they are quite happy to read well formatted, quality content for periods of time of up to 30 minutes
  • people who use the app use it a lot
  • the most popular content is support for day-to-day management activities
  • having a good spread of content (a ‘long tail’) is important to maintain interest

If you’ve launched an app or have used ours, it would be great to hear your experiences. Why not pop a comment in below?

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[1] We used Google Analytics to examine usage on the app.

[2] Page views include navigation pages. In 7-8 page views the user can view between 1 and 5 articles, depending on how they navigate the app.