If you have, or are considering, a member app for your Y or fitness center, you might be surprised to learn what research has shown about how apps affect your members. Apps are a great way to communicate schedules, hours of operation and send out notifications. So it’s natural to assume that a mobile app adds value to the membership, but the truth is… not all apps are equal. If the user experience is poor, the information is static or it doesn’t foster two-way communication, your app could actually be damaging your brand.
Convenience & Expectations
According to A Global Study of Consumers’ Expectations and Experiences of Mobile Applications 85% of users prefer mobile applications over websites. This is proof positive that to stay competitive, your Y needs a member app. They simply offer more convenience and a better user experience. But, with these benefits comes a new expectation of hyper-convenience and impatience.
The same study reported that 79% of users will abandon and even uninstall an app after only one or two negative experiences. That means one crash, one delay, any slow loading or freezing up and the app is history. Just think of all the apps that have bit the dust on your personal device! Users also expect apps to load quickly, be nimble and use the same features and gestures as their smartphone.
Native vs Hybrid Secret
This need for responsive, intuitive apps makes it critical to have a basic understanding of the two types of apps available to Ys and fitness centers.
A native app is a program that runs on the operating system of your phone. Since this is true, it looks and feels like the basic functions designed in the phone. It swipes the same way. The navigation is similar. It flips pages and has notifications that look and feel like what you’re used to.
Native apps deliver an ‘intuitive’ experience. They can also utilize and access the built-in accessories of the device like the camera and address book. Abed sums it up,
Native applications have the best performance, highest security, and best user experience. A native app is faster and more reliable by its very design.
In contrast to native apps are hybrid apps. What is a hybrid app? Essentially it’s something that looks like an app but is being fed information from a webpage. It loads information as you request it, which, as you can imagine, has serious limitations. According to Abed a hybrid app is a
This means that the ‘app’ is vulnerable to the number of requests the server is getting (mobile and web based), the wi-fi connectivity and the stability of the webpage that feeds it information. It’s slower and less intuitive with different or clunky navigation that often feels awkward and unpredictable to users.
Why would anyone build Hybrid apps if they’re inferior?
Hybrid apps are written in a single source code that allows them to load on both iOS and Android devices. Hybrid apps are faster and cheaper to develop and they can be updated more easily by the developer. The short answer is… in certain instances where there’s a rush to market, or a need to update frequently, hybrid apps can be built much more quickly and can be easier to maintain.
Don’t Compromise on Security
Security is another way native apps have the upper hand. For anyone allowing registration on a hybrid ‘app’, beware. According to Abed, “Native applications have the best performance, highest security, and best user experience.” Considering the whole premise of a branch or member app is communication and marketing, make sure any financial transactions that may occur in the app are secure.
Is your App Static or Interactive?
If your members are only using your app for basic information like schedules and hours of operation you’re not getting the full value that apps offer. Many apps are just reference tools, fed from a website with an awkward look and feel. But, cutting edge apps offer so much more. The are interactive and add value beyond just transferring information.
In fact, mobile apps offer an unequaled way of engaging your members outside your physical facility. When members log run or a game of pick-up basketball on your app, they are interacting with your brand. Apps with the capacity for push notifications or even video messaging are allowing a “virtual” engagement with members that has never been possible before. Apps with this type of interactivity offer tremendous value beyond transferring information.
Check Your App
All this to say… all apps are not equal in their design, performance or effectiveness. Before you make an investment or sign an agreement with a technology provider, make sure you know what you’re getting and your brand will be well represented. The user experience matters, it should ensure the best data security possible and the app needs to be interactive to have any real value.Follow us: