Why Do Apps Make Us Feel Good?
Whether it’s a quicker route home, a chance to connect with friends or a way to unwind after a hectic day; there is an app for everything. What’s more, all of these apps serve the purpose of improving our daily lives, whether its saving time or staying social. So, why have apps come to the forefront when it comes to making us feel good?
The app-y generation
In 2010, only 35% of people had a mobile phone with apps. Five years later, this increases to 90%. Today, we typically spend over 30 hours a month on our apps. On average, each individual will share this time between 27 different apps. This shows that most people are not looking for a one-stop-shop but are happy to share their time across a larger variety of apps. The most commonly used apps include messaging services like WhatsApp, practical tools such as Gmail and Uber and social apps such as Facebook and Instagram.
The psychology of apps
The growth in app usage is deeply ingrained in our psychology. Our brains and bodies work to save as much energy as possible. Whether it is skim reading to save time or slouching so we don’t have to engage all of our postural muscles – our brains and bodies look for the ways to reduce effort to save as much energy as we can. This is why apps can appeal to our psychology to help us conserve our energy resources.
By clicking onto an app, rather than a website, our brains enjoy the ease of use. After all, apps save time. Furthermore, they are designed to complete specific tasks making it much more convenient and easier to achieve our goals; whether it’s buying something or navigating home. Typically, successful apps are the ones that look at overcoming ‘pain points’ as this appeals to the energy-storing, survival instinct of the brain.
As a result, when something makes our lives easier, it makes us feel good.
Me, Me, Me
Another reason why apps can make us feel so good is that they are all about us. Appealing to the selfish part of the brain, apps can be fantastic at really getting to know us and becoming entirely personalised to our needs.
It can be as simple as greeting the app user by name to ensuring content is tailored to their interests. Unlike the plethora of websites available, apps have a unique advantage of becoming entirely personalised through customisable settings. An app has the benefit of speaking directly to the individual.
So, when we feel like someone (an app) is taking notice of our likes, wants and needs, we feel good.
What makes us appy?
Multiple studies have been conducted into the happiness levels of app users. For example, Moment is an app itself that tracks app usage for individuals and then rates the individual’s self-reported happiness levels.
Apps that tap into happiness are usually the ones that improve the lives of the individuals. This includes organisational apps such as to-do lists, calendars and navigation tools. Interestingly, social media apps can make people very happy if used sparingly. However, when apps provide value and invite engagement without requiring too much time, apps can instil a positive impact on the user. For app developers, the secret for user happiness is to balance the value of the apps while managing any addictive behaviours. For example, a high-quality app may not be the app that someone spends the most amount of time using; it could be the one that provides the most enjoyment and value.
The quest of the happiness seekers
Going beyond making apps full of value, many firms have actually found there is a niche of happiness-specific apps. For example, Happify is a leading happiness app that uses science-backed research. Consequently, it focuses on five areas of happiness, which include; savouring, empathising, thanking, giving and aspiring.
Research has shown that happiness apps can increase happiness while stressing that they are not an alternative to medication and therapies for those with illnesses such as depression and anxiety. The studies typically find that the apps that cover a wider range of activities see a higher happiness score.
With this in mind, whether it’s a happiness-specific app or not, the greater range of services and activities that the app provides can increase the level of happiness for the user.
How to make an app that makes people feel good
- Focus on the ‘pain points’ for users and offer a solution
- Give your users value, without making it time-consuming
- Make the user’s lives easier and integrate well into a daily routine
- Make the app personalised and customisable to suit unique requirements
- Form connections and increase immersion
- Offer variety and different activities to please a greater range of users
- Make your app a place where people can choose to spend their time, rather than feeling compelled to.
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