9 Design Elements That Make Mobile Apps Addictive

Addictiveness isn’t a spice you simply sprinkle on prime of your app so your customers will come again for seconds. It must be baked into its core performance.  Every of the design parts under, when integrated into your app’s main features, will allow you to design your app in order that utilizing it turns into a behavior. 

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Here are 9 particular methods essentially the most addictive apps are utilizing Habits Design to make them such.

Participating Onboarding

Research present that 77% of customers drop an app simply 72 hours after they downloaded it. Which implies you’ve a really brief time period to show your app’s value with customers earlier than it’s uninstalled.7 

The easiest way to get them onboarded is to reward them with the factor they downloaded your app for within the first place. If you happen to do that shortly, it’s more likely that they’ll combine your app into their on a regular basis lives instantly.

For a recreation app like Sweet Crush Saga, this implies ensuring that customers have enjoyable the primary time they play. And for an app like Venmo, this implies serving to customers ship cash shortly to their buddies, plus displaying them different conditions they may use it for of their fast future: 

Take into consideration how one can reward customers with the issues they downloaded your app for instantly after they set up it. Then present them the promise of what’s to come back in the event that they use it once more. 

And take note, a few of these issues is likely to be emotional in nature.

Design For Feelings

A part of the rationale Fb is so addictive (and why it has been a prime app for years) is that it combats a number of unfavorable feelings that individuals have unexpectedly. 

For instance, while you’re lonely, it supplies a means so that you can really feel linked to folks even when they’re not there. Your information feed additionally helps you fight boredom, because it supplies you an limitless stream of content material to eat.

Even LinkedIn does this, however focusing on a distinct emotion — they allow you to join with different professionals which makes you are feeling profitable and necessary. 

The takeaway? Take into account that your customers could also be downloading your app to deal with a unfavorable feeling they’ve. Design with that in thoughts!


If somebody downloaded your app, they have been motivated sufficient to take action as a result of they hoped to get one thing particular from it. However most customers need assistance seeing the way it can do this for them.

That’s the place emails and push notifications will be efficient triggers for cell app entrepreneurs. 

For instance, the relationship app Hinge exists that can assist you discover a romantic accomplice. In order that they let when somebody likes you so you may verify them out:

Or Netflix for example, which supplies you a heads up about new seasons with a artistic push notification:

Every of those triggers is efficient for two particular causes:

  1. They converse to customers’ motivations for downloading the app.Hinge customers wish to discover love. Netflix customers wish to watch their favourite reveals. Every notification helps customers do this stuff in the event that they take a simple motion (open it).
  2. They spark curiosity and intrigue with a reward.Hinge rewards customers for opening the app with somebody enjoyable and new who’s already into them, whereas Netflix rewards them with a trailer for his or her favourite binge-worthy present. 

If you happen to can incorporate these parts into your notifications, it is going to allow you to hook customers in your app.

Auto-Play Subsequent

TV reveals are binge-worthy as a result of they’re entertaining, sure. However they’re additionally that means as a result of streaming providers design their interfaces to reinforce that reality.

Take into consideration how an episode of your favourite present ends… it leaves you hanging, proper? 

Nicely, streaming providers work at the side of your burning want to see what occurs subsequent by robotically enjoying the following episode. 

They really make it extra work to cease watching — you’d need to bodily inform the app to not play the following episode!

The important thing takeaway is that this: even when your app doesn’t stream movies, if yow will discover methods to make it simpler to maintain utilizing your app than give up, utilization numbers will enhance. 

The following two design parts are further methods to try this.

Mounting Loss

Think about what would occur if Instagram disappeared tomorrow… the entire influencers who make their residing from the platform would lose their lifestyle!

That’s an instance of mounting loss, or one other means to consider the thought of “funding.” It’s the concept that the extra somebody makes use of your app, the extra they’d lose in the event that they walked away. 

And the most typical technique to create it’s within the type of a “assortment.”

For instance, Instagram and LinkedIn customers accumulate followers or connections. Apps like Pinterest or Evernote assist customers accumulate articles or “pins.” 

Even Spotify incorporates this — if you happen to delete it, you’d lose the entire music that you just’ve bookmarked (to not point out your playlists).

Merely put, if you happen to construct your app such that your customers have helpful issues to gather, it’ll be simpler to retain them. 

Infinite Scroll

Infinite scroll will increase the addictiveness of your app like bottomless mimosas at your favourite brunch place. Identical to an limitless provide of your favourite drink makes it simple to remain on the restaurant longer, an limitless stream of content material your customers take pleasure in will do the identical in your app. 

That’s why Fb rolled out their information feed all these years in the past. It makes it more durable to exit the app as a result of there’s all the time extra content material to eat.

Nonetheless, identical to bottomless mimosas solely retains diners within the restaurant in the event that they prefer to drink them, an infinite content material feed solely works if that content material is one thing your customers really take pleasure in.

That’s the place most addictive apps additionally mix this characteristic with an algorithm. 

An important instance — bear in mind when Instagram introduced the truth that your feed was now not going to be chronological?8 

It seems, there was an excellent cause for this — particularly as a result of they knew it will assist customers see extra of the content material they favored, which might hold them within the app longer.

So it doesn’t matter what your app does, take into consideration how one can present an limitless stream of the factor folks obtain it for. It can make your app extra addictive, particularly as regards to content material discovery.


Video games are addictive by their very nature as a result of they’re enjoyable. And most significantly, as a result of the outcomes are ever-changing.

That’s why many apps (even people who aren’t video games) incorporate game-like parts into their design — to maintain issues recent and thrilling.

DuoLingo is a good instance of an app that does this properly. They incorporate various completely different game-like parts, together with “day by day lesson completion streaks,” variable rewards, and the power to compete in opposition to your mates (or random strangers) in “leagues” that can assist you be taught languages:

Consider methods you may introduce game-like parts and variable rewards into your app to maintain your customers hooked on seeing what occurs subsequent.

Custom-made Experiences

One of many causes Spotify has turn into so standard is that they make listening to music a totally customizable expertise, which is evidenced by their tagline: “Soundtrack your life with Spotify.”

You possibly can create your personal playlists, share them with buddies, or observe ones that full strangers have put collectively. 

Spotify even builds playlists they suppose you’ll like particularly for you:

Merely put, folks like personalization. The extra you may give customers the power to form their expertise along with your app, the extra they’ll turn into invested in it.

Velocity and Ease

Truth: 79% of internet buyers is not going to return to an internet site if load velocity is an issue. 

Because of this good UX is such a vital factor of your app’s design. Your customers is not going to interact with an app if it’s exhausting to make use of, per the Fogg Habits Mannequin. They anticipate issues to be fast and simple.9 

And in the event that they’re not? It doesn’t matter how motivated they’re or how nice the copy in your push notifications is — they received’t stick to you.

Your finest guess is to observe web site accessibility pointers, as they’re very carefully related to good UX.

Nonetheless, design parts that create the notion of velocity (like skeleton screens) also can go an extended technique to meet their expectations, even when loading is taking longer than they anticipate.10

Superior Methods For Constructing Addictive Apps

We’ve compiled six of essentially the most highly effective ideas of shopper psychology that apps like Fb, Snapchat, and Conflict of Clans use to construct habits and drive long-term retention — together with the 3-step course of that billion-dollar companies have used to achieve unicorn standing.