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Mobile app user expectations: You have two seconds (or less) to impress

Amine Bellakrid
Amine Bellakrid
Mobile app user expectations: You have two seconds (or less) to impress
April 27, 2019
min read

In 2007, Apple changed the game with the release of its first iPhone. Soon, installing applications on our mobile devices became the norm.

Fast forward 10 years and the mobile app industry is thriving. In 2017, there were 178 billion app downloads (Statista). In 2022, that number is expected to land at 258 billion–a ludicrous increase of 45 percent in just five years.

By 2020, mobile apps are projected to hit a whopping $188.9 billion in revenue (Statista). So, no wonder companies want to get a piece of the mobile market.

But a market that saturated comes with high stakes. In this case: High expectations. Mobile users are fickle, have very little patience and are quick to move on to the next thing.

Based on research from companies like ComScore and Statista, we’ve pulled together the key figures for onboarding, abandonment, design and usage.

Mobile user expectations: clarity, security, and ease

Surveys point to four primary reasons why 80% of users delete an app after using it for the first time. These are bad design, poor user experience, slow load time, and crashes immediately after installation.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers. First up: onboarding.


The onboarding process is truly the make or break moment of your mobile app. It’s when the majority of users decide whether to complete the signup process and continue to use your app or abandon it.

Key figures:

  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents thought the app onboarding process should take 60 seconds or less.
  • The more time participants had to spend providing information, the more frustrated they became.
  • More than 20% of app users were frustrated by a 30- to 60-second process, while 28% were frustrated by a 1- to 2-minute process.

Source: Clutch

Lesson: Keep the onboarding experience as short as you can while giving users an incentive to come back.

Psst! Read our post about mobile onboarding to brush up on your knowledge.


App abandonment refers to the number of users who abandon an app after one session. In 2015, app abandonment rates were at an alarming 25%. But in 2018, this number had decreased to 21% (Localytics).

Key figures:

  • 80% of mobile app users indicated they will only attempt to use a problematic app three times or less.
  • 53% of mobile app users uninstalled or removed a mobile app with severe issues like crashes, freezes or errors.
  • 36% of mobile app users will stop using a mobile app due to heavy battery usage.

Source: Dimensional Research

Lesson: Test your mobile app rigorously for functionality, performance and usability issues to avoid app abandonment.


Both visual design and user experience design plays a huge part in the success of your mobile app. It’s not just about load time and functionality, app abandonment relies heavily on design. Even the slightest UX mishap can have a detrimental impact on your bottom line.

Key figures:

  • In 2017, 21% of millennials said they deleted a mobile app because they didn’t like the app logo.
  • 18% of users said they moved an app to their home screen purely because of how the logo looked.
  • Frictionless UX design could potentially raise customer conversion rates up to 400%.
  • 9 in 10 mobile users who describe a mobile brand experience as helpful would purchase from the brand again.

Source: Comscore, Forrester Research

Lesson: Don’t just focus on performance and functionality. A less-than-one-second load time won’t matter if, say, your logo isn’t even good enough for the screen, or if your users can’t complete the onboarding process.


The average person spends over four hours a day on their mobile device. (Let that number sink in for a moment.) Let’s take a look at some of the (unsettling) figures of how often we use our mobile devices, and ultimately, what that requires from mobile app developers.

Key figures:

  • 40% of adults look at their phone within five minutes of waking up. This number rises to 65 percent of those under 35.
  • 37% of adults check their phones just before going to bed. This number increases to 60 percent of those under 35.
  • 49% say that they check their mobile phone more often than they want to (nearly 6 in 10 in both Gen Z and Millennial generations) and agree they feel compelled to constantly check their smartphone (44 percent).
  • 65% admit they “panic” when they think they have lost their smartphone.

Source: A decade of digital dependency report, Motorola

Lesson: The job of an app developer is not necessarily to keep the users on the device as long and often as possible. Rather, their job is to get them use the app for what it’s intended to do, whether that’s communicate with friends and family, make purchases, track health and fitness etc. The challenge is to make your app a part of the user’s daily app arsenal.

Deliver on mobile user expectations by improving your QA process

Millennials and Gen Z are design-sensitive users and 23% will only use an app once if they encounter issues (Sigos).

That means your mobile app needs to make a great first impression. And to do this, you don’t have much time. As we’ve learned–it could be less than two seconds. After installation, when the user opens your app for the very first time, the first impression comes down to one thing: Load time. If your app requires more than two seconds to load, chances are that users will uninstall and move on to the next app.

Not so fun fact: Amazon says that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost the company $1.6 billion in sales each year. That should put things into perspective.

This means, simply put: Your mobile app must meet or exceed user expectations at all times. If it doesn’t–the consequences are dire. App abandonment doesn’t just mean less users, but potentially a tarnished brand along with lost revenue opportunities from both current and future users.

Your mobile app user experience must be measured from the customer’s perspective. But mobile apps are getting more and more complex and fulfilling mobile users’ expectations is an ongoing process. To address all the potential pain points, needs and preferences of users, QA needs to be a priority.

Remember, understanding user expectations, habits and behavior will make all the difference between a mobile app that misses the mark and one that ends up in the most popular category.

Whip your mobile app into shape with waldo (no code needed)

Want to make sure your mobile app performance issues don’t cost you downloads, revenue, and brand perception? Make your mobile QA process quick, reliable and painless with waldo.

Try waldo today for free and start running all your tests in one place–without the need for code.

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