User study: How Do Users Use an Apps Marketplace

This week we’re going to conduct a small-scale user study with eight participants to understand how users interact with an apps marketplace. We’re conducting the study here in Portland, Oregon in our awesome coop working space. For the study, we’ve selected two user groups (all people between the ages of 18 and 35):

  1. Users who have limited data plans with their service providers and download three or fewers apps per month
  2. Users who have unlimited data plans and download more than three apps per month.

We’re interested in addressing the questions below.

Could an app marketplace’s structure emphasize breadth over depth navigation?
My colleague Maria has done an interesting analysis of current app marketplace sites’ navigational structure and found that they almost all follow a tree structure that emphasizes a depth over breadth searching and browsing approach. Our hypothesis is that a tree structure (essentially mimicking a file system directory metaphor) requires users to navigate deep into the marketplace to make informed decisions about apps. We’re interested in seeing if a breadth approach to navigation alters users’ decision-making process and changes their ability to make comparisons among apps. Also, we are curious to see how users approach browsing by category vs. searching for apps in such a scheme.

App Store Navigation Maps (Maria Sandberg)

How do users make decisions about selecting/purchasing apps?
There is a standard set of data points that app marketplaces provide to users about apps: ratings, reviews, price, screenshots, developer descriptions, category information and device compatibility (in the case of Google Play). Which of these factors do users prioritize when selecting an app? Which factors are most important to users when comparing similar apps? Do the categories for apps (games, utilities, etc.) make an impact on how users browse or search for apps?

As a corollary to these decision-oriented questions, we are also interested in how users perceive how their personal data is used by apps they own. Are they aware of how specific apps might use their personal information or list of contacts? If users had a clear understanding of how their data was used by an app, how would that information affect their decision about installing it?

Do carrier data limits affect how users make decisions about selecting/installing apps?
On average, there isn’t a huge quantitative difference in data usage between users with limited and unlimited data plans. However, users’ perception of their own data limits could make an impact on their app browsing behavior. We are interested in seeing if users’ knowledge of their own data limits has an impact on how they access an app marketplace and select apps to install.

We’ll report our findings and observations sometime in the near future!

2 comments on “User study: How Do Users Use an Apps Marketplace”

  1. Adam L wrote on

    I’d love to know the findings of this study. Please keep me informed.

    1. wselman wrote on

      Definitely! I’m planning on posting a summary in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.