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Best practices and key metrics for improving mobile app performance

Mobile applications (apps) are an increasingly important channel for reaching customers, but the distributed nature of mobile app platforms and delivery networks can cause performance problems that leave users frustrated, or worse, turning to competitors.

As a result, organizations need to monitor mobile app performance metrics that are meaningful and actionable by gaining adequate observability of mobile app performance.

From the customer perspective, mobile devices have become the singular touchpoint between businesses and users, for example, the new storefront, office, and customer support line. As a mission-critical part of a business, organizations and their teams need to understand how mobile applications are performing both from a technical and customer experience point of view.

What is mobile app performance?

Mobile app performance is a measure of how well a mobile application is meeting technical expectations. This includes how quickly the application loads, how much load it is putting on the device, how much storage is being used, and how frequently it crashes. There are many common mobile app performance metrics that are used to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) related to user experience and satisfaction. For example, an app that does not crash often but is frequently slow from a user’s perspective is providing a poor user experience. That should be apparent from the business-side KPIs.

Closely monitoring mobile app performance will help ensure customer interactions via mobile apps are meeting the expectations of the customers.

Mobile app performance metrics

There are several metrics that can be tracked to evaluate the performance of a mobile app and go beyond just assessing the technical performance. Some of the most important KPIs are listed below.

  • User acquisition measures the number of new users downloading and installing an app. This can help teams understand how effectively the app is being promoted to reach new users.
  • User engagement measures the level of interaction that users have with an app. Metrics such as time spent in the app, number of sessions per user, and retention rate help to understand if users find value from the app.
  • App store ratings and reviews provide valuable feedback on the quality and usability of a mobile app. Monitoring these metrics can help to identify areas for improvement and improve app store search rankings.
  • App crashes and errors help identify issues that may be impacting the user experience, so they can be remediated.
  • In-app purchases can help to measure the overall effectiveness of your business strategy.
  • User demographics, such as app version, operating system, location, and device type, can help tailor an app to better meet users’ needs and preferences.

By tracking these KPIs and similar, organizations can gain valuable insights into the performance of their mobile apps and make data-driven decisions to improve the user experience and drive growth.

Why observability matters for mobile app performance monitoring

Observability data is becoming increasingly important to mobile app performance monitoring because it provides mobile developers with deeper insight into their applications. Examples of observability data include metrics, logs, and traces which provide visibility into the app’s behavior and performance at different levels of the stack, including the application code, infrastructure, and network.

Here are some ways observability data is important to mobile app performance monitoring.

Issue remediation. Observability data can identify and diagnose mobile app issues, including performance bottlenecks and crashes. By analyzing log data and tracing user interactions, developers can pinpoint the source of the problem and enact targeted fixes.

Proactive monitoring. Observability data can be used to proactively monitor mobile apps for potential issues before they arise. By monitoring metrics such as error rates, response times, and network latency, developers can identify trends and potential issues, so they don’t become critical.

Performance optimization. Observability data can be used to optimize mobile app performance by identifying areas of the app that are slow or resource intensive. By analyzing performance metrics, developers can improve app responsiveness and reduce resource consumption.

Capacity planning. By analyzing trends in resource consumption and performance metrics, developers can predict future needs and plan for capacity upgrades or infrastructure changes.

Focused crash and error reporting. With observability data, mobile developers can see crash and error reports in context to help them prioritize where to focus. For example, if crashes only occur on low-resource devices running a version of the operating system that is several years old and there is only a small number of users experiencing crashes, then fixing the error may be a lower priority.

Load time and network latency metrics. If apps are experiencing load time and network latency, which can be detected through observability data, it should warrant further investigation. For example, distributed traces can highlight backend services that might be a bottleneck in an app task. This kind of information will help app developers isolate the cause of performance issues so they can modify their code and improve performance.

Observability data is essential to mobile app performance monitoring because it provides developers with a more complete view of their app’s behavior and performance. By analyzing this data, mobile developers can identify issues, optimize performance, and plan ahead.

Mobile app performance best practices

Best practices for monitoring app performance start with app instrumentation so teams can get the full visibility needed to improve app performance. The following includes best practices for optimizing mobile app performance.

  • Prioritize user experience. Ultimately, the success of your mobile app depends on user experience. Prioritizing user experience by optimizing performance, reducing load times, and providing a seamless experience can lead to improved app retention and engagement.
  • Minimize network requests. Minimizing the number of network requests that your app makes can improve performance by reducing latency and improving load times. This can be achieved by reducing the size of files or images, using caching, and compressing data.
  • Optimize images and videos. Images and videos can be resource-intensive and can slow down your app’s performance. Optimizing images and videos by reducing their size, using compression, or using lazy loading techniques can improve app performance.
  • Optimize battery life. Mobile app performance is not just about speed and responsiveness but also about battery life. Optimizing your app to use less battery can improve user experience and reduce negative reviews.
  • Continuous monitoring. Monitoring an app’s performance constantly with observability can help identify issues and optimize apps for improved performance.

Optimize mobile app performance with end-to-end observability

Mobile app monitoring is natively built into the Dynatrace observability and security platform. This provides complete mobile performance monitoring for mobile developers and application teams so they can optimize applications and drive customer engagement and retention. With industry-leading AI at the core of the platform to drive advanced crash analytics, continuous topology mapping, root cause analysis, and quantifiable business impact, Dynatrace simplifies mobile monitoring so mobile app teams can deliver the high-quality performance and user experiences mobile users expect today.