Everything you know about mobile app user engagement may be wrong

Pre- and post-release data collection is a routine part of mobile app development but some companies want deeper analysis than traditional methods can provide. Plastic Mobile released an extensive report detailing how neuroscience research methods are being used to explore the relationship between mobile design and user experience. Read below for an exclusive interview with Plastic Mobile President and COO Melody Adhami.

During a recent study, 30 participants wore brainwave-tracking headsets and special glasses to track eye movement while using a mobile retail app. Researchers used the equipment to measure attention span and emotion as the participants shopped, then later correlated it with a post-study survey.

It turns out there was a pretty distinct gap between what the participants told researchers and what the neuroscientific equipment showed. For instance, the report states, "When asked what their favorite part of [the app] was, 62 percent of participants explicitly stated that the selection was their favorite, however, their emotional engagement was at its lowest point at 16 percent."

To find out how reliable neuroscientific research data is, FierceMobileIT caught up with Plastic Mobile President and COO Melody Adhami. She acknowledges that there will always be some margin of error in research of this type so it's important to have more than one reference point for comparison.

"When we started exploring neuroscience methods of research we were a bit surprised by how advanced the technology for both gathering and analyzing the data has become over the course of the last 10 years," says Ahami. "Having gone through the exercise first hand, and having reviewed the abundance data points, I think neuroscience offers some great tools to measure emotion and attention. The pairing of the two technologies (EEG & eye-tracking goggles) was key to accurately interpreting the results. Looking at neural activity in silo isn't enough as there are too many variables."

So what does this mean for the future of mobile development? "While it's not totally practical to launch a full blown neuroscience study on every app that's developed, it can be helpful in measuring engagement of new user journeys, new concepts, and usability features," Adhami notes.

Adhami goes on to say that once this type of research becomes more financially feasible, "testing new concepts in hardware and software before going to market is going to become common practice for any technology provider, and neuroscience is one of the methods that will be more commonplace than it is right now."

For more:
- read the full report

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