Comparison: Wimbledon app vs. Roland-Garros (French Open) app

One of the biggest hurdles any app developer faces is not at all related to development—it’s getting users to notice your app.  With over 900,000 apps now in the App Store, and possibly more in the Google Play store, even the best apps out there are easily lost in a sea of mediocre (and even sometimes, truly useless) apps.

However, if I told you there was an official Wimbledon app and an official French Open app, without describing the apps themselves, then even if you and I have no idea what they do, or how they do it, what we do know is why the apps exist.  They have a common purpose: To enhance the experience of the Wimbledon/French Open professional tennis competition.  So why is one app so much better than the other?

Over the past week, tennis fans in the U.K. were glued to coverage of Andy Murray at Wimbledon, with growing swells of excitement at the prospect (and eventual reality) of a professional British tennis player winning the prestigious British tournament for the first time in 77 years. At Interapt, we were equally focused on how the Wimbledon app contributed to the overall Wimbledon experience for viewers and tennis fans.  We were inspired to observe this app a month ago, when as tennis fans ourselves, we watched the French Open and noticed the Roland-Garros app was clearly lacking in quality, experience, and features.

We asked ourselves: Was this indicative of all major tennis apps?  What would make it better?  Wimbledon provided us the opportunity to observe and compare, and here’s what we noticed when using each Android app:

The Good

–          Both apps make a good visual first impression, with a nice, rich splash screen.  First impressions are important, and app splash screens are no exception.

–          The Wimbledon app makes good use of effortless navigation features that are similar to the Gmail app

–          Wimbledon is setup to easily monetize their app, with a quick link to their Store available from any screen

–          Wimbledon provides detailed aerial views of the court layouts, something surely useful to those attending the event in person

–          Wimbledon delivered the information we wanted about matches via push notifications accurately and reliably.

The Bad

–          Roland-Garros had repeated connection issues, prompting us to connect via WiFi or 3G/4G when we clearly had a signal and had never lost access to WiFi.

–          We struggled with the navigation throughout the Roland-Garros app. Poor navigation was too much of a distraction, and ultimately frustrating.

–          The Roland-Garros app constantly struggled to load data onto its screens.  Being a mobile app developer, we know plenty of plausible explanations for this, but they’re usually obstacles that can be overcome with enough testing and forethought, which should be expected in an app that is the face of an event with the reach and publicity of a pro tennis grand slam.

The Ugly

–          Roland-Garros is simply poorly designed; nothing about the visuals or the user interface is compelling; save for the initial splash screen, it just doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing at all.

–          The abbreviations used (such as “Sche/Res” for “Schedule/Results”) throughout the app are confusing, and often inconsistent, with different terms for the same actions—though this could be at least partly due to a French language barrier that doesn’t factor into Wimbledon.

–          The overall design and layout of the Roland-Garros app was inefficient, uninspiring, and clunky.

The Gist

By no means was Wimbledon a perfect app, but comparing it to the Roland-Garros app would give the everyday user a glimpse at a sometimes harsh reality in the mobile app world: Two apps, while seemingly made for very similar purposes, can still have two wildly different user experiences.  It highlights just how important it is to not only make sure your app works, but also that people will want to use it.  If you’re not enhancing the experience with the mobile app you’ve developed, you’re only burdening it.

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