How to successfully launch a new app user experience in five stages

| August 10, 2017 | By

The need for brands to go through a major app redesign is as inevitable as it can be painful. Associate product manager Laura Palit, who led Yoyo’s latest major app redesign, talks about walking the tightrope of attracting new users and keeping the loyal following satisfied.

As businesses change and grow, releasing an app update to create an entirely new user experience that will attract new audiences and still satisfy the current loyal following is nothing less than a tightrope walk between success and failure.

In Yoyo’s case, there are two key distinct audiences to satisfy:

Retailers (our clients)
Their customers (the end user)

The Yoyo app helps retailers retain customers and maximise their value by identifying every single customer at the point-of-sale and driving behaviour through personalised offers and mobile-first campaigns.

At the same time, the retailer’s customers (the Yoyo app’s end users) benefit from a secure and fast mobile payment experience, automated loyalty collection and digital receipts from the retailer, all delivered through a single scan using the Yoyo app at the point of payment.

In 2016, just three years after launching, Yoyo had established itself in more than 700 university and corporate closed shop and catering environments across the UK and Ireland.

Yoyo’s 10-strong app team (which has more than 70 years’ app building experience between them) had created and produced an app with an average download retention rate of more than 75%. The industry average for some of the best apps around is only 60%!

This success was born out when Yoyo processed its 10 millionth user payment by the end of 2016 – just three years after launching! 

As Yoyo entered 2017, moving onto the high street become the natural next step – as new Yoyo partnerships with the likes of HOP Vietnamese, Planet Organic, Wrap it Up, Harris + Hoole and Caffè Nero emerged.

As more high street consumers were being introduced to Yoyo, new thinking was needed when it came to the current app experience. So far, the app had been a brilliant success, but we knew it could do even better.

Last month, we launched the latest version of the Yoyo app to accommodate our new high street audiences, and, at the same time, provide an improved experience for our business and student users.  

The journey from start to finish took 3 months – during that time, we identified five key stages to successfully creating our new and improved app update.

1. Feedback, feedback, feedback

The first step was to collect fresh feedback from both retailers and end users on their experience with Yoyo so far to identify the key problems they were both facing.

For retailers

After hundreds of calls, conversations and meetings with our clients, two key issues cropped up again and again.

  1. Retailers wanted their brand represented on the Yoyo app.
  2. Retailers wanted a more effective way to communicate with their customers and drive behaviour.

For end users

We brought together more than 100 Yoyo users and non users, who told us:

  1. Yoyo was still a brand they were not totally familiar with – unsurprising as Yoyo’s move onto the high street was only just beginning.
  2. Yoyo was still seen as just a payment app – many users had no idea they had collected points or stamps through the app and that these could be easily redeemed for all sorts of products.

We also found out that 60% of app users thought, wrongly, that it was Yoyo providing them with rewards and offers and not the retailer.

2. Identify the core challenges

Two key challenges were identified after collating both retailer and end user feedback:

  1. End users were not fully aware or engaged with automatic loyalty and rewards.
  2. End users were not familiar enough with Yoyo, which deterred users from building up a retailer relationship through the app.

3. Set core aims

With our core challenges identified, we decided on two key aims, which would address the problems both retailers and end users were facing:

Engaging relationships
Respect and enhance the existing relationship between our retailers and their customers.

Live a rewarding life
Identify our value propositions and demonstrate them at every interaction.

4. Create a robust design process / user testing

We kicked off the project with workshops and design sprints. Similar to building a house, you wouldn’t start laying foundations and building walls without several consultations and sets of agreed blueprints. We had to take into consideration that any drastic changes in user experience would not disrupt the user flow.

High fidelity prototypes of the new app were created and we carried out user testing at several retail sites that accepted Yoyo, spanning across all our sectors and user types.

We also reached out to our Yoyo ambassadors for feedback and carried out a user testing project with  software testing company Applause, which we use on a daily basis for manual testing and QA.

5. Be clever about when/how you release your new update

We wanted to get the new Yoyo experience in the hands of our users as soon as possible, especially with
plenty of time for Fresher’s Week – an important time for Yoyo when new students are first introduced to the app in university environments.

Ahead of launch, separate key messaging was sent to both retailers and end users outlining the new and improved offering:

For retailers

  • Loyalty is now grouped by retailer, summarised on a dedicated retailer home screen.
  • Retailers can now personalise even more elements of their retailer store on the Yoyo app.
  • The number of areas retailers can promote loyalty and offers within 
  • the app has increased.
  • An enhanced seamless experience has been created for on-boarding retailers.

For end users

  • Track your loyalty with ease – points, stamps, offers and rewards have been grouped by retailer, so end users never miss out on the best deals.
  • Rewards at a glance – end users would never forget about a reward again, with all loyalty offers seen directly on the home screen.
  • Pay from anywhere in app – No matter how far down the loyalty rabbit-hole end users go, they will never be more than one tap from payment – so they can be ready to scan within seconds.

The end result

The Yoyo app now consists of a homescreen of fully branded retailer tiles (‘shop windows’), which provide a snapshot of loyalty, rewards and offers, enabling the retailer to entice their customers into their retailer stores (‘the shop’).

The end user can now track loyalty with ease and view their rewards at a glance. The new experience ensures they are never more than one tap from payment and automated loyalty collection through just one quick scan.

Initial impact

We delivered the app as early as possible without disrupting the existing experience. While it’s too early to analyse meaningful data, the positive qualitative feedback has been excellent:

“Yoyo was already really smart, but this update now makes my payment and loyalty collection a better experience. Love the fact I can start to use in the high st at Caffè Nero. Hope there are more retailers following suit.”

We have now demonstrated a great proposition for the high street and there is a LOT more to come!

Laura has worked as a product manager for mobile apps for the past two years. Initially focused on marketing and driving sales at her previous role, Laura now sits between user experience, technology and business needs at Yoyo to ensure we are building the most rewarding mobile experience in the most efficient way.

You can reach Laura at