How to create viral apps (part II): User interface (UI) and the right pricing model

By now, you know how to conduct research strategy and how to design a viral loop. In this article, we will look at the best practices of user interface (UI) and how to pick the best pricing model for your viral app.


Both elements are important, and we will focus on executing them with virality in mind.

User interface

Simply put, UI covers everything that falls in the human-machine interaction. Therefore everything that a user will interact with. UI involves all the menus and junctions that user goes through while interacting with the application.


Good UI will ensure that your users don’t abandon your app, and will be happy to use it. However, to proactively ensure that people will share your app intuitively and with ease, your UI needs to be really well thought through and executed.


So, why exactly is UI so extremely important?


Even from anecdotal evidence, it’s quite clear that the human attention span is decreasing. Do you also find it hard to focus only on one task? Given the amount of stimuli competing for our attention, no wonder we are easily distracted.


If you are a mobile user, this can range from music, in-app ads to incoming emails. But also messages from communication applications, music notification, and the list goes on…


viral app pricing model


In fact, research shows that our attention span decreased from 12 seconds to 8 seconds because of technology. Given this statistic, bad UI can impact your users in a number of ways:


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  • they will become quickly disinterested
  • bad UI causes confusion and frustration
  • sub-optimal UI will increase attention to other stimuli and distractions


Nobody can say with certainty what will happen in the future, but the trend of diminishing attention span is likely to continue. Hence, it’s even more important to design applications that will be truly captivating. Through both, its features and design.


Designing UI with virality in mind


A great UI with its primary focus on virality will have a number of common underlying characteristics:


  1. Optimized for sharing. Ensure that your users can easily share the app to their network. This will involve large salient sharing buttons, and clear call to action buttons.
  2. Keep your app intuitive. The user flow or journey that will lead them to share your app needs to be intuitive, and the action of sharing must come ”naturally”.
  3. All possible decisions must be kept to a minimum. Asking your users to make too many decisions is a proven conversions killer. Ensure that if you want your users to share the app, that they won’t need to do anything else at that given time.
  4. High quality. The overall design and feel of your application needs to be of high quality, and congruent with the feel and nature of your brands.


Pick the right pricing model for your application


Whether people pay for your app, at what stage in their interaction and how much, will greatly impact its viral potential. The pricing model you choose can proactively influence the relative amount and the type of users your app will acquire.

If you want, however, to create a viral app, it’s worth paying emphasis on minimizing any barriers to using it. 


What pricing models can you choose from?


1.Paid: Making your users pay for your app is a safe way to launch. This is especially the case if your idea is validated and you are confident that your app can deliver. Paid apps allow clear financial forecasting for minimising risk. This straightforward method of launching an app is however difficult to execute without a well established brand name. Secondly, your brand name and positioning need to be aligned with the selling price and marketing strategy to pull this off. However, putting up a financial barrier is really likely to decrease the speed of acquisition of new users.


2.Free: Not having to pay to use the application generally means significantly lower barriers of entry, and more users. Free applications generate their revenue from in-app advertising. So before deciding on this pricing model, determine what demographic will you be reaching and how lucrative is it to sell advertising space. Many developers who don’t execute their launch and marketing of a free app well enough can fail to meet their ROI benchmark.

The initial success can be perhaps deceiving. New research shows that in general after 30 days there is 90% drop in daily average users. Secondly, there is 95% drop in the next 90 days. The whole user base tends to diminish after few months. Given this data, low barriers for acquiring the app can possibly lead to even faster reduction of users if there wasn’t any financial investment. 


3. Freemium. With this pricing model, the initial use of the app is free. However, the use of advanced or proprietary features is paid. In some ways, this pricing model has the benefits of a free app, and paid. The user acquisition tends to be faster due to the low initial commitment. If the features prove to be good enough, this pricing model allows monetization options via upgrades. One example of a viral app with this pricing structure is Candy Crush. 


continuity app strategy


4.Paymium. People don’t discuss this pricing model very often. You purchase a paymium app upfront, with further paid features inside. 


How to pick the best pricing model for your app


This article is outlining how to maximize the chances of your app going viral. Because of this, all other factors that would in other circumstances need to be addressed must be aligned to this sole purpose. 


In case you missed our diagram of a viral loop which outlines the process of how apps go viral, here it is again:


viral loop


The cycle of viral sharing naturally starts with the access to the app and its features, which then allow sharing.


Therefore your primary objective is clear. Allow access to your app and its features to as many people as possible (that are likely to share). Based on this line of logic, we need to minimize the barriers of entry so users see and interact with the app.


Considering the pricing models above, you can increase the chances of your app going viral with free or freemium pricing models. However, when applying the freemium pricing model, ensure that all the features and encouragement to share will be accessed before the first paywall.



Viral applications gain popularity because many relevant people gained access to it, and were willing to share it.


Therefore, ensure minimal barriers to entry by lowering the initial acquisition commitment. For many people, the main concern is money and value they will gain. And money is perhaps one of the biggest barriers of entry to.. almost anything.


Because of this, the best approach would be to select the free or fremium pricing model. You will ensure that enough people will see and interact with your app to share it, and start the viral loop cycle.


In terms of practicality, clear and intuitive UI is the solid foundation that will support and optimize sharing.


Did we leave anything out? Let us now in the comments section below!


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