Spring helped build an app to help people lose weight and recruited eight people to use it. The results were mixed, with only half of those people using the app's social support component, which allowed them to use a chat room to discuss their weight loss efforts.
Spring then expanded the project to a larger group. Only 11 percent of participants used the chat room function, but if a person felt like they had made a friend through the app, they continued to use it six months later.
Allowing people to provide input about what value they'd like an app to provide can help retain users, she said.
Northwestern is creating an app for its students aimed at promoting cardiovascular health. But students wouldn't be interested in an app that tells them to eat vegetables and get more exercise. Instead, Springer asked students about their academic, personal and professional goals. Those points will be incorporated into the app and students will be told how a healthy lifestyle can help them reach those goals.
People want information they can use, and that information may be unique to each person, Spring said.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.