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Expert-centric design inspection of branded apps: a close look at marketing and interface design features

Zhenzhen Zhao (SKEMA Business School, Grand Paris Campus, Suresnes, France)
Zhao Huang (School of Computer Science, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an, China)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 17 May 2022

Issue publication date: 4 May 2023




Although brands have developed mobile applications (apps) to offer consumers new experiences, low app usage numbers indicate the need to develop a systematic, practical evaluation framework for branded app design that specifies concrete design features.


An expert review provides an overview of the design of current branded apps. On the basis of an extensive literature review, this article classifies state-of-the-art design features for branded apps according to a proposed evaluation framework that includes human–computer interaction (HCI)–related and marketing-related evaluation criteria. In an application of these evaluation criteria, the authors evaluate 73 branded apps issued by 11 top fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands.


The expert review identifies strengths and weaknesses that are common to the design of current branded apps. These findings inform the set of design recommendations that this article offers, which includes 14 features common to all types of apps and 9 features specific to particular types of apps.

Practical implications

This research offers practical implications for app designers, who need to address design dimensions contained in the proposed framework including the HCI-related (mobile, social and user experience design features) and marketing-related (branding and customer relationship management design features) to create effective branded apps.


Design elements identified in prior literature remain abstract and do not prescribe a systematic or pragmatic approach to using them in practice. This study takes a multidisciplinary perspective (HCI, marketing and design science) to establish a practical evaluation framework for branded app designs.



This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 61771297) and the Natural Science Basic Research Program of Shaanxi, China (Grant No. 2022JM-334). The authors are grateful to Professor Christine Balagué, IMT Business School, who provided insights that initiated this research. The authors also thank Ma Li, Xu Shengyuan, Zou Yun, Zi Ran and Dong Minghua, representing the company Bri, for their help in discussing and clarifying the user experience design elements.


Zhao, Z. and Huang, Z. (2023), "Expert-centric design inspection of branded apps: a close look at marketing and interface design features", Information Technology & People, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 1385-1413.



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