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Developing engaging apps
This is the first in a series of guest blogs by friends and associates of Brand New Day, we hope you find it interesting. If you have a project in this area you wish to discuss or would like to contact the author directly please get in touch. So on to the topic at hand…
6 things you should do to make Mobile Apps endure the test of time…
Mobile app development has grown exponentially over the last 5 years. It is estimated there are now over 800,000 mobile apps across the iOS and Android marketplace alone. Individuals and businesses alike develop them (to primarily) make money, retain customers and reduce costs.
People need them too, it seems. It is fast becoming the way that most people communicate, socialise, buy products, keep healthy and well, in some cases – find a partner. In 2013, it is reported there were over 21,000,000,000 apps downloaded, a rise of over 300% on 2010. This is a huge number – but let’s be honest, most apps, (in fact, probably 99%), will be destined to become another code cadaver, confined to the depths of an app store graveyard…
Asia, in particular, has been leading this growth globally, with countries such as South Korea and Singapore. They have the highest smartphone penetration than anywhere else in the world and in parallel – a high demand for apps. Mobile device penetration rates of over 100% are not uncommon in a number of Asian countries, fuelled by the low cost of the technology, social trends and apps that create real engagement.
Research suggests the average person in Asia has around 28 apps on their smartphone, but in reality we only regularly use 9 or 10. Of course the big digital brands such as facebook and Twitter are the mainstay, but a number of other apps have also become intertwined with our psyche – they support our lives and have disrupted what was the status quo.
Source: Google “thinkinsights”
So what is it about these apps that keep users engaged? Well, there are really only two key driving principles – a good proposition and good design. Yes, these tenets are very broad, so I have broken these down and provided my view on the what I believe are the 6 most important criteria that would almost guarantee the creation of a successful app!
• Make users feel they can’t do without it – this comes down fundamentally to “what the app does” – what need is the app serving, how can the app disrupt the status quo? e.g. “What’s App” – simple, straight-forward and free. Telco text revenues have been impacted.
• Make them quick – it goes without saying the app should be tactile, smooth and quick – many apps developers focus on design, but omit performance – users will not wait. e.g. Shazam – it would simply not work otherwise…
• Keep them simple – apps shouldn’t be replications of websites. They should provide the key functions and services through an intuitive and intelligent architecture. Overloading impacts simplicity, design and performance. facebook take note! Google is a great example with the ethos carried through from the desktop site.
• Make them beautiful – brand and creative design is critical. Touchscreen allows more creative licence, use high-quality graphics and avoid text were you can. Transitions and iconography should be smooth and intuitive. Check out Vine, simple and completely fascinating.
• Keep them fresh – keep them updated with the latest iOS and Android version offerings. Add new features and functions regularly. Make sure the app is available on all the app stores, not just on the big ones, and make sure you have tablet versions too. And with 80% of new apps featuring integrated social media – keep it social.
• Make them relevant – knowing your user or customer provides a better experience and brings in greater rewards. Make the app trackable and measurable at customer level. Greater personalisation gives more data – you can then learn, adapt and deliver better experiences to keep them glued.
Clearly, apps will be stronger in some areas more than others, but the best apps all have elements of the above to one degree or another. If in doubt – the best advise is always start with the customer and work backwards!
Sean Barton, a friend of Brand New Day, has held the role of Head of Digital at a number of major retail financial services businesses based out of the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore. He is also a board member of the Mobey Forum a global financial services business association that works towards the evolution of mobile financial services.