What’s the difference in an app that everybody knows and uses, versus those that linger in app stores collecting dust? Some may think that it’s just a hit-or-miss proposition: some apps are destined for glory while others just get overlooked. But experienced app developers can tell you that there are some definite do’s and don’ts, and by following some tried-and-true guidelines, you can give your app a way better chance of receiving rave reviews.
1. Focus on Your Customers’ Pain Points
Target the pain points that your potential users are looking to relieve with your app.
Why do users download apps? For the overwhelming majority, it is to meet a need (or at least a perceived need). What’s on your phone? If you’re like most mobile users, you have a weather app, perhaps a news app, banking app, time-management app (or maybe some type of calendar, clock, or alarm), some games to keep you busy while you’re stuck on a bus or train, and a few shopping apps from your favorite online stores. What is the common denominator? Each of these relieves a pain point — either boredom or a need to know whether tonight’s game will be rained out or a way to score your favorite pair of socks. Find your customers’ pain points and develop an app to relieve that pain.
2. Remember, Mobile is Just One Part of Your Overall Strategy
Your mobile app isn’t your entire marketing campaign, it is only one element. Though it is likely a very important element, it’s important to consider how the app you’re developing fits within the grand scheme. Create an app that is a natural extension of your overall marketing plans.
3. Less is Sometimes More
It’s tempting to pack as many features into a little mobile app as you can think of. But what makes an extraordinary app is that it’s functional, but easy to use, intuitive, and uncluttered. If users have too many options or decisions, they aren’t likely to get much use out of your app. It gets cluttered and confusing and users just give up.
4. Offer Users Something Your Competitors Don’t
What is one little nifty function that your competitors have failed to include in their apps? This could be the defining element that causes users to prefer yours over the others. Maybe they would like the ability to bring up their search history, or perhaps the ability to do a side-by-side comparison of two products. Even one feature that makes your app unique can drive success.
5. Don’t Let Design Elements Creep Out of Control
This is similar to keeping features neat and simple. Users need to be able to instantly identify what they want to do and do it easily with a single click. If you add lots of nifty design elements, it gets confusing. Users will be tapping images that don’t do anything, get frustrated that it doesn’t’ work, and give up. Simplistic elegant design is the pinnacle of app design.
6. Don’t Fall Too Deeply in Love With Your Ideas
Sometimes app developers fall in love with a particular feature or element early in the design process, and refuse to give up on it even when it becomes clear it isn’t working. Never fall so much in love with an idea that you can’t scrap it when it makes sense to do so.
7. Test. Then Test Again and Again.
The testing process isn’t complete until testers enjoy the product and can use it easily without instruction.
It’s nice to have the app completely under wraps until the official rollout date, but user testing is often the difference between a flop and a phenomenal success story. Test with users of all skill levels. Be sure to make relevant tweaks to the design to change anything users didn’t care for or were confused about. Keep testing and tweaking until you get the kinks worked out.
8. If an App Doesn’t Take Off, Find Out Why
Even the best developers will occasionally crank out an app that isn’t as great a success as they’d have liked. But it’s important for future success that you do the research to find out why so you can avoid those mistakes in future developments.
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Simon has worked in the software industry for over 20 years; intent on always producing work of the highest standard and creating software products that genuinely makes things better for people. Simon has previously held positions ranging from Developer, Technical Consultant, Head of Development through to CTO and more recently founder and CEO of several high profile technology companies.