A quick check of any app store reveals an exciting but intimidating truth for app developers: there are just too dang many apps to choose from. What does it take to stand out and get noticed? How can you develop a great app that users love and use and share with their friends? Here are a few things your developers need to be aware of to develop competitive apps in this overwhelming environment.
1. It’s a Rat Race
Can your developers come out ahead in the rat race?
As of last year, the Google Play Store featured 1,300,000 apps. The Apple App Store offered 1,200,000. Windows hosted 300,000, while Amazon had 240,000, and the least-used BlackBerry World held no fewer than 130,000 for users to choose from. There are a lot of apps out there, and getting noticed isn’t easy. Developers need to be cognizant of the fact that competition is fierce, and so-so apps don’t cut it.
2. You’ve Got to Work With Short Attention Spans
Users tend to give desktop applications a few minutes of their time before making a decision one way or the other. Developers of mobile apps aren’t afforded that luxury. Users will give an app 30 seconds or less of their time before deciding it is or isn’t for them. Developers need to get users hooked early to be successful.
3. Apps Need to be Fresh, but Not Strange
There is a fine balancing act between a fresh, new app or feature and something so strange that users can’t figure it out. You won’t know where this line is until you cross it. Test until you’re sure that the functionality is fresh, new and different, but not so different from the norm that users can’t figure out how it works.
4. Apps Should Be Simply Elegant, Not Simply Dumb
Simple is good. Dumb is bad. A really great app is so simple to use and navigate that it is elegant. A poorly developed app is so simple that it’s dumb. Developers can find this balance by stepping back from the development and looking at it with fresh eyes. Do you use the app thinking, “Wow! This is neat!” or is does it evoke a “Eh, whatever,” feeling? Work at it until you get the Wow.
5. Work Carefully With Color Contrast
Royal blue on white is good! Soft pink on white, not so good. Writing for mice? Also not good. Can your users even see your app?
Amazingly, two decades after the Internet became mainstream and quite nearly a decade after everyone started toting smartphones, many developers still haven’t worked out the color contrast thing. Using reverse type (dark background with light text) or using text colors that don’t show up well on the background is all too common. Develop for users that don’t have excellent color vision. Make text large enough for the mature user. Don’t make your users struggle to see or read your app, because they won’t work too hard before they give up.
6. Users are NOT Going to Read a Manual
Most users won’t even browse through a manual for an expensive piece of desktop software, like Office or their antivirus software. They certainly aren’t going to read up on how to use a free or low-cost mobile app. If it isn’t intuitive enough for the user to pop it open and navigate like a pro, it won’t get very far in terms of popularity.
7. It is Less About What You Do and More About How You Do It
There’s an old song by The Birds called, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” It is actually a verse from Ecclesiastes 3 that says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Your app won’t be the first banking or gaming or coupon app, so no matter what you are developing, it has a precedent. However, how the app is done can be new and innovative. It can be easier than the others, or faster than the others, or prettier than the others, or have better features than the others. It isn’t so much what app you develop that determines success, but how it’s done. Do it better than anyone else, and you’ve got a winning app.
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