There are literally millions of apps available in the Apple App Store and Google Play. So if you’re looking to develop an app the biggest question is, “How will you make your app stand out?”
When developing a mobile app for your business, consider these five elements every app must have to survive:
Apps should DO something. Your mobile app should fill a need, solve a pain point, and improve the lives of your customers. (Youtility, anyone?) Your app needs to solve a problem.
For example, the Waz app has become the largest community-based traffic and navigation app. It helped me make my flight on time by cutting through nasty LA traffic. It also enables you to save time, spend less on gas, and improve your daily commute. This is a universal pain point for many of us. It’s clear that Waze is meeting a demand—it is one of the top free apps in the Apple App Store with 4.5 stars and 196,408 user ratings. The Waze app identifies an everyday problem and offers a simple and effective solution to that problem. No tricks or gimmicks needed.
Alerts and push notifications, used judiciously, can remind users of the help your app provides. For instance, Target’s Cartwheel app enables customers to store coupons and scan items in the store to see if a coupon is available. Even better, if you are in a Target store, the app knows, and it displays an icon of the app on your iPhone. This is a subtle, yet unobtrusive reminder to check the app while you’re shopping. Because Cartwheel has a clear purpose, it has become the fourth most popular e-commerce app behind Walgreens, Amazon, and Groupon.
Users don’t have the time or patience to figure out how to use an app, so you have to reduce the barriers to engage. This is true of any product. Square has seen wild success because of a great value proposition, design, and rabid fans—but the lack of friction for people to begin using Square was critical. If it’s not easy, people give up almost immediately.
Make the registration step of your mobile app a couple of steps at most: name, email, password—done. If you're looking to acquire more information about your customers through the mobile app, it should be separate from registration and something they can fill out when it’s convenient for them (or better yet, something they want to fill out because the benefits it offers are readily apparent).
Transparent (explain how information will be used and collected)
Easy to understand (avoid using overly technical wording)
Easy to read on any mobile device
Available to read on your company’s website
Updated once per year (or as needed) as the landscape of technology and privacy changes
Consider what may feel like a red flag to your customers (and if you're not sure, ask them). Be clear that you're not going to sell their email address, and that you'd never post to their social media accounts without their permission. Follow the basics, and you won't lose a user.
The aesthetics of your mobile app should entice your customers to download it. More importantly, the design should guide and encourage user engagement to keep them coming back for more. The design of your app should speak to your brand: If you're a Dunkin Donuts fan like myself, you'll notice DD’s mobile app is like a little sister to its website—the brand elements exist fluidly through both.
When design isn’t aligned with brand elements, your customers may feel disconnected or become confused. If you're a bank, you want to gain the trust of your users. Your app design should then reflect a serious engagement, not one that’s casual, overbearing, or aloof. On the other hand, if your app is supposed to get your users motivated to work out, your design should energize them and get them excited to hit the gym.
Over to you: What other factors do you think should make or break an app?