Apps, apps, and more apps! The world’s smartphone users live and breathe applications these days, and there’s no shortage due to many apps currently being developed and undergoing construction. According to Global Mobile Statistics, the estimated range of downloaded apps worldwide was between 56 to 82 billion, and by using our ‘look into the future’ glasses, mobile downloads could reach over 200 billion by 2017. That’s a lot of apps!
And along with all of the super useful, lifestyle-changing apps out there such as Internet banking, there are also no shortages of apps that have us scratching our heads and wondering what the designers were thinking. Consider Bowel Mover Pro, which helps users to track their bowel movements using a calendar, and even rate them on scale – we’re not sure why users pay $0.99USD for it. Or what about the app for which its sole purpose is just to say “YO!” to someone else? Or if you’re into something a bit outside the box, perhaps your next download could be the Spirit Story Box: Ghost Hunting Tool – an app that translates what the ghosts around you are saying.
Any way that you look at it, apps are taking over the world. And, if successful, they are considered to be a profitable and lucrative investment. It’s incredible to think of the huge amounts of thought, planning and contextualising that goes into an app-designing process, particularly when many see the work as a one dimensional task. Everyone who designs an app believes that surely their app will springboard into something that will get mobile users downloading.
But what are the fine lines of success? Many developers don’t realise that there are many intricacies towards making a successful app, and one of the most important elements of all is having a very specific goal for your app – namely, what do you want to achieve by creating this app? Here are some questions to ask:
- Is your goal to make money, most of which is profit, and blow the banks away? Or would you rather define your success by how many mobile users download and play your app?
- How many in-app purchases are to be made available, and what are their purposes for being there?
- Is your app after the laughs, or does it cater towards increasing productivity for its users?
- Is your app something you will be proud of at the end of development?
Many of these elements are woven together, but it is nonetheless important to know why and then to tailor all decisions based around the app’s common goal.
We can unequivocally state that the business of creating and designing truly successful applications is indeed a highly competitive field. With over 900,000 apps available for download within the Apple app store, it’s essential that every app designer has a specific goal for their app, and a checklist of what needs to be included in the app to hit this goal.
According to New Relic, the top two prerogatives of an app developer should be:
- Will the app fulfil the expectations that it promises to deliver, or will it fall short? If it falls short, changes must be made swiftly and efficiently in order to ensure the app does deliver what it promises to its users, who as clients expect to receive what they have been offered.
- Does the app, whatever it may be, contain enough key features to keep its users loyal, and ready to invest and continue playing by installing upgrades or purchasing in-app upgrades. I.e., will it not only source new users, but continue to keep the ones that it has already gained — and for how long?
New Relic also offers advice as to how developers may ensure they are on the right path to meeting all goals and expectations, and these include five keywords that should always be in the back of the developer’s mind:
- Strategy – This should include the reasons why the app is being made, and how it will benefit its users.
- Design – How will this app look, feel and play to its users? Is it easy to manage? Is it hard?
- Development – The process, and every little detail that is involved in making this app a reality, should be laid out in a project timeline with milestones and timeframes.
- Marketing – What networks and channels are going to be pursued by developers to ensure that the app, as a product, sells?
- Maintenance – Never let your app idea go dull; it’s necessary to always be upgrading and renovating even an already extraordinary app, because there is always room for improvement. Additionally, app users are becoming more critical of their applications now that there are so many available.
If you want to establish your app within the market, then you will have to know and understand your audience, or the demographic of people that your app is created for; their characteristics will determine the finer features of how the app is to be made. Put yourself in the shoes of those you are targeting: would you buy your app, and why or why not?
During the early development stage of creating an app, you and your team of creative geniuses will want to have solidified a primary purpose of the application, which will in turn align with all directives planned to captivate your audience. For example, if you are designing an alarm clock that wakes users up using their own downloaded music, then you will have determined that your new invention is going to assist your users to wake up to the sounds they want to hear most. This will require putting them in a good mood at the moment when they rise (which is very hard to do for some of us).
When actually designing your app, there are even more things to think about as you will then be dealing with the actual “interface” or the performance and functions of an app, and what they do to benefit the the overall experience. This is where an app designer must decide which development environment to use, and on which platforms and devices he or she wants to see his/her app appear.
This is very important stuff, because it will impact on every detail during the development period, when the app starts to come to life. It is best not to isolate entire demographics based on which platform you choose, preferably by making the app available via ‘cross-platform frameworks’.
One the app goes live and the audience is able to download it, only half the battle is done. Developers are still responsible for marketing their product as well as keeping tabs on its analytics, which must be employed in order to keep track of trends and financial gain from decision making processes concerning the new app. These analytics are essential to help your know the number of installs your app receives, any competitor rankings, how purchasers are being made, what revenue your app is generating, and even how many times the app may have crashed. All of this information is essential for your ongoing maintenance and improvement of the app.
All in all, there are a lot of details to consider before making the world’s ‘perfect app.’ From which platform your app will appear on to how the interface will engage its users, to the cost of the app and its evolution in the future – developers and creators must always be on trend when it comes to customer satisfaction.