Psst…Want the Secrets to a Killer App?

By Drory Ben-Menachem, Creative Director

We recently discussed the notion of quality as it pertains to success in the app world. Simply search “Top App Tips” and countless lists appear walking you here, there, and everywhere, in an attempt to guide you to a standard of success in the app world. But is success really formulaic? It can be, but there’s so much more to the story, and it starts with how you approach your product from the get-go. Questions frame the development. Who is the customer? What do they need? What do they need that they don’t even know that they need? How will this product differ from the masses? How can something remain relevant in the digital world?

At Smashing Ideas we like to ask these questions…and then a hundred more. The questions we ask of ourselves, our clients, and most importantly the end-users shape the context in which we build our work, and, with deliberate intention and motivational design, how we aim to set them apart. The relentless examination of our apps seek to hit these critical marks:

1. SERVE A NEED – gone are the days of “if you build it, they will come”; these days your app needs to speak to a real customer need, even if that need is to have fun. And alluding to the second point, it should ideally serve an unrealized or unfulfilled need. So ask yourself: does my app idea do that? If not, does it (can it) present a better way to solve a need that other apps have not? Serving a need has a moderate bearing on a user’s willingness to download your app (price notwithstanding) – curiosity can help you here, but much more so when users are deciding what they should KEEP on their devices. When a user asks “do I still need this app”, your app should always be on the “yes” side of that answer.

2. UNIQUE – hear that sound? That’s the sound of nearly 3 MILLION apps screaming for attention; if you want your app to have any chance of real success it must offer a meaningful differentiation to the customer – which goes hand-in-hand with the first point. The world does not need another Temple Run or Flappy Bird!

3. INTUITIVE – many an app has spent less than a minute on people’s devices because they were too complicated, too hard to use, or not optimized for the mobile experience. Striving for elegant simplicity will help you avoid the tender trap of “too much too soon”.

4. DELIGHTFUL – your app should respect the context it lives in; it’s mobile. And thus, should account for the aspects that make mobile experiences delightful: location, locomotion, immediacy, intimacy. Additionally, understanding the factors of the device(s) your app will exist on will help you address potential points of dissatisfaction.

5. EVOLVE – Releasing your app isn’t the end of the process, it’s just a start. To maintain downloads and keep usage levels up, you need to update often, adding new functionality, UI tweaks or data. If you just let your app sit statically on the App Store or on users handsets, it will quickly get overtaken by the competition. An app is a dynamic thing and should constantly develop and change based on user feedback and new developments in your marketplace. Apps can quickly be forgotten, so you need to make sure that you’re constantly giving your users a reason to revisit and re-use your service.

What do all of these have in common? They all depend on you having an active dialog with your customers. Before, during, and after you launch.


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