October 13, 2011 · 4 min read
How to create a successful mobile app
There are now over one million mobile apps that have been developed for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows phones, and with downloads now exceeding 1 billion a month, the power of mobile apps should not be ignored. However, in order to successfully launch a mobile app for your brand, you need to have more than just a unique feature, you also need to have the right foundation and strategy in place.
We’ve put together a list of things that are sure to help you develop the right mobile app for your company.
1. Are apps the right option? First thing’s first, just because apps are popular and highly effective doesn’t mean it’s the right medium for your company. Ideally an app addresses a basic need that your customers have when they aren’t at their computers, it shouldn’t replace your website. So, do a bit of research to see how your customers interact with your company and its digital media to find out if they would use an app or if another option is more appropriate.
2. Keep it simple. The ideal app offers simple functionality that people can access with little difficulty. The more complex an app becomes, the less likely it is people will continue to use it. Apps should offer one or two basic functions that complement your other digital media rather than compete.
3. Choose the right platform. There are differences in creating apps for iPhones and Androids, so research the different platforms first to determine what your target audience uses. It is possible to develop an app for both, but be prepared for the extra time and cost involved. Find out what the pros and cons of both platforms are, for example, while iPhones have a larger share of the market, the Android operating system is supported by more devices.
4. Native vs. Web. Before an app can be developed, you must determine if it will be a native app or web app. Native apps run directly off of a mobile phone’s operating system and are often developed when the phone’s functions are needed, for example the camera, GPS, or accelerometer. Studies indicate there is a higher user engagement with native apps since the user experience is smoother. Web apps, on the other hand, work off of the phone’s web browser and are often used by apps that serve a research function for looking things up quickly. They are usually cheaper and faster to create and adapt to multiple screen sizes better. It is not uncommon to create both versions of an app, and companies with a larger budget, including Google, eBay, and Facebook, often use this method. While it is becoming more common for these two versions to be merged, they are still predominantly kept separate.
5. Designing for Apps. The design of an app is just as important as its function, and simplicity is key. A small display leaves little room for flourishes, so the design should focus on presenting the usability and functionality properly. Also consider the various screen sizes available as well as how the app will look if people rotate their screen horizontally or vertically.
6. Security is key. With mobile apps often used to purchase products or store personal information, security is an important factor. Not only that, but because mobile phones are highly susceptible to theft or being lost, apps that are more secure help protect user information in case of these situations. So, consider what information your app will store and whether or not you will want a password. You may also want to consider using a native app as they are often more secure.
7. Plan ahead for updates. While you want to launch your app with all its bells and whistles, it may be wise to hold back on some features so that you can release them in updated versions. Updates will keep users interested in your app and make you more competitive in the marketplace.
8. In-market Optimisation. Similar to a website, you need to optimise your app to show up in search results. Figure out the keywords your audience would use to search for apps similar to yours, get good quality inbound links to your app page, and encourage customer reviews. The more you optimise your app’s page, the more people will find it.
9. Advertise, advertise, advertise. Getting the word out about your app will increase the number of people who download it. If you’ve got a customer service team, make sure they inform customers about the app. Include information about it on email marketing, your website, and in press releases. If you can, launch the app in conjunction with a marketing campaign, so you can include it in all related marketing material.
10. The app is just the beginning. Once you’ve developed the app, you’ll need to monitor it. Not only does this include how many people have downloaded it, but also how they are interacting with it. So, if your app offers discounts to users, track how many people are using that feature. If your app has links to external websites, analyse the traffic it brings in. Whatever you can monitor should be monitored. Success isn’t just measured on downloads but if people use the app as you’ve intended so keep an eye on the figures throughout the apps life.
11. One more thing… Developing a mobile app does not mean you’ve developed an app for a tablet, such as an iPad. While these apps will work on tablets, they will remain the same size as a mobile screen.
From entertainment and multimedia to useful tools and features, these helpful hints will help you develop the right app for your company to keep your digital marketing strategy successful and continuously gaining attention.