Tips for Creating Awesome Apps #1

Tips for Creating Awesome Apps for Your Business – Number 1: Keep it Simple

The first of the tips for creating an awesome apps for business is to Keep it Simple.  I know that goes for so many things in business and marketing but it is especially true when it comes to app design.

Keep it simple.  Keep the concept simple and keep the design simple.  This is not as easy as it seems.

Think of your app as a single, simple machine that does one useful thing well.  It shows you what’s on TV today.  Or, it tells you about train timetables.  Or, it’s a simple, repeatable quiz game, like quiz-up for instance.

And, although a nice simple, awesome app often does more than one thing, the secondary things that it does should follow very naturally from the first, primary purpose of the app.  So as an exxample  The Trainline app lets you look up the train times, and then it also lets you buy a ticket, and now you can download an e-ticket too.

Very often, an app is simply a simple, easy to use way into a much more complex thing.  For instance, there are mobile apps for Facebook, or Amazon, or TripAdvisor.  All of these big websites are just that – big website systems.  Their apps are not necessarily any easier to use that the websites.  In the case of Amazon and TripAdvisor that is definitely true.  So what simple thing does an app accomplish for Amazon or TripAdvisor?

In both those cases, the app is simply a great way to Amazon or TripAdvisor onto that valuable piece of real estate that is your phone screen.

So, the first of the tips for creating awesome apps is – think of one thing you want that app to do for you, and what interaction you want from your users.

In a restaurant – you might want more takeaway orders, or you might more restaurant bookings.  In this case, focus on what you want and then think how that app will achieve that for you.

You might even decide that your one simple purpose is to use push notifications to tell people about your special offers.  That’s great.  It does mean that you’ll have to make a very compelling reason for people to download your app, and to keep it, but the focus is there.


think community

Tips for Creating Awesome Apps #2

Tips for Creating Awesome Apps for Your Business – Number 2: Think Community

Number 2 of the Tips for Creating Awesome Apps is Community.  Think Community.

Why do you even want an app?  Apps are great for businesses who have regular customers, or a circle of fans, or a circle of clients who know and trust them.  Apps are great for increasing the frequency of orders, and for increasing the value of the orders from that customer base.  And apps are established on the phones and tablets of your customers, which has the effect of locking your customers in, and making it less likely they’ll go elsewhere.

Famously, on your website you customer is only a click away from your competitors.  On your app, that is emphatically not the case.  And having an app opens up direct, dedicated channels of communication from you to your customers.

So, take a manufacturer of plastic packing cases.  He makes a simple ecommerce app which lets his customers or the different sizes of cases whenever they want, from the app.  His customer stays logged in on the app, and can click and order the correct packing cases from anywhere on the factory or warehouse floor.  It’s trusted and it’s easy and it’s mobile, and it keeps the customer from gong online and coming across alternatives.

So, the Number 2 of the Tips for Creating Awesome Apps is Community.  But remember, that means if you don’t already have a natural community, apps might not be the thing for you.  Apps are not great for getting new leads, or getting new customers.  For that, an app is a waste of money.


Play to your strengths

Tips for Creating Awesome Apps #3: Apps Should Play to their Strengths

Apps should play to their strengths – what does that mean?

It goes back to the question you should be asking yourself in the beginning of this process: why does your business even want an app?  An app for your business should be doing things for you that can’t easily be done in order ways.  So lets have a look at the things an app can do really well, that is not easily done by a website for instance.

  • Apps can send push notifications.  These are easy and very cheap to send to all app users and can alert your customers to special offers, deals or whatever.  Because they are out there on your phone screen, these messages are still getting read over 95% of the time and immediately.  There is no other messaging platform that competes.
  • Apps are great at using GPS to show their their live location, give directions and so on.  For instance you can even restrict your notification messages to within a few metres, for an event or whatever.
  • Apps are inherently mobile.  They are great for people on the move.
  • Apps are self-contained and can be used when there is no data access or signal.  Often apps are not set up to do this, but they absolutely can be.  See the View Ranger hiking guide app.  Once you download the route, it requires no signal at all to work perfectly.  Websites can’t do this.

Tips for Creating Awesome Apps #3: Apps Should Play to their Strengths

Use  these strengths.  They will give your customers much stronger reasons to download your app and to buy in to what you have got to offer.

Example: See the View Ranger hiking guide app.  Once you download the route, it requires no signal at all to work perfectly.  Websites can’t do this.  It uses GPS of course and is inherently designed for people on the move in areas where there is little or no mobile signal.

fish and chips

Tips for Creating Awesome Apps #4: Give them a Reason to Download

Your customers won’t just happen across your app when they’re looking on Google.  They will have to make a conscious decision to look you up, follow a link or snap a QR code to download your app.

This is why you need to give them a really compelling reason to download the app.  And of course this goes straight back to the first of the Tips for Creating Awesome Apps, which was Keep it Simple.

Tips for Creating Awesome Apps #4: Give them a Compelling Reason to Download

So, with the motto of Keep it Simple in mind, you might decide that you simply want to get more business from your loyal customers at you takeaway pizza shop.  So you create an app with menus and ordering facility.  You bypass Just Eat, and you keeep all your loyal customers to yourself.  Perfect!  This makes perfect sense.  Except…  What is the compelling reason for your loyal customers to download the app and not go online, pick up the phone, rummage in the drawer for a paper menu or whatever?

In this case you’d have o reward them for downloading by giving access to exclusive deals, specials and so on.  You have to reward that loyalty.  If you can do that, the rewards can be spectacular.  One Fish and Chip shop client increased takeaway orders by 128% in terms of value.  This was on the back of 800 downloads by the way.

If you don’t have a great reason to download built into the design from the start, no amount of marketing after the fact will put this right.

Dont need App

Tips for Creating Awesome Apps #5 You Don’t Have to Have an App

You don’t have to have an app.  There’s a pretty strong case for saying that every business needs a website, but no one would suggest that every business needs a mobile app.

This is a principle that should be in your mind when you are designing your app from the start and of course it ties in directly with the concept of Keep It Simple, and focus on one overriding function; and it’s a key part of having a compelling reason to download.

Tips for Creating Awesome Apps #5: You Don’t Have to Have an App

You don’t have an app.  So be sure you have a really good reason why you are designing and building your app.  Keep this in mind and it will really help with focus.

To help matters, here are some poor reasons for having an app, and some situations where you should not have an app.

  • Poor reason #1: You want an app because you want to look modern and up-to-date.  A poor app will soon be forgotten by both your customers and by you also.
  • Think twice about an app if you are just going to replicate material and functionality from your website.  It’s not a website, it’s an app.
  • Don’t have an app if you are not sure about how the functionality of the app will develop into the future.  In these cases, a good mobile-enabled website will be a better option.  This will be much more flexible, easier to change and adapt and so on.  You can develop the mobile website, see how customers are using it, and then think about how an app would build on this and be better.
  • If you are at the stage of “we could do this, and we could do this…” don’t start designing an app.  You CAN do anything you want, but if you are not sure what you are creating and what you’re motivations are, hold off.  Sort out what you are doing at the start.  A bit of a delay pinning things down at the start will save you from a failed project later on.