From professional sports to starting a business, it is a given that hard work is a prerequisite to success. Beyond this broad principle, however, there are more industry-specific requirements to meet before success is attained. It is true that the mobile applications marketplace is fiercely competitive. Apps are a booming industry with revenues in excess of $25 billion and millions of apps available for iOS and Android platforms.
Like pro athletes, the best apps must stand out in meaningful ways to succeed. Every mobile app needs specific criteria to achieve this. Here are four best practices to implement for a business’s mobile app to thrive.
Make the app easy to use
Ease of use is a hallmark of successful apps. Why? Busy people in the 21st century don’t have time to spend figuring out how an app works. If the app is not intuitive or offers a buggy user experience (crashes, slow load times, etc.), mobile users will simply look elsewhere. After all, there are millions of apps available, meaning there likely is an alternative to yours that users will turn to if your user experience fails to meet expectations.
Solve a problem with the app
Technology is all about solving problems and making life easier. As a pillar of the modern tech world, mobile apps should similarly focus on solving a user’s problems. Depending on the industry and focus of the app, the specific problem being solved will vary. It could be as simple as getting a potential customer more information about your products. Still, creating a mobile app requires big-picture thinking about a user’s problems and creative ways to solve them.
For inspiration, examine the list of the top 25 mobile apps (as of June 2015) in America. Facebook makes it easy for app users to stay connected to their world as they live an active lifestyle. YouTube makes it easy to watch content from the convenience of their phone. These apps provide functions a smartphone user demands.
Your mobile app must either solve a fundamental problem or enhance the way a user interacts with your business and industry. One in four mobile apps that are downloaded ends up not being used and, eventually, deleted. Your app doesn’t have to be part of these dire statistics, so long as it adds value to an end user in your industry.
Less can be more in app development
“Simplicity” may be a slur in the automotive and fashion industries, but simple is a good thing in a mobile app, specifically when the app solves problems and adds value.
If two apps solve the same problem, but one does so in fewer steps, expect that app to enjoy greater success. It may be tempting to simply throw a bunch of features into your app to make it the most feature-rich app in the marketplace, but ask yourself whether any of these features will be valued and used by consumers. If not, you may just be wasting your time and creating an app too complex for its own good.
Get your app the attention it deserves
Finally, every app must get noticed. In a crowded marketplace with millions of apps vying for attention and increased market share, it is difficult to get a potential customer’s attention without a detailed marketing plan.
Implementation of this plan should begin before the app is even released. Successful app releases occur when marketing is ongoing as the app develops. Keep in mind where you plan to distribute the app (iOS, Android, etc.), as this will inform how your brand should promote the app at pre-launch, launch and post-launch. Your marketing strategy, in other words, must mirror the app’s development stage.
If your business does not have a marketing team, look into getting a PR firm that will help get the word out with proven marketing strategies. Alternatively, if your brand has a strong social media presence, it may make the most sense to tap into a free and effective source of marketing by speaking directly to your brand’s customers.
Regardless, it is imperative that a marketing strategy is in place for your app during the early development stages. Otherwise, even the best apps run the risk of not getting the attention they deserve.
Justin LeClair is co-founder and co-CEO of App Partner, a Brooklyn-based mobile agency. He oversees the company’s design and development teams as well as leveraging his personal programming and technical design experience to bring innovative products rapidly to market. He has developed or overseen the development and launch of 200 unique mobile applications, generating tens of millions of downloads.