We are living in an age where we do nearly everything on our phones. I am not even sure how we made it this far as the human race without extinction from not having smartphones in our lives. Looking at my phone, I literally have an app for everything I deem important. There is even an app that lets me know how many kilometers I have covered in a day because apparently it is important to know that information. It is no secret that we have become reliant on a variety of apps to meet a combination of needs. Organizations do not want to be left behind and so every waking moment sees an organization release an app to boost their service delivery among other things. Sadly, most of them can’t seem to get it right and this is especially the case with huge corporations.
According to ComScore, the average person spends 80 percent of their time on mobile devices using only three apps. This only means that as an app developer, you need to have an app that sufficiently serves your targeted audience so that they are not lured away by your competitors. There is not a shortage of app success stories but there is an untold side of the thousands of failed and fast declining apps.
Often times, organizations rush an app to market and the result is a glitch in functionality and bad reviews come swarming in like supporters at a political campaign rally. One needs only look at the location problem Little Cab, a Kenyan cab hailing service meant to compete with Uber encountered. For an app that relies on GPS positioning, you would expect that was a top priority in development but I digress; I’m not here to play favourites, I am here to offer some guidance.
Startups often take their time before rolling out an app because they are hugely paranoid about the things that could go wrong and often times there is no back up plan if it fails. On the other hand, big corporations are largely focused on rolling out another product to join their roster of products and in most cases to try and offer competition to other market players. Unlike startups, they have successful market products to fall back on, and resources to cover up their failures. (It is no secret that some of those honey coated surreal reviews that make you question your ability to use an app because of the inconsistencies on your end are paid for, and so are some of the publicity media efforts). However, most companies get to learn the hard way that a good idea, computer skills and throwing money at it is not enough to stand out in a competitive market and join the elite team of preferred apps by consumers. One need only look at a few apps such as slingshot and Poke that have failed despite the fact that they come from a largely successful app company like Facebook that has proven severally that they have what it takes to drive a mobile app into market success.
What to Consider
I may not be running Silicon Valley but allow me to be your app whisperer so that you can have a great shot at getting it right. There are a few things that need to be taken into consideration for an app to stand a chance at market success. Here are five critical considerations:
- Don’t Rush It
There can immense pressure to rush an app to market especially if your competitors have already rolled out their apps and you are only just thinking about it. Rushing your app to market feels a lot like signing up a person with two left feet in a dance competition; they may move around and capture the attention of the audience but we all know they are not going to win it. Perfection takes time and so you want to take time in development to consider all the functionalities in your app to get it right.
- Functionality over Appearance
I have been to the play store and often downloaded an app because its appearance is worthy of a showcase, but then once I encounter functionality problems the uninstall option is literally flirting with me and I’m all in. Great appearance is amazing for marketing purposes (so, definitely make an effort) but pay extra attention into ensuring that it functions right.
- Consistency in design and Usage
We are all about making change as long as it does not throw off our balance. This is why it is exceedingly critical to understand your consumers so that your app remains true to why they like it, use it and retain it.
- Don’t Mirror the Website
A lot of organizations go wrong by trying to fit their entire website as an exact replica on the mobile app. I think of this as not only lazy but also in the same manner that wearing a shoe that is a size lower just isn’t a good fit; it is a turn off. My preference of services over mobile apps rather than websites is because of the simplicity and convenience that it offers. Additionally, it often involves few procedures and everything is almost instantaneous (most banking apps have effectively achieved this feat). I understand the temptation to mirror your website because it is remarkably easy than working up a new concept for mobile but it kills the spark that change brings.
- Make it Engaging
I know I’m not the only one who gets super excited about an app after getting it, endorse it to everyone around me and after a while forget about it. Actually, I don’t remember its existence until I need to uninstall it to create space on my phone. Engagement can only get achieved with adequate amount of research to understand your consumers. In so doing, you are able to create engagement mechanisms that every so often remind users of your app’s existence on their devices. Allow them to see benefits of your app and the bond they create with it cannot even be broken by the prompt to create space on their devices.
When all this and more gets taken into consideration, the launch into market and the success of the app inches exceedingly close to your reach. Don’t just make an app, be Appright.
Edwin Kuria is a Mass Communication graduate with double majors in Broadcast Journalism and Advertising. He has been a writer and producer on websites that deal with Technology and Lifestyle topics.