It is hard to go wrong, making a mobile application, especially if you have a great app idea and experience with regard to app development. However, it is shocking how so many of the apps available are flawed.
As you develop a mobile app, you need to get basic things right to ensure that it is user-friendly, it catches on with the users and becomes a success.
Here are nine critical factors that you should consider if you want make your app a success:
When it comes to apps, the first impression is usually the last impression. This is why the app should look high-end and be well-designed, as that will make potential users want to give it a try, regardless of the reviews or ratings. The app must appear sleek and modern, when it comes to its layout. The graphics must be high-definition, regardless of what screen is used to access it.
Example: Yummly app – Yummly users can access a vast corpus of food recipes gathered from websites across the web. As you use the app, it learns your taste and provides you with results that suit your preferences. The app has a tour guide that walks you through the many features of the app. The tour design is minimalistic and sleek, yet elegant. The home screen of the app features a large appetizing photo of a recipe, and hence appears simple and neat. So, the app tries to make a single, beautiful image the subject of focus at a time rather than having thumbnails of multiple small images.
There are different filters for searches in the form of preferences, cuisines, preparation time, tastes, techniques and nutrition. You can tell Yummly about the ingredients that you dislike and it omits recipes that have those ingredients. The Shopping List also has a beautiful layout and design. A bar code scanner can be used to add ingredient to the shopping cart and recipes with those ingredients can be found instantly.
The main goal is to create an interface that even naive users will understand without sacrificing any of the features. The app interface should be easy to use, even for people who are not techies or those who are early-adopters of the service. The interface should be simple, concise and self-explanatory, otherwise the would-be users can have a hard time understanding the intricate details.
All the screens within the app should be neat and clear, and not look cluttered or distorted. An option-overload should be absolutely avoided, as it makes almost impossible to navigate through the app on a small mobile smartphone screen.
The app should incorporate a few specialized and valuable features instead of having a truckload of not-so-useful features. These should be above the fold (i.e visible at first sight) and easy to use.
The hit area, which is the section where the buttons and clickables are located, must be sized to fit all thumb sizes.
Example: Flipboard App – Flipboardis a kind of personalized online magazine. It allows you to follow topics or even people that interest you, from a range of different websites. So, you can keep up on the latest news, and then share the images, stories and videos that you wish.You can always add more as you find new topics, magazines or interesting people to follow. The source to follow can be found by searching in the search bar. You social media profiles on website on different networks like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can also be connected to your Flipboard and you can view all your friends’ updates and posts at one place.
Flipboard has a very basic yet refined designed. The stories are depicted in the form of tiles, and you can add stories to your magazine using the + button. Flipboard also allows you to save stories you enjoy and express your views on them. All your magazines are visible in your Flipboard Profile.
This is the most vital feature as this is the backbone of the app. The application and all of its features must work perfectly. The buttons should be easily clicked, the features should work as they are supposed to and the game play (if available) should be both smooth and glitch-free.
Successful mobile apps function in the same manner, regardless of what device is used. Thus, your app should work perfectly on smartphones, tablets and even phablets. A powerful functionality makes an app stand out in the app market teeming with apps.
Example: Pinterest app – Pinterest has two apps, one for iPhone and the other for iPad. However, both the apps function exactly in the same way. The iPad app has also been tablet optimized and hence the app perfectly fits the larger screen without suffering pixilation. Pinter app has side-panel which can be easily accessed. It allows creating new boards, viewing pins, pinning your inspirations and also browsing by category.The ‘following’ tab shows in a trend collage format the people you follow. Every pin displays a photo and the following information: description, pinned by, via and onto. When you tap on a pin, the large-size version of the image is shown in a popup, and you can like, comment, repin or share it on social networks.
The app should provide a unique value through its service, whether that is in the form of entertainment or information. It should possess tangible qualities that will make users reach for it despite there being similar offerings in the market. Its value should be apparent to the users and they should know the type of value that is provided to them. Your app has to make users feel rewarded each time they use it. They should not have to go through several steps or wait for a long time to utilise its inherent value.
Example: Writing Aid app – There are very few apps that provide as much value as Writing Aid app does. Apps that provide definitions, synonym or antonyms of terms are dime a dozen in all app stores. But, there was no app that would return words or terms based on the phrases or descriptions that you wrote, before Writing Aid came to the screen.
It’s a kind of reverse thesaurus and dictionary. So, when you type something like ‘blue-green’, it returns you the exact word for that, which is ‘turquoise’. It’s essentially a writer’s best friend helping him find wordy phrases without doing extensive searches. It also displays the definition of any specific word when tapped on a word suggestion.
Freedom To Customize
Most people prefer apps that let them customize them as per their choice. The app should allow users to calibrate the settings to suit their taste and preference. The customisation can be in the form of changing the skin, colors or adding decorations to the app. This will make more people, especially those who are drawn by aesthetics, want to use this app for a longer period of time. However, it is important to remember that the customization options should not overpower the core functionality of the application.
Example: The Weather Channel app – While The Weather Channel app is not much different from the scores of other weather apps available on the app stores, it manages to retain its distinguish itself from others because of a fundamental difference. The Weather Channel exists as not only an app, but also as widgets. So, you can either have The Weather Channel app on your home screen or you can have widgets of any of the sizes 1×1, 2×2, 4×1 or 4×2 on your home screen. It also provides a bunch of options for displaying the forecasts. They can be 36-hour forecasts or 10-day forecasts. You also get the option of reporting your weather to them that then gets stored in your report history. You can get severe weather alerts, and also know things like: sunrise time, sunset time, wind speed, humidity, UV index, visibility, dew point, and pressure. You can customize what details you want to appear on the app and how you want them display. The app also provides you the option to read news stories by swiping up and down.
The app should open right away. There shouldn’t be any lags or annoying delays, as most users detest applications that start off on a bad note. If at all an animation is included in the intro, it should be clever and seductive, otherwise it only an unnecessary addition to an app and a phone’s memory.
When in operation, the app should be very fast. The transition between pages should be nothing but seamless. If there are certain pages that take longer to load, animated indicators should b used to remind the user that the app is loading the contents while keeping the users entertained.
Example: YouTube App – Although YouTube is a very heavy mobile application since it has several thousands of videos stored on its server, it is very fast and zippy. Like any other mobile app, it barely seconds to open the app, and even less time to play the videos. The app also feels quite smooth and snappy because of its inherent animations and its seamless transitions to between different screens.
Understandably, it is not possible to deliver on all promises. However, that shouldn’t completely write off the chances of success of your app. By making your app a unique specimen among a tribe of similar-looking apps, you stand the chance of hitting the bulls-eye and hence earning the jackpot. The app can have possesses some qualities or features, that are not present on any of the other apps.
Example: Flappy Bird App – Flappy Bird is a great example of app uniqueness as it defied the norms — with regard to mobile app games – on its way to the top of app downloads chart. It’s pixelated graphics, vintage visuals and ancient game structure and design (that reeked 80s video games) managed to capture the hearts and imagination of billions of users. Although the odds were heavily stacked again Flappy Bird initially having to compete against sophisticated, modern apps, it made it by standing out in a pool of all too familiar games.
There are times when a data connection or a WiFi signal is hard to come by. So, many users prefer apps that possess offline capabilities that can be used even when disconnected with the internet. Hence, an app should have features that work without a wireless signal. This makes the app so much resourceful, ensuring that the users keep coming back to the app, resulting in its continued usage.
Example: iTriageapp – iTriage is a medical app that helps you find answers to medical questions anywhere, anytime. The app has inbuilt medical information which helps you take wise health care decisions in the absence of a doctor nearby. The best part of the app is the fact that most of the features and information present on the app is available offline. So, if there is an emergency and there is no internet connectivity, you can still carry out the medical procedures described in the app. iTriage has information pertaining symptoms, causes, diseases, procedures and medications. All this information is available offline. The only features that require the use of the internet are the ones for finding nearby physicians, hospitals, clinics and medical providers.
Social Media Integration
Ingredients like social media are important to make an app self-sustaining. An app should integrate social media sites into it, which will let users recommend and share their app activities on the social sites. This will help friends and acquaintances of the users know about the app and pique their curiosity. That will, in turn, increase the visibility of your app and help it gain traction among people it would otherwise not have been able to reach.
Rewarding this social sharing can lead to an explosion of downloads and enormous publicity.
Thus, the success of an app depends on lots of factors. It’s bolstered by how well these factors are optimized and how well they interlock with each to achieve the ultimate goal. Ultimately, it lies in the hands of app developers on how they make the app user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing and efficacious through stringent development measures.
Example: Tinder app – With social media sites and apps now dominating the web and mobile space, standalone apps have no choice but to integrate the social media sites into them to enable logins. But, Tinder, in attempting to integrate social media connectivity into the app, went a step further. Tinder not only allows users to login through their Facebook, but it also allows them to see who are their common friends and what their common Likes are – everything inside Tinder. This feature gives a completely different dimension to Tinder and makes it much more interactive and fun. Moreover, Tinder also shows you what Facebook friends of yours are using the app.
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