Talking on designing apps for success

September 11, 2013

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting AppCampus in Helsinki. While there, I spent time with each of the teams in residence reviewing their apps and their app strategy, and I even did a short talk to the group that starts from the subject of app decay and what developers should consider to avoid decay and be successful. It was a great having the opportunity to engage with so many new app devs and to see the fresh ideas that folks are bringing to life for the mobile app market; but I also noted a continuing trend where app devs focus on birthing their apps while neglecting their upbringing. Smile

Since I joined the team, the topic of ‘success’ for the average/breadth mobile developer has been a top of mind item for me. And while there are a number of factors that contribute to the success of one’s app, perhaps the success factor that is most overlooked by developers is focusing on a meaningful user engagement.

As I talk to app developers about their apps, most talk about building a functional app that accomplishes some purpose and potentially then talk about the user experience and adding polish that presents their functionality in some compelling fashion. Some will then talk about app discovery and download numbers. But very tend to think about their go to market strategy for their app, let alone talk about.

And so that is the topic I engaged the AppCampus teams on:

  • The need to understand the user
    (who are they? what do they care about? why are they in your app, anyway?)
  • The need to understand how your user wants to be engaged
    (what will bring them back? what will they find valuable?)
  • The need for you and your users to discover one another
    (what’s your launch strategy? where are your advocates? how will you grow?)

Developers continue to be caught in the age-old trap of believing that they are their customer and that they should develop their app for their tastes and scope the features and user experience to their preferences. And so they build an app to their own needs (and perhaps ask their wife to give them usability feedback), they release it to the store, and then wonder why they get only about 200 or so downloads.

If you really want to succeed, you need to think ahead and have a go to market strategy. To do otherwise, in the words of a dev I met a couple months ago, ‘is like buying an electric guitar and expecting to have a hit single.’

I’ll drill into these topics more in a series blog posts on factors that contribute to an app developer’s success. But, in the meantime, feel free to enjoy my slides on the topic; I admit that they may be a bit limited in their usefulness without the talk track, but I’ll flesh that out in the coming weeks as your interest and my time allows.

Cliff Simpkins


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