How to create genuinely valuable mobile apps
The other week, I was in a restaurant that lets you both order your food and then pay through its app. Being of a techy persuasion, I decided to give this a go. And while the process worked, I felt it rather detracted from the restaurant experience. It made the whole thing a bit faceless and impersonal.
Granted, this quasi-self-service experience will appeal to some – perhaps if you’re in a hurry, as you can now order and pay with the latest app from a well-known coffee shop. But it also illustrates how important it is to think holistically when you’re creating an app. Who is it offering value to? How does it offer value? How does it impact on other parts of your customer experience? And most importantly, will it encourage people to continue using it and keep engaging with you?
What makes a great app?
When you release an app, you’re asking potential users to make an investment of their time to go to the app store, download your creation, possibly set up an account and then start using it. In return, you need to make absolutely sure it offers them something genuinely useful. If you don’t, it only takes a few seconds for them to send your app to the bin – and with it some of your brand’s hard-earned reputation.
So, what makes an app truly valuable? Firstly, great apps enable you to do something you couldn’t otherwise do. For me a great example is a star gazing app I have had since my iPhone 3. It’s a well-designed augmented reality (AR) stargazing app which I would only get from having a pin hole star chart or Sir Patrick Moore sitting next to me whilst I look up at the night sky.
Secondly, great apps make people want to use them again and again. While it may be appealing to invest lots of time and money into creating something that delivers a ‘wow’ factor when you launch it, if it isn’t useful once the initial excitement has died down, it’ll be consigned to the ‘gimmick’ pile. What makes an app sticky is ultimately making it part of users daily life. Just take a look on your smartphone and tablet at the apps you have installed and question when you last used them. Great apps stick to you because they provide you with a unique experience, service or need and they do it well.