20 Sep, 2012
To App Or Not To App? That Is The Question – Bev James
Technology continues to race ahead at warp speed. The world’s first website went live in 1991. Now, 22 years later there are over half a billion active websites.
As a business owner, author and mentor I wanted to find out whether developing an App of my book would be of benefit to my business. I liked the idea of having my own app but wasn’t prepared to invest my own money solely for vanity reasons – the product would have to have a purpose and offer added value to the user.
In the early stages, in addition to deciding what content to include, we also needed to decide whether to sell the App or give it away. In the brave new world of sales and marketing the value of building relationships cannot be underestimated. I decided to give away my App for free, which meant I was able to share valuable content, at no cost to the consumer.
If you are thinking of developing your own App, I hope the tips below will help you decide whether ‘to App or not to App?’ (with apologies to Shakespeare).
Here are my Top 8 tips for App development (based on my experience):
1. Have a strategy
An idea on its own is not a strategy. Just because you have an idea for an App doesn’t make it a viable proposition. It is important to define what you are hoping to achieve.
Next, consider what your business model will look like. You can’t just throw an App on the App store and hope it will be found. You need to get the word out. An App needs to be marketed like any product and any other customer-facing aspect of your business.
2. Make sure it solves a problem and delivers value
Create an App that solves a problem; not one that just regurgitates the content on your website. People like to use Apps that serve a purpose, whether it is information driven, makes them laugh, helps with productivity, etc.
People need a reason to download an App so when creating one, ask yourself, “What’s in it for my customer?” “Why would they want this App?” Think about the potential benefits.
3. Make sure your customer wants to come back for more
You need to give your customer a reason to keep returning to the App. The majority of then, once installed, are looked at once and never revisited. The content and features within your App need to be kept constantly up-to-date and reusable.
4. Make it social
Allow the App to market itself by making it social. Build in benefits and features that inspire social sharing on Twitter, Facebook etc. Remember, you are building a viral tool now, for a viral society.
5. Build in analytics
Make sure you integrate analytics so you can learn how, when and where your App is being used – and by what kind of audience. You can identify your best segments by demographic, personal interests, geography, style of usage and more.
6. Test and test again
Apps live and die by their ratings and the reviews they receive via the App store. I have read countless reviews for Apps where customers are complaining about the App crashing and so give it one-star write up.
I highly recommend coordinating a closed beta-testing phase, so the App is very well tested and you can respond to insightful feedback before the launch, rather than after it is too late.
7. Build in contingency for App Store review and possible rejection
Build in contingency time for the review phase and the possibility of your App being rejected by the App Store. Their acceptance guidelines are constantly updated so don’t get caught out, or you might miss the big ‘go-live’ date.
8. Work with professionals
I said from the very beginning of the process, that I would rather not have an App at all, than have a second rate one. I chose to work with a company called Paper Bag Ltd. Working closely with Gary Gallagher made the journey far less daunting and the advice and guidance he gave me was invaluable.
Even though it has only been a few weeks since the launch of my App there have been several thousand downloads, positive reviews and, most importantly, great feedback from users who are finding the tools and techniques very useful. I’m glad I ventured into the world of Apps and look forward to the journey ahead wherever that may lead.
To download the FREE app from the app store click the image below:
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