Carla White
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For those who think that app success is reserved for software giants with budgets the size of the Gobi Desert or technical geniuses that rival Mark Zuckerberg, think again. Although the market might seem impenetrable to the average person who has wonderful ideas but not necessarily the technical wits to produce them, the truth is that creating a successful app is not rocket science.

Take a look at tap tap tap and Tapbots – these guys have created one hit app after. To understand how, I interviewed them and other successful app developers and researched the top selling apps. I discovered that app success isn’t about luck. There’s actually a formula involved which boils down into three principles of success.

Principle #1: Make Apps People Want

The best app ideas give us more of what makes us happy or less of what doesn’t. These are the apps we tell our friends about. So instead of thinking of the features of your app, think about the benefits.

  • Success is inversely proportional to the size of the market you target.

To discover what your audience wants more of, you have to start small. This lets you be a big fish and in their small pond. It also keeps your features and designs focused and not watered down by trying to please too many people.

Give them superpowers to make their life easier, help them solve a problem, or rescue them from boredom. Use data like location, friends and favourites to customise your app to their needs.

  • Constantly entertain us.

Whether it’s a calculator or a game, it has to entertain. You do this by giving your app personality through the colours, sounds and screen transitions. Plant surprises that we can both discover and seek out. This shifts it from being a piece of software into a friend that connects with our human qualities and emotional values. People will be more inclined to share your app and more forgiving when it doesn’t work.

  • Strategise a world of social interaction.

Let your fans market your app for you — but this means more than slapping on some Facebook and Twitter buttons. You need to engage your audience by creating competitions, rewards for sharing, and incentives to keep coming back.

Principle #2: Make It Easy Peasy

The ‘packaging’ is only part of the equation. Your app must be so easy to use that anyone can grasp it in less than 15 seconds. Your design can rival a Monet but if it’s confusing or burdensome, people won’t get it.

  • Start with pencil and paper.

If you can draw basic shapes, arrows, and stick figures, you’re set. Pencil & paper give you artistic freedom design software could never deliver because we get lost in colours and fonts, wasting hours and leading us in the wrong direction.

  • Test your designs on real people.

Not everyone thinks the same way so won’t use your app as you do either. Test every iteration of your designs, starting with paper sketches, computer mockups and final designs. Even asking your neighbour is better than not testing your designs at all.

  • Make a fantastic first impression.

First impression can be almost impossible to reverse, and set the course for the flood of opinions that follow; ultimately leading to the decision to download the app. To make that first impression count, you need to understand what makes an app icon notable and the app name memorable – so we can remember it and tell our friends.

Principle #3: Market Your App First

Most app developers don’t start thinking about marketing until the app is developed or worse, just put it out there saying “there you go”. As soon as you have a good notion about your app idea, get the word out and start building your audience.

  • You are a story teller.

Don’t just think of yourself as just an app creator; you’re also a storyteller. We all want a good story, so give us one.

To truly be successful, create a killer video and build your app to fit that video. That might sound crazy, but you will have an insanely successful app. Do everything you can to collect email addresses. They are like gold when your app launches.

  • Get to know famous bloggers & journalists.

Post considerate comments on their pages, reply to their tweets and slowly get to know them. When you’re ready to launch, compose a personal message to that person so she will actually read it, appreciate it and most importantly, want to talk about your app.

  • Share everything.

Finally, make your audience come to you because they want to hear what you have to say. Give away everything — your secrets, your brand, your app, your customers, your knowledge. Write for other blogs, create videos, write a book, get up and present.

Carla White is author of Idea to iPhone®: The essential guide to creating your first app for the iPhone and iPad (Wiley, RRP £19.99)

Terms and Conditions

  • The prize is for one winner selected at random
  • Entrants should send an email to enquiries@bdaily.co.uk with the subject heading ‘Ideas to iPhone’ for their chance to win
  • Competition deadline: 5pm on the 12th July 2013

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Bdaily offers .

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