5 tips for developing successful mobile apps

How do you ensure your mobile app is both useful and appealing? We look at some top tips

The initial rush to build mobile apps is settling down, and none too soon. The world has endured the release of a whole lot of mediocre, or even useless, mobile apps. App stores everywhere are chock-full of them. Many companies were gripped by a burning need to create mobile apps for little more than bragging rights. What such apps did for users was often an afterthought. As a result, many corporate apps have languished in app libraries with very few downloads.

Some organisations will probably let it rest there, but others may learn from their mistakes and set out to create better apps. Here are some best practices your company can employ to ensure any apps you develop in the future are more intriguing to users:

1. In order to succeed, a mobile app must solve a problem, deliver important functionality, save time or money, entertain or enlighten, or offer a novel service. To put it another way: Successful mobile apps deliver useful benefits to the user.

A good example of an app that does something useful comes from Bank of America. Available in Android and iOS versions, the software lets you deposit a paper cheque by taking pictures of both sides of the check. The entire process takes about two minutes.

As a rule of thumb, anything the Web already does well doesn't need an app. That's why delivering your content, creating a marketing brochure or engaging in e-commerce are not especially useful benefits for a mobile app to deliver. Bottom line: Don't start building an app until you have a rock-solid idea.

2. Focus on one thing and do it well. Having experienced more than one planning committee for mobile apps leads this writer to believe this may be the most important recommendation. It's far too easy to go feature crazy, which could wind up derailing your project later in the process. Brainstorming is good; let the ideas flow. But when you have exhausted that process, pare the ideas down to the best one or two.

3. If you build it ... nope, they probably won't come. App stores aren't a direct channel to everyone who has a tablet or smartphone. In fact, unless you're in the business of developing software, you're probably better off spending your business development dollars in some other fashion. If lots of downloads are important to you, you'll have to do a good deal of promotion.

4. Apps need optional user notifications. With most mobile apps, the user must launch the application to check on new developments. Notifications aren't appropriate for every app, but when it makes sense to add them, don't miss the opportunity to do so.

5. Don't force users to run your app instead of visiting the corporate website, and don't make them go to the mobile version of the site (but do make a mobile version available). Mobile screens are getting bigger, and 4G services makes the Web much more usable on mobile devices. Tablets in particular don't need a dumbed-down mobile version of your website.

Mobile browsers are improving. Instead of thinking that you can build an app that replaces your website, concentrate on improving the user experience and utility of the mobile version of your website.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Cannes 2017: The Machines Are Here

It’s day 4 in Cannes and among the ever-growing divergent panels, presentations and workshops spanning from one end of the Croisette to the other, there has been a very real emergence of how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning needs to fit into the marketing ecosystem of today and tomorrow.

Aden Hepburn

Executive creative director and managing director, VML Australia

Is your content marketing missing the mark?

Does it ever seem like the content you create falls flat on its face or that the leads you’re generating aren’t worth following up?

Dan Ratner

managing director, uberbrand

​ Creating a purpose-driven brand

So you want to be a brand with purpose. But what does it actually mean to build a brand with real meaning?

Paul Chappell

Partner and managing director, Brand + Story

Typo"claiming no other email service protects its users form spam, hacking and phishing as successfully as Gmail"I'm sure Google can help...

OlliesBlog

Google to stop scanning personal Gmail accounts for ad targeting

Read more

It is interesting. Rebrand is very good. Perhaps they should change the logo to something more modern. For example as it is - https://www...

David Hill

Grace Group undergoes first rebrand in 30 years to unify and contemporise

Read more

Hey Guys, just one small typo that changes a part of the story :“That was a really big step forward for our company because we didn’t hav...

Damian Young

Chobani tastes success with data analytics platform

Read more

This is amazing! Congratulations to Cochlear for continuing to lead innovation in every way!

Chris

How this marketing ops leader is lifting the automation ante at Cochlear

Read more

Interesting case! It seems like universities can also benefit from marketing automation. I've started using getresponse some time ago and...

Aaren

How marketing automation is helping drive CX change at Adelaide University

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in