With such an overwhelming number of apps out there, it’s hard to estimate the number of available apps. Luckily, Apple periodically reveals the stats. As of May 2017, an estimated 2.2 million apps were available in the world’s second largest app store alone! Meanwhile, Android users were able to choose between 2.8 million apps! Thus, 1-0 to Google Play and Android if we chose to only look at the numbers. Quite an amazing number indeed.
However, the explosive growth in app development since the first app was created, is not surprising when you consider that the global mobile internet user penetration has already exceeded half the world’s population. Furthermore, if we glance at the mobile usage stats, we see that millennials on average spend 185 minutes (!) on accessing daily online content from a mobile device such as a smartphone, a tablet or wearable, and Generation X spend on average 110 minutes, while boomers are way behind (or ahead, depending on how you see it) with an average of 43 minutes!
25 HARD-WON TRUTHS ABOUT APP MAKING
However, 2.8 million apps are not necessarily better than 2.2 million apps. 185 minutes not necessarily better than 43 minutes. Quality always beats quantity. Which is why some of our mobile experts at BBH Stockholm spent some 3 months developing the app handbook containing 25 hard-won truths about app making, derived from the experience of having created 100+ apps. It is written to inspire future and existing app creators. From remote stakeholders to teenage WizKids interested in joining this exciting world. It goes through the process of creating an app, how you start out, and the phases that come after; define, design, develop and deploy. Below is a teaser where we go through some of the learnings up to the define phase.
In a world where technology is so pervasive that we spend a substantial time of our life buried in the comfort of the possibilities available at our fingertips, it becomes ever so important to find the right balance of technological services.
Got an insanely great app idea? Your answer might be a ringing YES! However, if the idea doesn’t get your endorphins pumping just thinking about it, it’s probably not great enough. You need a solid idea to carry you through the storm. Use the creativity you’ve been blessed with and get the ball rolling to create something magnificent that’ll either enhance the life of many or that will better your company’s consumer approach.
The next step is to do the research. We mean proper research. Don’t shrug it off as boring. Do not believe it is the stiff and righteous counterpart of pure genius. Pure geniuses also do their research. Countless good ideas have failed because of the lack of it. Who will use it? Will enough people use it? Is it the right time to do it? Will it be profitable? Will your digital trans-formation project make those kronors, dollars or euros rain? Can you fend off competition when the slower fishes in the sea copy your successful idea?
If your idea is solid enough, it’s time to look to the three pillars of all things digital. This one goes beyond just apps. Every digital thingie is a mix of three parts: Emotion, Content, and Function. Different platforms rely on these pillars differently. Apps should have very little static content and focus on delivering a brand experience through useful functionality.
Emotion is the memorial component. What do you want the user to remember?
Content is the informal component. What does the user want to know?
The function is the actionable component. What does the user want to do?
Talking from years of experience (and 100’s of digital services built), we emphasize that our customers and partners envision creating habits, not apps. Simplified, that’s how your customers become collaborators and help to build your brand. Thus, increasing your profits. Turn the user into a superhero and he or she will help in turning your company into a super company. Great app designers aim to make the user better, and since every customer is his or her own individual, messages and usage have to be personalized.
By now you’d know what you want, and it would be time to research how to get it. Building an app requires Designers, Developers and Production Management. Everyone knows that. But if you want bang for your buck, you’ll probably need a clever strategist, an able analyst, and a highly imaginative creative too. However, the most important resource is you, your ideas and the creativity that comes with it.
Solve a problem. People don’t download apps, they install functions. Or better up, try fusing many problems into one. Compare Uber to any taxi out there and you’ll be struck by how coherently smooth Uber feels compared to the other “hacks”. That is because Uber has fused many problems into one engaging consumer journey.
Decide whether the app you are creating is a painkiller or vitamin. Painkiller apps provide a remedy for something that sucks in everyday life. Their solutions tend to look back, asking: why? On the other side of the spectrum is the vitamin app that enhances the consumer journey. They provide a need. These solutions tend to look forward, asking: what if? Most companies choose this path, as painkillers are often easier to spot and execute as they solve tangible problems. Vitamin apps are for black belt app makers only. They are often hard to market. But the upside is great. Just think about it, who needed Facebook before it existed? It provided a need.
SLIPPY OR STICKY?
As far back as any care to remember, apps have focused on being sticky. That is, immersive experiences designed to be engaging and make the user come back for more. Or, you could aim to be different. Instead of forming a bond with users by grabbing their attention you can become an invisible part of their lives. Slippy apps are designed for glance-ability, minimal information and for use in high-stress situations. The goal is to seamlessly integrate the right information for the right moment.
If you want to learn more about how to bring your app-ideas to life, how we envision transforming your users to collaborators or if you just happen to be generally interested in digitalisation, app building and how it bleeds out into all parts of the web, please sign up to receive the app handbook free of charge and learn more about the other phases, on-boarding and optimization. We’re spreading the love and will gladly help you to move at the speed of opportunity.