Top ten tips for creating a smartphone app for your business
Thinking of creating a smartphone app but no idea where to
start? Neil Waller, co-founder of MyDestinationInfo.com, shares his tips on how
to develop an app for your business. He launched the MyDestinationInfo
smartphone app earlier this year, offering users local travel
guides, a personal trip planner and exclusive offers for different
1. Define The Target Audience
Before you start developing, decide who your target audience is.
Each type of handset tends to have a different type of user, so you
need to know who you want to reach. Developing an app for iPhone,
Blackberry, Android and Nokia is a costly process as each handset
has different usability requirements. It's almost like having to
make four different apps. Pick your audience and then pick the
handsets to focus on.
Defining your audience will also help when it comes to branding
as you'll need to decide how much and what type of branding to use.
Are you keeping your corporate style or toning it down? Once you've
identified who is going to be downloading the app, you can work
your style and branding accordingly.
2. Do Your Research
Market research is a fancy way of saying "Look at what
other people are doing and don't make the same mistakes."
Coming up with creative solutions in the development and design of
your app starts with analysing other applications. Learn from the
best and worst examples in the App Store and make a note of their
flaws and successes.
3. Find a Niche, Be Original, Have a Good
It sounds simple, but as with any product it needs to be based
on a good idea. It's almost always going to be necessary to think
of an app as a separate product, rather than a carbon copy of your
website. Take a look at your business and then come up with a clean
and simple idea that can be reflected in the app. In such a
competitive market you need to think of something new and different
to capture people's attention.
4. Define Your Objective
What is the purpose of the app? Why should people download it.
Is it for entertainment, as a source of information or does it
serve a more practical purpose?
5. Check Out the Competition
This is vital. In order to be original you need to know what
else is out there competing in the same space. There's no point
launching something that has already been done.
6. To Monetise or Not to
Decisions on monetisation largely depend on what you are looking
to achieve with the app. If you are predominantly using it as a
marketing tool to help establish your brand, it may be best to
focus on getting as many downloads as possible by offering a free
On the flip side, apps can present a significant revenue
opportunity; some apps have become multi-million pound
It's likely that the cost of development will influence your
decision on whether to monetise. Although the industry is still
relatively young, there is a huge range of companies from
established agencies to individuals, all offering a wealth of
expertise. It's worth shopping around as you can still get a great
price for an app with a company who will work effectively with you
to deliver what you need.
Be wary of companies who might be looking to use your project as
a learning experience and always ask to see a live demo of their
previous work, not just screen grabs.
7. Keep it Simple
Apps are refined, streamlined versions of the user's full web
browsing experience. When you're working with a developer, consider
whether the app needs all of the full web functionality to fulfil
its core function. If not, look to provide a slimmed down version
of your site's features or another function which is complimentary
to your business. The latter being particularly important if you
already have a .mobi website, a mobile version of the full
8. Decide How to
Once you're happy with the app you'll need to think about the
best way to promote it. This will depend on the type of business
you have but focused promotion to the target audience needs to be
considered in advance. Angry Birds was the second app ever to have
a YouTube trailer, and it had a huge impact. We have created a
short, informative video for the MyDestinationInfo.com app.
9. Harness Feedback
Make sure you get some constructive feedback. App users are
often happy to provide constructive criticism and suggestions for
improving its usability. Make sure you listen to what your
customers are telling you and update your app accordingly.
10. Make the most out of what Smartphones
You need to know how smartphones work and how people use apps on
them. Keep things simple yet innovative and most importantly -
The best apps play to the benefits and functionality of the
smartphone as a device. For example, The AA's app allows the user
to find the cheapest petrol pumps near the user's location. Tesco's
much- publicised app lets you scan barcodes to add products to your
shopping list. In summary, you'd do well to incorporate a
location-based service or feature on your app.
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