Apps

Want 'Right' Swipes on Your App? Here's How to Make Your App a Star.

Apps are smoking hot, but is yours attractive enough to stand out? Try these three strategies to create the 'it' app of 2018.
Want 'Right' Swipes on Your App? Here's How to Make Your App a Star.
Image credit: skaman306 | Getty Images
Guest Writer
CEO, Rocksauce Studios
7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Looks like users are "swiping right" (saying "yes") on app usage: Some 70 percent of Americans are adding a new app each month, increasing the number of apps per user to 80 or more, according to app-market insights firm App Annie.

Related: 6 Time-Tested Tips for Designing a Killer App for Your Brand

According to TechCrunch, the nearly $86 billion app industry is on the track for record growth in several key countries, including heavily populated China, India and the United States.

In other words, apps are smoking hot. But, like Tinder photos, they're definitely not all created equal. And entrepreneurs and small businesses that understand what consumers want and need can better position themselves to create an app that isn't a one-day wonder. Below are several ways to do that.

First, the show-stealing app traits you should imitate

What characteristics do the strongest apps share? At their core, they dip into people's unfettered desire to consume. Whether it's food or information (especially in list form), humans crave not just the news, but also the "new." With the world in their pockets, they've developed a 24/7 need for fresh tweets, posts, comments, stories, photographs, videos and jokes. Forget about this morning's headliner recipe; only hours later, cooks are demanding a new and different culinary concoction altogether.

Popular mobile apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter are all leaders at tapping into this demand for instantaneous connections and ideas. Still, people also have their limits: If a piece is TL;DR ("too long; didn't read"), it's dead on arrival. Even oiginality isn't enough. Apps have to have functionality that matches user demand.

So, how can you create an app that people go to on their own volition, as opposed to merely a place where they arrive after clicking a link?

Axios, the political and business news website, is an example: Its philosophy, as relayed to the Wall Street Journal is to give readers the gist of a story and even note the word count of those quick-hit summaries."This kind of concise, snappy content is both digestible and satisfactory," Axios co-founder and president Roy Schwartz told the WSJ. "The truth is that about 80 percent of readers don’t even make it past the first few hundred words of a news story, let alone a native ad.”

Tinder is another great example. It also promotes both new and continued users (while also having figured out a solid pricing model). By allowing new users to easily set up their profiles via a link to their Facebook page, Tinder has boosted its attractiveness to those users. This means that when you set up a Tinder profile you can connect it to your Facebook for example and it will pull in information about your work, your photo, etc. 

Plus, it taps into people's baser instincts -- the tendency to judge and segment others -- to keep people coming back.

Creating an app for today's app-infused world

Of course, all this time people spend on devices inevitably leads to a discussion about addiction and device-maker culpability. Even Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, has called himself a "conscientious objector" of the app industry.

Yet understanding and learning about how people work -- both the mental and physical aspects -- is how entrepreneurs and small businesses develop products that people want.

In fact, app software should tap into users' feelings of satisfaction as they browse vital information. Without this core quality, no degree of inventiveness by companies will prompt the level of consumer use and loyalty that app makers seek.

Related: How You Can Win Big From the Changes to Apple's App Store

To make your app one of the hottest of 2018, then, consider these three tips:

1. Don't "bury the lead." Years ago, journalists could bury leads -- an industry catchphrase meaning taking too long to get to the point. But that strategy no longer works. Whatever you're delivering to your audience must be kept front and center.

Keeping feeds updated with new information is now a requirement for software, because people want to see the most current information quickly and then see a site update and deliver new data. This tactic is similar to the "cult of immediacy" tactic, a sales technique in which salespeople give a prospect exactly the data he or she needs -- no more, no less -- at exactly the point it's needed.

According to a report by comScore, apps constituted 87 percent of users' mobile minute usage in 2017. While that number sounds like a lot, it translates to an average of only 73.8 hours a month -- or fewer than two and a half hours per day, according to App Annie's report. With so little daily time spent on apps and so many apps to choose among, users need to see what they're looking for before they'll include your app in that narrow window.

2. Make your dialogue with users succinct. As Axios seems to indicate, people don't necessarily want more than a snippet of information. In fact, if you give them a mouthful, they might spit it out. So, be straightforward, and include details that add just enough context to whatever you're delivering to your consumers. Then give them the chance to continue to learn or to move on to the next offering.

TheSkimm, an informal newsletter that disseminates the day's headlines for on-the-go readers, is a great example of the kind of punchy, poignant material that consumers are into. Recently, the company announced that it's also launching a podcast. TheSkimm's co-founders, Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg, describe the podcast as a no-b.s. look at "real stories from women who are leaders in their fields." Like TheSkimm, you too should make your language simple and succinct.

3. Practice the art of the K.I.S.S. (Keep the interface simple, stupid). Users don't want to engage with design features they don't need, so go easy on the navigation and task bars. Of course, eliminating these features may make designing an app more challenging. But your users will thank you for not overwhelming them with needless activities, because the more difficult you make your interface, the less likely it is to attract users.

At each point in your design process, then, ask yourself if you're trying to cram an elephant into a mouse-sized box. If the answer is yes, you have some old-fashioned whittling to do. Otherwise, you'll be unlikely to make that much-needed conversion from ephemeral user to devoted fan.

Related: 4 Questions to Help You Price Your App in a 'Freemium' World

So, whether your app's been on the market for months or it's still on the drawing board, you can and should evaluate its effectiveness by thinking about how to get information into the foreground, prioritize conciseness and keep the design simple.

In these ways, you'll position your app to lead the crowded software pack as 2018 unfolds. And you'll be more likely to prompt users to swipe right.

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