I was asked to write up a 5-things list for Hawaii Business magazine (see earlier post here: http://www.tapiki.com/2011/11/tapiki-founder-brian-dote-in-hawaii-business-magazine/). The article didn’t include all of my original text, and for good reason! That said, I’ve decided to post the entire article I wrote.
1. Does grandma SMS?
Are your customers or those you want to influence smartphone users? If you’re building a location-based service, be sure your customers want you to know their location. If you deal with money, your customers need to trust you’ll keep their data safe. If the key viral feature is social network integration, be sure your customers even use social networks!
2. You want me to what?
What specific user behavior are you after? Are you trying to build brand awareness or capture customer leads? Are you after signups or perhaps you’re trying to increase customer loyalty. Keep your goals in mind and be sure the app is designed to facilitate the specific consumer behavior you are after. Make the desired behavior so easy your customers love doing it.
3. Smaller is not better. It’s only… smaller.
Don’t build just a smaller version of your existing website. A mobile friendly site is something all business should have but this shouldn’t be the only thing your app does.
Smartphones offer a bucket of building blocks from which to build great applications. The more pieces you connect, the more compelling and powerful the experience. Photos, videos, location, in-app purchase, and social networks. The whole is greater than a sum of its parts.
4. Building it is only half the battle.
The App Store is a pot of gold but not for everyone. Your app is one of a few hundred thousand apps fighting for downloads. Imagine American Idol with 300,000 contestants all on-stage and singing at the same time. In order for your app to be a success you need a clear marketing plan specifically tailored for mobile applications.
5. Care and feeding
All mobile apps have a lifecycle and you need to be sure your app has the care and feeding it needs to flourish. The initial application launch is the first milestone. You need to be sure you’re in it for the long haul. Respond to customer requests, complaints, bugs, and feature enhancements. Answer support emails.
Just as a static website is a dead website, the same is true for apps. No one wants to invest money or time in an app that is clearly abandoned by the app creator. Customers love apps that are continually updated with fresh content, new features, or enhancements. Nothing screams value more than an app that stays fresh.