Friday, September 7, 2012

What makes a successful app? Keep it simple

If you create a time management tool and think people might also want to store photos as part of it, think it through carefully--those sound like very different things. Maybe there are limited elements of the one that can be incorporated into the other or maybe these should be two separate apps that can share data.

Keep it simple.

So, the next question we asked ourselves about the new app idea was:

Is the app concept simple enough?

For our latest idea, we are using our network of friends and business contacts to review our app and offer feedback about whether it is simple enough. For now, we are still fine-tuning. For you, maybe it's more clear, but here are some things we have been thinking about as we evaluate whether to combine several functions and features that may not seem like obvious siblings:
  • What does the user gain from combining them? It's fine if we save money by developing them in the same app, but think in terms of user experience. It's about creating a tool or experience that is user-friendly, not confusing or opaque. 
  • Can I explain what my app does in one clear sentence or phrase? Say that one clear sentence of phrase to someone you don't know and see if they understand what your app is supposed to be/do without you needing to clarify anything major. For example, if my app tracks my exercise routine and has a feature that allows me to take a picture of me at the beginning and end of each activity and add a time stamp and choose from a picklist of activities so that these photos are cataloged for later analysis (of how frequently and how long do I run on the treadmill each week), how can I say that in less words than I just did it?! It's logical, if quirky, so you should be able to say this better. If your app does time management and photo storage and has a word game feature, you may have too much explaining to do.

Users want straightforward, intuitive tools. It's not that we are advocating the dumbing down of apps. There are some very successful apps that do complicated things. Think of simple as meaning "understandable" and you'll get it right.

And, when your business partner says he will pull out of the project if you won't add that out-of-place feature, take his picture with SoDunked! and dunk away!

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