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3 Ways to Validate Your App Idea

posted May 4, 2015, 2:14 PM by Jeff Harward

Got an app idea with incredible potential?

Now you're asking yourself, "will it scale?" Is is really a market for your grand idea?



Google It!
It might be that simple. Use the Google Keyword Planner tool, a keyword search and traffic estimator, to look for the number of people looking for your solution.

Type in words associated with your app idea, like the problem you are trying to solve, the benefit or other terms associated with your concept. Put the keywords in the search box, select the target country or countries and Google will show you the number of average monthly searches. 

Minimum Viable Product
"Market research and business planning are overrated," says best-selling author and entrepreneur, Guy Kawasaki. "The best market research is putting a product out and seeing if people will buy it. The best business plan is to create something great and sell it fast.”

Writing a business plan with projections through market research is a sure way to kill you great idea. Nothing beats an actual customer using your app. So how do you get to the customer when you're at the idea stage and don't want to spend a huge sum of money building an app they don't want?

Instead of spending money you don't have on market research, build a minimum viable product (MVP). Create something as quickly as possible that addresses the problem you are trying to solve or demonstrates the core value of your product. Your MVP could be a PowerPoint slide presentation, a dialogue box or a landing page. This is something you can often build in a day or a week. A prototype can be an actual functioning stripped-down app with the core features offered.

Landing Page
You don't have an app yet but still want to get customers to sign up? Then landing pages are your best friend. Create a teaser or promotional landing page, which highlights the core proposition of your startup.

Ask for email addresses in return for an offer or simply to be updated about when the app is launched. The number of email subscribers can help predict how many people are interested in your app. Use simple platforms like Launchrock or KickoffLabs to create your landing page. Once your landing page is up, point your social marketing to this landing page. 

Whatever your path, make sure you build something that your customers want before spending valuable time and effort.

App Navigation

posted May 1, 2015, 1:38 PM by Jeff Harward

We've previously discussed the importance of designing your app with instant user engagement in mind. App designers have created a number of ways to put users in the useful part of the app immediately. Good app designs have reduced nested menu systems in favor of of flatter navigation tools like tab bars and side bars.

Since Facebook implemented the side drawer navigation model a couple of years ago, hundreds of apps have followed suit. The "burger" icon is becoming more and more common in app design.

Apple, on the other hand has stuck with it's tab bar navigation controller on most of it's own apps, like iTunes, iTunes Connect and Photos.

So which navigation tool is right for your app?

If most of the user experience takes place in a single view and it’s only things like user settings and options that need to be accessed in separate screens, then keeping the main UI nice and clean by burying those in a side menu is the way to go.

On the other hand, if your app has multiple views that users will engage with somewhat equally, then side navigation could cost you a great deal of your potential user engagement. In this case, some kind of ever present navigation bar is a better bet.

Make Sharing Your App Easy

posted Apr 29, 2015, 3:53 PM by Jeff Harward   [ updated Apr 30, 2015, 9:24 AM ]

Great apps make social sharing easy and seamless. They make sharing an effortless part of how the app works so that users don't even need to think about it.

Here are some suggestions that will help you design an app that eliminates obstacles and doubts that users might have about using your app and sharing it with friends. 

1) Offer one-click facebook and twitter login. This one's pretty obvious. Facebook login, for example, does three things. It simplifies the login process, it enables the app to capture additional useful information about the user and it reduces initial user registration time. 



2) Motivate users on the first screen to get started by clearly showing how they can grow their network and start sharing.

3) Prioritize what is on the screen, and show top actions right in view. Users need to know what they can do.

4) Enable users to easily post to multiple social platforms with just one tap. 


5) Always make sharing part of the creation process.

Make Your App Viral

posted Apr 28, 2015, 11:00 AM by Jeff Harward

With very few exceptions, the only way to achieve a monetarily successful app is to make it viral. In the cluttered world of apps, successful apps are those that are willingly shared by users.

Building a viral app takes a lot more than bolting on some Twitter and Facebook buttons. It requires implementing a social sharing strategy in the basic function of the app.


To become viral your app has to have 4 characteristics:

1) It must have something valuable to share.
2) It must make it easy for users to share and for friends to join.
3) It must reward users for sharing and offer them incentives to come back.
4) The more people use the app, the more value must be created for them.

When planning your app, start there. Make sure that it creates something that users will want to share.

App Store and Play Store Q1 Results

posted Apr 15, 2015, 3:02 PM by Jeff Harward

Apple's increased App Store revenue helped it reverse a trend that saw Google Play slowly catch up in revenue over recent quarters, although the Play Store continued to widen its lead in overall downloads.

Other Q5, 2015 App Store Results
  • App Store revenues were about 70% higher than Play Store Revenues
  • Play Store received about 70% more downloads than App Store in the quarter
  • For the first time,  China passed the U.S. as the top country for iOS app downloads

HTML Apps or Native Apps?

posted Apr 15, 2015, 1:14 PM by Jeff Harward   [ updated Apr 16, 2015, 7:41 AM ]

There is an ongoing debate among mobile app developers about whether apps should be built in the native language of the platform (Java, for Android, and Objective C or Swift for iOS) or, instead, built using traditional web tools of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. 

Not long after the App Stores started gaining steam, third parties began developing tools to enable developers to quickly and easily bundle existing web solutions into native wrappers, allowing them to post their apps on the app stores. These cross-platform development tools have proliferated and become more and more powerful.

HTML Apps

There are a lot of good reasons to take this approach. The web's been around a lot longer than apps have and web developers with HTML and JavaScript expertise are easier to find than native app coders. Or maybe you have a website that accomplishes pretty much what you need but you also want the retail space the stores provide. Simple, put it in a WebView and publish it to the stores.

HTML is recently being pushed as a great way to test your concept. Build your proof of concept quick and dirty in HTML and get it into the wild to see how your users respond. Can you create a minimum viable product in HTML to get quick traction? If so, you probably should.

If you want to get to multiple platforms cheaply and quickly, HTML may be your best bet.

Native Apps

Even it your early apps are created in HTML, you may find that you have to move to a Native build once your app begins gaining traction. Both Facebook and LinkedIn launched on App Store with HTML products before learning pretty quickly that they were going to have to move to native developments.

If you need a feature rich app and performance is critical, native development is the only realistic option. 

Both Android and iOS have huge communities of coders creating open source SDKs and Libraries that can be bundled into native apps to easily add advanced functionality. Need a video editing tool? You'll have a bunch to choose from. Maybe your app needs a bar code reader. No problem, there's an SDK for that.

Conclusion

So the answer is, not surprisingly, "it depends". Do you have a current website that you'd like to package up and put on the app stores? Go with some kind of HTML solution. Do you have a simple idea that you'd like to get into as many stores as inexpensively as possible? Again, HTML is probably your answer. If, on the other hand, you have a feature-rich app idea, you expect to continue to expand your app's functionality, and you see your app competing head-to-head with similar apps, native is really your only choice.

Which choice is right for you? Contact us to talk through your specific requirements. Request a Quote

5 Decisions Before Starting Your App

posted Apr 7, 2015, 10:04 AM by Jeff Harward   [ updated Apr 7, 2015, 11:38 AM ]


Maybe you’ve realized your company needs an app. Here’s a quick guide to 5 initial considerations as you plan your project:

1. Purpose

Earning money or promoting an existing business? Branding or just another expansion? Though most of the people know what the purpose of their app is but not all of them are sure about it. Just be sure of the purpose next time you plan for your app and jot it down so that you don’t mess up with your overall approach and the underlying goal.

2. Platform

Apple or Android? Both? Or Hybrid? Your decision here will depend largely on the purpose of the app. Is this app designed to be a revenue generator? If so, you might consider iOS first. Though iPhones only account for about a quarter of total Smartphone sales today, iPhone users are still far more inclined than Android users to pay for apps.

Android, on the other hand, continues to expand its lead in total users. If reaching the most potential users is your goal. You might develop for Android first.

For simple functionality, hybrid apps are worth considering. It is certainly possible to create an HTML app that can be deployed to both App Store and Android Market.

3. Free or paid

If you have a really niche app with sophisticated features go for a paid version. If you are building an app for Android, do a little bit of research and look for similar apps as most of them are free, especially for entertainment and games. The idea is you should not look pricey or unreasonable.

A common approach is to release a free app with In-app purchases for upgraded functionality that act as an extension to your app’s preliminary features.

4. Outsource or build it in-house

App creation requires knowledge of the native language of the platform. Even a hybrid app needs to be put into a native “wrapper” before being submitted to the relevant store. Also, about 90% of the apps that we create for our customers rely on data provided by a cloud-server. That certainly makes sense, your smartphone is a sophisticated communication device and the best apps take advantage of that.

So, in nearly every case a wide range of languages and skills are required for development and deployment of an app. Some organizations have all of the required skill sets in-house, most don’t.

5. Deployment

What’s your strategy for deploying your App. Are you going to create a fully developed native app for each platform before deploying? Or, perhaps you prefer the Mailbox App approach. Release a simple app with more functions on the way as you grow your customer base.

Contact Us

We're happy to discuss your upcoming decisions. Let us know your thoughts about your app.

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Two Stats Point to the Power of Apps

posted Mar 23, 2015, 11:14 AM by Jeff Harward   [ updated Apr 27, 2015, 10:49 AM ]


Two recent statistics illustrate why any venture needs to build an App into their marketing plan.

The first stat is from Nielsen, the TV ratings guys. According to them, Smartphones are the third highest electronic media platform, behind only television and radio and ahead of computers. On average, Americans spend nearly an hour and a half each day on their mobile devices. And that number's growing rapidly.



The second significant stat is that 86% of total time on mobile devices is spent on apps as opposed to mobile browsing, which accounts for only 14% of mobile usage. 



These two statistics point to why more and more enterprises are making apps a focal point of their marketing strategy.

Getting started on your own mobile app strategy isn't as hard or expensive as you might think. Contact us with your questions about how to implement your app marketing plan. Request a Quote

Thinking about a website? Think App first.

posted Feb 17, 2015, 11:16 AM by Jeff Harward   [ updated Apr 13, 2015, 11:45 AM ]




Remember when entrepreneurs used to open shop by creating a web page? Those days are over. Here’s why it makes more sense to start with an app:

1) You’ll be visible to your customers at all times

The average American spends more than 2 hours a day on his or her mobile device. Being visible there can be a big advantage to your business.

2) It’s a direct marketing channel

Through push notifications you’re getting even closer to a direct interaction, and can easily remind customers about your products and services whenever it makes sense.

3) An App could give you much better mindshare

On average, people have 26 apps installed on their phones. So, you’re competing with 26 other apps for attention. But that’s nothing! Think about how many websites you compete with online. Hint: It’s in the MILLIONS.

Thinking of creating a website for a new venture or updating your current website? It’s probably best to think Mobile App first.

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