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3 Things to Know When Making an App for Generation Z

Get ahead of the curve and meet Generation Z – The global, social and technological mobile app consumers.

 

The widespread popularity of smartphones and mobile technology owes much of its rapid adoption to Generation Y. That may seem like a ‘narcissistic millennial’ thing to say, but this cohort of young adults aged 18-34 grew up during the web revolution of the 1990s. As such, millennials were the first generation to have digital technology and the Internet embedded into their upbringing.

And with technology becoming more affordable and compact into the 2010s, smartphones have become a necessity in everyday life for millennials. For a generation that grew up immersed in the Internet, apps are virtually new tech products to easily adopt and navigate.

But while millennials grew up with the Internet, it’s the next generation that is coming of age alongside an unprecedented amount of technology. Generation Z (Also known as the iGeneration) is fast becoming the most mobile-consuming, app-savvy generation. Born in the late 1990s to now, they are strongly influenced by technology in terms of education and communication.

Furthermore, Gen Z’s interests in tech and how they use mobile apps is different from their predecessors. While millennials often prioritised mobility, authenticity and transparency in their apps, Gen Z is already showing a desire for security, privacy and immediacy.

As Gen Z’s influence on mobile technology inevitably grows, businesses and entrepreneurs wanting to develop an app should look to get ahead of the curve to engage these consumers.

To help you make an app for the linked-up and logged-on iGeneration, here are strategies to appeal to their interests and capture their attention. And with their spending projected to reach $200 billion by 2018, this is the generation who will decide the future of the app economy.

 

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Gen Z consumers spend 15.4 hours a week on their smartphones. Source: Vision Critical

1. Keep the app’s design and usability simple

The design, usability and experience an app provides should resonate with the audience that it’s been developed for. When it comes to Gen Zers, there are few things less frustrating than an over-designed, complicated app.

As a key ingredient to a successful app, the navigational flow from screen-to-screen and between features should be as simple as possible for them. The last thing they want to do is waste time figuring out how to navigate an app.

ROKO Labs found that poor design is the third most common reason for Gen Zers to uninstall an app.

According to ROKO Labs CEO Dima Rakovitsky, “nearly three-quarters of iOS apps are distributed from the App Store with anywhere from one to ten bugs, while 20% of these apps are reported to have as many as 50 bugs.”

Tech-savvy kids uninstall apps if they don’t work how they’re supposed to. If you want to attract and engage Gen Z, make sure your app is simple to navigate and bug-free.

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Gen Z’s most used and least used types of apps. Source: Adweek

 

2. Deliver content in a quick and convenient manner

As mobile devices have become more compact across generations, so too has the time span to grab their attention. Gen Z’s average attention span is around eight seconds, which is shorter than  millennials.

Simply put, Generation Z want everything provided to them ASAP.

Download errors, slow loading and transitional crashes within an app are hugely detrimental to winning over millennials, and you have even less time to capture the attention of younger consumers.

The fluidity and immediacy that Gen Z crave has been highly influential in the popularity of apps like YouTube and Snapchat, as both apps offer platforms for users with short attention spans to quickly engage with content.

Make sure your app functions smoothly and that the content is was to understand. Doing this will put your app on the right path to attracting and retaining young consumers.

 

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How Gen Z uses Social Media apps. Source: SocialTimes

 

3. Give the user control of their app experience

Gen Z is a lot more concerned about how their personal brand is impacted by their online personas. This is why they enjoy the fleeting nature of Snapchat and the secrecy of Kik. However, they also enjoy the control in curating everything, from photo collections with VSCO to music playlists on Spotify.

Gen Zers also are concerned about security across online platforms. According to a study from the Centre of Generational Kinetics, “Gen Z is more concerned than millennials about their security and privacy when paying online with debit and credit cards (63% compared to 58%).”

This higher concern over Internet security may be due to the high-profile hacks that have occurred over their lifetime. And yet, in the same study from the Centre of Generational Kinetics, also found that Gen Z have “fewer worries when entering similar details on mobile payment apps like Venmo.”

So why do Gen Z feel more comfortable putting their credit card details into an app than a website?

It’s because the mobile app provides the user with a sense a control that can’t be replicated by a website. Let’s consider Venmo: The ‘free digital wallet’ app provides an component of control regarding what is private or public in the app (Similar to Snapchat), as well as the power incorporate emojis into a financial transaction.

The bottom line is, Gen Z is cautious with their private information. As a result, providing an app experience where they feel empowered will directly impact their decision to download the app, engage with the features and, in turn, become a loyal consumer of the functionality provided.

 

So for anyone looking to make an app…

You need to understand the opportunities and challenges that come with targeting this mobile-loving consumer.

Your app has to be easy to navigate and bug-free. It has to provide content in a fast and straightforward manner. And finally, it needs to give users the power to curate their app experience.

Have an idea for an app with Generation Z appeal?

Contact us to see out how we can help you launch your innovative app project.

 

The 6 Best Productivity Apps for Entrepreneurs

The old saying “slow and steady wins the race” is exactly that – old! The new version of the saying should be “fast and ready wins the race”.

In business, time is money. You can’t create more time in a day but by increasing your productivity on tasks, you can save a lot of time and money. Therefore, increasing your productivity makes money!

To help you do just that, here’s our list of the best money saving, productivity apps available.

Related: The Top 6 Traits of a Game-Changing Entrepreneur

Evernote

First up is Evernote. This is one of the most popular productivity and business apps.

Evernote is a note taking and organisation application that saves information via cloud. It is widely assessable and currently available on most platforms including iOS, Android, Mac and Windows.

Evernote’s beauty lies not on the surface, but really emerges when the application is used to its full potential. A lot of apps allow you to take and organise notes, copy information from websites, make to-do lists, read online content or send emails, but Evernote allows you to do all this and more!

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Evernote’s iPhone App. Source: iTunes

With its inbuilt search features and tags, Evernote makes it effortless to sort through 1000s of notes and acquire information or jog your memory on experiences or information you wrote years ago.

Evernote has a seemingly endless amount of features, so its purpose is really only limited by the user and their needs.

 

Free WiFi Finder

With business these days becoming more and more mobile there is a clear desire to be connected with your employees and customers round the clock. Working out at lunch or pitching a new proposal to clients or investors at a restaurant will almost certainly bring up the need to be connected to the internet.

As satellite internets can be a costly and annoying expense, the idea that an application can find all the free WiFi locations around me is pretty exciting. Most will probably require you to purchase a small product, coffee or cake etc but that is a small price to pay for the luxury of mobility at the tip of your fingers.

Free WiFi Finder is available in over 50 countries which makes travelling abroad no problem and with the information accessible offline, you won’t need to be connected to the net which is definitely a smart feature.

 

Dropbox

Dropbox is the king of cloud storage applications. Dropbox’s elegance lies in its simplicity – dragging folders from your desktop into your dropbox file allows you to transfer your files easily across many devices, and also to your family or friends with its easy-to-use sharing functions.

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Dropbox helps backups your important files with storage via a  cloud. Storage space ranges from 2GB on a free basic account to 1TB with a pro account. Furthermore, it has an option to increase the security of your files. Whether you’re using it for work or saving personal files, Dropbox will make sure they are secure. With its stunning User Interface and functionality, it’s hard to overlook Dropbox as one of the best cloud storage applications out there!

 

Pocket

Have you ever stumbled across a great article that you just don’t have the time to read? I for one have fallen victim to this many times.

If you’re like me and don’t have a lot of time throughout the day, to sit there and read these articles and find yourself staying up at night trying to remember where you saw the articles, then Pocket is the mobile app for you!

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Pocket’s Android App. Source: Google Play

Pocket, originally called Read It Later, started off as an application to save articles. Overtime  it has grown to accommodate to videos and images. The app lets you bookmark and has extensions along with compatibility to a lot of other apps. It also has built-in saving functions you’d find in other apps such as Flipboard and Pulse.

Pocket also improves the reading experience by displaying content without the usual chaos of ads, sidebars, buttons and more. Pocket’s new User Experience design, along with its clear, uncluttered reading spaces, makes it my choice for read-it-later apps.

 

Streaks

This app essentially is a motivating tool to help create good habits. I love how Streaks rewards you for continuously completing the same task, which helps forms good habits. It has an beautiful UI and is incredibly simple to use.

Streaks limits you to tracking six tasks at any one time. This ranges from tasks like remembering to brush your teeth to tasks that you can create and personalise. Knowing that not all tasks need to be done everyday, you can roster ‘days off’. Here, you don’t have to complete the task and it won’t break your streak.

Uber

The last few years we have seen the emergence of one particularly disruptive app that has completely revitalised the transportation industry. Welcome to the era of Uber.

Uber has seen enormous growth since its start off in 2009 with an estimated value of $85 Billion in 2016. Why so much growth you might ask? The necessity of being mobile these days is imperative and with a lower-cost alternative service that Uber provides, why go anywhere else?

As previously noted, Uber’s worldwide growth has allowed ride costs and waiting times to steadily decline. Furthermore, the rating system ensures that driver quality is relatively consistent, leading to an improved service quality in comparison to traditional forms of transportation. Ultimately, Uber is an essential app for the on-the-go entrepreneur.

Using these apps, will help you be more organised with daily tasks. As result, you’ll get the competitive advantage you’re striving for. Whether you use all of these great tools or even a completely different set of apps to improve productivity, we’d love to hear about them!

Leave us a comment below on any productivity apps that we may have missed.

4 Steps to Skyrocket Your Mobile App Strategy

All great mobile apps start with a clear strategy that guides them towards success. If you have a game-changing idea for an app, this article will show you step by step how to define your mobile app strategy to ensure that your app is designed, developed and launched with maximum effectiveness.

So you have an innovative app idea that you believe will attract users and generate revenue. To do that, you need to create a mobile app strategy that puts your app concept on the right path towards startup success.

A clear mobile app strategy is a key ingredient to successful app startups that attract loyal user bases and generate ongoing revenue.

With many considerations to take into account, this may seem like a daunting task. But worry not, because this step-by-step guide will show you how to create the most effective mobile app strategy to give your innovative idea the execution it deserves.

 

Step 1 – Understand your key business objectives and the market you’re entering

Your key business objectives will drive the overall strategy for your mobile app. In order to gather the essential information required for the best possible mobile app strategy, you need to understand and note where your startup is, the app store marketplace it will operate in and the user personas of your target audience.

The significance of this initial stage in the overall mobile app strategy cannot be underestimated. The business goals you want to achieve with your app are the foundational base to startup success.

To best understand the objectives you want to reach with your overall strategy, these are the main areas you need to focus on (starting from the highest priority):

 

  • Key Performance Indicators & Targets

Don’t think just mobile app – think big about your mobile app startup company! What exactly does your startup want to achieve in the next five years?

You should understand your company’s yearly Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), how it will generate revenue when launched and through what channels. What’s your revenue target for the first year? For example, your revenue target may be a 50% Return on Investment generated via a freemium monetisation model.

This ensures that the mobile app strategy you create is aligned with your startup company’s KPIs and targets as a complementary tool. In short, you want to define what ‘success’ means for your mobile app through measurable desired results.

 

  • Target Audience – Mobile as a touch point

Mobile is not a channel. It is a touch point where users can quickly interact with apps in a convenient and seamless manner. This is how your potential users think when interacting with their smartphones and, therefore, how your startup should think.

The best way to provide a valuable touch point to your app’s target audience is by understanding how users will actually interact with your app. Once you know that, you can capture the sweet spot where your mobile app will provide the maximum amount of value for both existing and potential users.

So when you’re creating your overall strategy you must understand how the touch points on your mobile app can satisfy user needs. Mobile is an enabler for your app to help users get the value they want as efficiently, smoothly and quickly as possible.

 

  • Competitor Analysis & SWOT Analysis

Analysing what your competitors do will more than likely reveal a shared set of best practices that will make it to your features list. However, you will also inadvertently discover things that competing apps do poorly or don’t do at all. Note these as a competitive advantage to gain a superior market position.

This competitor analysis activity was essential to the success of the world’s biggest disruptive app startups – they studied their market, identified something that competitors were missing but consumers really needed, and then built their successful app startup from there.

The last step before you start defining your mobile app strategy is the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. The SWOT analytical framework helps you discover and overcome the biggest problems your app startup would face, while also raising awareness to external threats and opportunities that can influence your potential market position.

The main benefit of a SWOT analysis is that it makes you self-aware of all the internal and external factors that could impact not only on your whole mobile strategy, but ultimately the success of your app startup.

 

Step 2 – Define your Mobile App Strategy

After you have clarified your business objectives and the market you’re entering, you are now in an ideal position to think about your overall Mobile App Strategy. A high-level strategy will include user stories for your mobile app, the resources needed for product execution and the technology stack required for a successful app startup launch.

 

  • Start building the Mobile App Roadmap

What is your vision for what the mobile app should be in order to be a success? Your entire mobile app strategy will hinge on getting this right. Consider this is a two-fold question:

  1. What’s the idea?
  2. How will the mobile user benefit from the idea?

Once you have your overall app idea clearly identified, you need to plan all the components that need to be implemented in order to execute your mobile app strategy. At Launchpad App Development, we refer to this as the roadmap.

A roadmap provides a visual representation of all the work our strategists, designers and developers will do to create an app that delivers real value.

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Sample Mobile Application Project Roadmap. Source: ProductPlan

A roadmap provides a visual timeline for our team and our clients to communicate project milestones that align the business objectives with an app concept’s set product deliverables.

Considering how a roadmap simply represents X amount of time for any given deliverable, it may periodically change if there is a shift in priorities or because a project task has taken longer than initially anticipated. However, for a professional app development agency, you should expect 80% of the roadmap to more or less remain the same throughout the app development process.

 

  • Determine the Technical Feasibility

When we run Rocketfuel Workshops with our clients to help them build best-in-class apps, it’s at this stage where we do a technical review of the app’s functionality to plan the optimum technical implementation method. We do this to ensure that the underlying technology of the mobile application is aligned with the client’s defined business goals.

We refer to the technical aspects that need to be established as ‘non-functional requirements’. You may not consider these requirements when you’re using mobile apps, but they are critical to an app’s success in the market.

The bottom line is that you need to have the foresight to make informed business decisions with technical certainty. Establishing this internal alignment will ensure that your app will not only look and feel great to use, but also perform seamlessly when launched.

 

  • Choose Agile Development as a core component of your Strategy

The main reason to apply agile development methods is because app requirements and business needs ultimately evolve over time based on user feedback, industry shifts and other insights.

Because these needs and requirements change constantly, the best way to develop your mobile app is with an iterative approach: adaptive planning, innovative development, rapid delivery, and constant improvement to produce what your app’s target audience wants.

At Launchpad, we apply a powerful agile framework so that our developers can use their extensive coding experience to deliver iterations as often as possible, while being adaptive and flexible to change.

Again and again, the agile development framework has proven to be significantly more productive and efficient than any other development methodology. Providing a target audience with easy solutions to their problems and adapting to their regularly changing needs should be a key element to your mobile app strategy and entrepreneurial mindset.

 

Step 3 – Determine your App’s Product Strategy

  • Create your Product Strategy by defining clear user stories

You know what the end goal is and who your users are. So what would it take to deliver on your app idea? Now that you’ve documented everything you can think of to make the final mobile app, you need to outline the specific user stories you want your app to excel at.

The number one secret I can provide here is to focus on one or two main user stories. Rather than overwhelm the user, focus on doing a couple of user stories really well.

This is the secret behind most successful apps. For instance, I use Uber when I want a quick ride, Instagram to share photos and Shazam to identify a song. That’s what makes these apps great – when I want or need something, I go to them.

If you nail down primary and secondary uses of your app in a way that the customer’s mindset is to always open your app to accomplish a task, you’re setting yourself up for success.

 

  • Define your target audience – who will use your app and why?

Knowing the types of users that you should build your app for will help you more accurately determine the most valuable functions and features required. This is where user persona modelling comes into play. Personas are an effective tool to create the right product for the app’s intended target market. This helps you understand the motivation of your app’s target users and, in turn, define the product features that satisfy the market.

This exercise is essential to defining requirements and creating user experiences that cater to as many user types as possible and, in turn, increasing the user adoption and long-term viability of your app. It also leads you towards the right mindset of building the app for your most common denominator. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to design your app for 80% of all its potential user types.

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An example User Persona, including the intended user’s bio, goals, motivations and personality. Source: Xtensio

 

  • Define your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

All app entrepreneurs should clearly outline not only the strategy for measuring the effectiveness of their app, but also set specific periodic targets to make sure what is achieved matches their original targets.

The metrics you should track to clearly measure the effectiveness of your mobile app strategy are as follows:

  • Startup/Business Metrics – Revenue, Market Share, and Increase Customer Satisfaction (NPS Score).
  • App Metrics – New Users, Active News, App Rating and Retention Rate.

Tracking insightful data has never been easier with so many tools now readily available. The secret is knowing what to track and doing it well from the beginning.

 

Step 4 – Assemble your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Finally, you’ll need to know how to implement your strategy. You need to define the MVP and processes that the developers need to deliver the project on budget and on time.

 

  • Define your Minimum Viable Product 

Depending on the complexity of your app concept, you may have identified more than 100 potential features that can be included. The next step is to take all of these features and rank them very simply as ‘must’, ‘should’ or ‘nice’ to have features.

With the features you have ranked as ‘must haves’ for the initial launch, you are now left with your MVP. This is the leanest version of your app with only the most valuable features that address the problem the product solves and demonstrates the core value of your app offering.

As previously mentioned in our ‘3 Steps To Validating Your App Idea’ post, the MVP is not the same as the best app offering. Your app is not yet at the ‘sweet spot’ where the maximum number of users are satisfied by the minimum number of features.

Mobile App Development

The minimum viable product has fewer features than an app at the sweet spot.

The MVP is a much earlier iteration than this ‘sweet spot’. It’s the leanest app you can launch to attract users while providing additional time to start developing non-MVP features.

These non-MVP features can be based on your prioritised list of ‘should have’ and ‘nice to have’ features for future updates, as well as insightful data you have gathered from users that have interacted with your MVP app.

 

Key Takeaways

There’s a lot to be said about developing a successful app. It gives our team a great sense of empowerment and creates real value for clients and their app users.

A strategy for developing a mobile app is simple: think big, act small, launch, test and improve. However,  an effective mobile app strategy requires thought, flexibility and an alignment across your business objectives and app goals.

By following this guide, you will be well positioned to successfully build, launch and manage your app.

Are there any resources you would recommend for an effective mobile app strategy? Let us know in the comments section below.

5 Reasons App Development Should Be Your #1 Business Strategy

Are you caught up in the thought that only corporations with an abundance of financial backing need to create an app? Think again. In this post, we outline five reasons why all businesses, big and small, should make Mobile App Development a top priority in 2016.

A 2008 study by Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey found that 69% of users only used their mobiles for voice calling and SMS. In 2014, the same survey found that 7% of users only made use of their mobile for voice calling and SMS. Why is there a huge change in just six years?

Thanks to the rise of the smartphone we can now be connected to the Internet at all times. The way we make use of this connection on our phones is through mobile apps.

81% of Australians now own a smartphone with mobile apps playing a key role in how we go about our daily lives. Mobile apps can help us do chores and order food all with a few clicks on my phone.

But it’s not just smartphone users who can benefit from apps. Businesses can too.

Many businesses still prioritise the desktop/laptop experience for customers over mobile. However, mobile Internet access has overtaken desktop in 2014. with 21% of users now only accessing the net via their mobile devices.

That’s where the benefit lies for businesses. Having a mobile app that is beneficial for customers and a potential revenue generator must become a top priority for any business to consider, from local start-ups to multinational corporations.

Here are five reasons why your business must have a Mobile App Development strategy.

 

1. Internet use is occurring more on Mobile than Desktop – You need a mobile strategy to not miss out on this audience.

Desktop is dead! Long live mobile! While it might not be quite that bleak, it’s not far away from being reality. Mobile is now king when it comes to how users make use of the Internet.

Your customers are waking up to social media notifications on their mobile, looking at their emails over breakfast and making use weather apps to check if they need an umbrella – all just a few moments before leaving for work. You’re probably even reading this blog on your mobile right now.

Take a moment to look around at your fellow commuters the next time you walk onto a train. I’m betting you’ll see that their eyes are glued to their phones. Soon your eyes will be entrenched on your phone too. The point is, people spend a tonne of time on their mobile phones and they are now truly intrinsic to our everyday lives.

But what does that mean for your business?

Firstly, there is a large audience out there, whose daily Internet use is done largely through mobile apps, which your business is missing out on. And let’s not forget that 21% of users who exclusively access the Internet via their mobile.

Secondly, having a web presence is simply no longer good enough for small to medium size businesses. Many businesses are still creating and relying on websites, without the knowledge that developing a mobile app would be far more efficient and effective at targeting a mobile app-driven market.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it means that there is now an opportunity. Opportunity for your business to develop a mobile strategy that will help market your product to a large audience that is yet to be reached by your competitors and will only become more mobile-focused for years to come.

Long live mobile apps!

 

2. Mobile notifications allow you to connect with customers 24/7, 365 days a year.

Does your business struggle to bring in new customers or reconnect with old ones? This is a problem for businesses worldwide as traditional forms of advertising are becoming less effective.

But with strategic mobile notifications, connecting with customers is easier and more effective than ever before.

Before mobile, traditional forms of customer engagement included flyers, catalogues and emails. They are still used today, but the fact is that mobile notifications are the most efficient method of connecting with customers. Mobile notifications are also more effective at capturing and engaging users too.

Customers can so easily put down a catalogue or just delete an email. Not to mention the fact that you constantly have to produce new and engaging content for these forms of advertising.

How about that email marketing campaign you’re running? According to Smart Insights, it’s only getting a click thru rate of 3% to your website from recipients. In comparison, check out the infographic below to see how effective mobile notifications are.

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Your eyes are not deceiving you – mobile app notifications really do get an incredible 6% Click Thru Rate across all industries. Source: Accengage

Mobile app notifications have a click thru rate of 6%. That’s twice as effective as that email marketing campaign you’re spending so much time and money on.

With mobile notifications, there are constant alerts and interaction between your business and its customers in real time – 24/7, 365 days a year.

You can nudge your customers to do something, remind them of an upcoming service or even provide offers exclusive to mobile users. The options are endless when it comes to using mobile notifications.

Mobile notifications are here, they’re effective and are ready to be used on your potential app. So what are you waiting for?

 

3. Apps have customer’s full attention and improve customer engagement.

15.3 million Australians own a smartphone, but just how engaged are we with them? I called out my fellow commuters for being engrossed in their phones but I have the evidence to back it up.

Below is a table displaying how much time a month users are spending on their mobiles and how they use them. You might be surprised by the amount.

App Development Australia

Source: Nielsen

That’s 36 hours a month spent on smartphones, with users spending 33 hours of that time on mobile apps.

Further analysis by Deloitte found that Australians look at their smartphone more than 30 times a day on average, with all our daily views combined making a total of 440 million views a day.

What if Australians were spending some of those 33 hours or 440 million views on your business’s mobile app? With the right app, this possibility can easily become a reality.

While it’s clear that mobile apps have our attention, it’s important to understand why certain apps have our attention and how they improve customer engagement.

The great thing about an app is that your customer is locked into your app while using it. They can’t just open up another tab or look up something else, like they can on a desktop or laptop.

Once customers are using an app, the best ones keep them engaged enough to understand the value of the app, without the desire to search for an alternative.

You can keep users engaged with your app in a number of ways.

Apps that provide value to customers are always the biggest engagement winners. Whether it’s having a mobile store that provides a streamlined shopping experience or a loyalty system that incentivises ongoing purchases, provide value to app users will keep them returning for that same value again and again.

Remember that dinner reservation I mentioned before? It was done in a few easy clicks and without that loud, tedious phone call to the busy restaurant. Now that’s value right there.

Mobile notifications keep your customers engaged and help to reconnect with users. They are attention grabbing and remind customers of your products/services in a more personalised and strategic manner.

My personal favourite are in-app rewards. The offer of a small reward, eg. 10% off for ordering through an app, is another highly effective method to keep customers engaged.

At the end of it all, creating more interesting and sophisticated apps that provide the customer with real value will command the attention of users, keep them using your app and generate revenue for your business.

 

4. Mobile apps can be personalised for each user, creating a better user experience.

No two people are the same. So why give everybody the same experience? With apps, you can personalise the customer experience, generate a loyal user base and, ultimately, provide a better performing app.

Again, we bring it back to making the customers life better or easier. If the app is more tailored to the user, then it’s easier for them to perceive the benefits it provides.

A major hurdle in personalisation is the log in process. Customers have to log into a website every time they come back to use it. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got better things to do than continuously log back into websites.

With a mobile app, your customers only need to log in once to access their account and make use of the app. The best form of log in is through a social network (E.g. Facebook) as this provides your app with rich user data to aid the personalisation process.

A personalised app can use data to understand details about your customer. You can find out likes/dislikes, where they are using your app and time spent in the app.  Additionally, you can gain personal information, such as birthdays and gender. Your app continuously responds to this information and creates a constant personalised experience for the user.

There are no limits for how personalised an app can be to each user.

You can even use personalisation as a marketing engagement tool. Mobile notifications can be personalised to each user to increase click thru rate and create cost-effective mobile marketing campaigns.

When investing in a mobile app for your business, make sure your app provides a personalised user experience.

 

5. Stand out from the competition.

Mobile app development gives your business the opportunity to stand out in your industry and gain the competitive edge.

More small business owners are recognising the response digital media advertising garners from consumers and are keen on making use of that strong response. Instagram advertising is being embraced by small businesses, but soon too will mobile app development.

Mobile apps at small business level are still rare, but by being the first to adopt a mobile app strategy, your business can stand out from the competition and validate your brand to its customers.

A great app also helps businesses differentiate themselves from competitors. If your business offers a great service and an enticing app that provides real value, then customers will flock to your business in droves.

Ultimately, having your own app means that your business will be a step ahead of its competitors and be perceived as a forward-thinking business in your industry. That’s the power great mobile apps have.

Look at Netflix. The DVD-by-mail business was failing badly in 2011 and looked in dire straits. However, the company embraced mobile apps, which led them to be an iconic company. They have also dominated the DVD and online video industry, which made Blockbuster go bankrupt.

Mobile App Developers

Netflix subscription rates have increased significantly since the introduction of its mobile apps. Source: Daily Tech

I’m not saying that you need an app to bankrupt your competitors, but I’m sure that you would like a way for your business to one-up the competition.

This is all possible with your own app. Embrace the idea and be ready to stand out.

 

Key Takeaways

Mobile apps are the future of how we use the Internet and connect with customers in the online world.

There should always be a place for desktop in business strategy, but with mobile apps taking on greater relevance in our lives, your business must have a mobile app strategy to remain relevant in today’s ever connected digital world.

Being an early adopter of a mobile app strategy helps your business stand out competition and open up opportunities.

Remember – there’s nothing holding back your competitors from developing an app of their own. Nothing should be holding you back either.

Do you have any other reasons why businesses should adopt a mobile app strategy? Feel free to leave us a comment below.

The 4 Characteristics of Successful App Startups

What are the shared traits of apps like Uber and Airbnb that help them become impactful multinational companies? The answer can vary depending on industry and business model. In this post we share the four most common characteristics of successful app startups.

Not since the dot-com days of the late 90s has there been such a prevalence of tech startups. The rise of mobile technology and innovations such as cloud computing has spurred this latest round of tech entrepreneurship.

As the mobile revolution becomes mainstream, new business opportunities are being presented. At Launchpad App Development, we help entrepreneurs and emerging businesses realise these opportunities through iPhone, Android and Web App Development.

Here are the important qualities to achieving app startup success in the evolving mobile marketplace.

They are disruptive

One of the defining characteristics of successful app startups is Disruption. A disruptive app challenges the status of an industry – transportation, retail, lifestyle, etc. – to such an extent that the traditional way of doing business becomes practically obsolete.

That’s easier said than done, and a lot more difficult than creating an app that follows consumer demand and market trends. So why are so many app startups aiming to innovate rather than regulate?

As the late Steve Jobs succinctly put it: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

So is a disruptive app created?

Clayton Christensen – who introduced the disruptive innovation theory in the Harvard Business Review – notes that disruptive innovation often starts from the low-end market foothold.

Consider an industry where companies try to provide their most profitable and demanding customers with ever-improving products and services. In such an industry, these companies are paying less attention to less-demanding customers. This opens the door to disruptive apps to provide these low-end customers with a Minimum Viable Product.

Example – Uber

The taxi industry is tightly regulated and the drivers face strict obligations. In most cities, drivers need a special operator’s license in order to act as a taxi. Furthermore, there are restrictions to what cars they can legally drive.

In comparison to traditional taxis, Uber started in the low-end market by allowing anyone with a car to drive other people around for money. No special certification or knowledge was required.

As Uber’s network grew in each city, ride costs and waiting times declined and the rating system ensured that the driver quality was relatively consistent. With this improved service quality, Uber was able to move upstream to attack taxis directly – a classic disruptive move.

Uber Most Valuable Startup

Now worth $85 billion AUD, Uber is the World’s most valuable startup. Source: Statista

They have a well-defined Value Proposition

A value proposition is a statement that explains what benefits your app provides and how it does it uniquely well. It describes your target users, the problem your app solves, and why it’s distinctly better than the alternatives.

A significant part of defining a value proposition involves what Forbes writer Michael Skok calls the 4Us:

  • Unworkable: Does your app solve a broken business process where there are real, measurable consequences to inaction?
  • Unavoidable:  Is it driven by a fundamental requirement for accountability or compliance?
  • Urgent: Is it one of the top few priorities in the marketplace that your startup is entering?
  • Underserved: Is there a noticeable lack of valid solutions to the problem you’re looking to solve?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you’re on the right path toward a compelling value proposition.

Example – Evernote

Evernote’s value proposition is to “help the world remember everything, communicate effectively and get things done”. From saving ideas and thoughts to preserving experiences to working efficiently with others, Evernote’s distinct app offering makes it easy for users to stay productive and organised.

With a well-defined value proposition, you know that your target market is primed for the solution that your app provides.

They start with a small market

When it comes to successful app startups, there’s been a lot of talk about the huge market that’s readily available through the ever-evolving mobile platform.

While it’s true that a startup must eventually reach a large market to transform into a large company, it’s actually best to identify a narrow market segment to begin with.

As we covered in a previous post, starting with a small market helps you to understand the behavioural traits of app users in an insightful manner, while also underlining any issues that need to be rectified more quickly.

“Begin with a really small market, take over said market, and then expand that market in concentric circles.”

Peter Thiel, PayPal Co-Founder and early Facebook Investor.

 

Thiel advises in his lecture , “the greatest mistake you can make as a new startup is going after a giant market from the get-go. That signifies that you haven’t defined categories properly. And you’re going to be dealing with too much competition in one way or another.”

If you want to turn your app startup into a successful company, you should first capture targeted small markets and then help that market grow over time.

They provide an outstanding User Experience

By definition, a startup is a new company. They can’t be dependent on brand loyalty built over years or decades like their big, entrenched competitors can.

This is why providing a useful app product that’s simple and intuitive to use is so important to the business’s long-term success.

So how do you deliver a great user experience for the app that you’re building? Here are some guidelines to get you started.

  • Easy flow and navigation – Once you’ve decided on the first set of features you want to be part of the app, it’s essential that you make it easy for the user to navigate from screen to screen, or from one feature to another. Your aim should be to reduce the learning curve for the users and make navigation more intuitive.
  • Understand your customer What is the profile of your typical customer (E.g. Age group, gender, their behaviour with technology, etc.)? The navigational features (such as button size, easy tap instead of swipes) will differ from a 5 year old compared a 55-year-old mobile user.
  • Utilise the platform – Each platform, iOS or Android, offers various gesture-based navigation tools. Swipes (left, right, up or down) can bring a new screen and remove another, while a pinch can zoom into content or move out of the current screen as well. Depending on the nature of your application and its purpose, platform-specified gestures should be offered to provide an intuitive navigation experience.

App User Experience

The iPhone’s gesture-based navigation tools. Source: Business 2 Community

The User Experience your app offers should be an integral part of your product strategy. Remember, success is by design, not by chance.

Remember, success is by design, not by chance.

Concluding Thoughts

Whether your app idea will grow into a successful startup depends on a variety of factors. They have common characteristics that can be identified.

Successful app startups are disruptive, have a well-defined value proposition, start with a small market and provide an amazing user experience. Making sure that your app concept has these four traits will set you on the right path to achieving startup success.

What additional characteristics do you believe lead to app startup success? Let us know in the comments section below.

4 Mobile App Trends for 2016

Mobile app development is at the top of the agenda for many entrepreneurs and businesses in 2016. We share our top 4 predictions for the year ahead on the changes in the mobile industry and app market.

2015 was a huge year for apps. Mobile overtook desktop as users spent more time on their mobile devices. The app development market experienced tremendous growth, profitability and expansion. Mobile devices became the new normal for delivering content, entertainment, transportation and much more.

App developers must evolve its strategy to be relevant across new channels and screens moving forward. We expect an exciting year ahead. Here are the top four app trends for 2016.

 

User-Centric Apps

Whenever we do a Rocketfuel Workshop with our clients, there is one key process that ensures we define a minimum viable product and lockdown their app concept’s product position: User Persona Modeling. Personas are an effective tool to create the right product for the app’s intended target market. This allows our clients to understand the motivation of their app’s target users and, in turn, define the product features that satisfy the market.

App User Persona

An example User Persona Model, including the intended user’s bio, motivations, personality and goals. Source: Xtensio

We apply this user-centric approach to app development because, now more than ever, entrepreneurs and businesses need to consider the complete user experience their app provides. With mobile apps now accounting for more than half (52%) of all the time spent on digital media, a user-centric approach to app development is crucial to creating a meaningful app experience.

However, you can’t just assume to know what your target users want in an app. You need to track and analyse relevant Big Data for it to become Meaningful Data that provides insight into your app’s potential consumers. This is essential to creating a user experience that caters to how your consumers are actually using the app.

At Launchpad App Development, our mission is to help entrepreneurs and business transform innovative ideas into successful apps. If you want to create a successful app in 2016, your target users should be defining the app product.

 

In-App Ads

Three of the largest players in the mobile space (Google, Apple and Facebook) have all been investing an enormous amount of time and resources into powering ‘virtual assistant’ type technology. Google created Google Now, Apple has Siri and Facebook is testing M. The goal of all of these companies is to become the best personal assistant you’ve ever had and in large part to provide personalised ads proactively before a user even makes a request. This represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about in-app advertising.

As businesses improve their ability to create data-driven experiences for their app users, the targeting of ads will greatly improve and consequently become much more effective. Once users have opted-in to a data program they will often provide a great deal of information regarding their preferences, as well as geographic and demographic information that can be quite useful.

By developing a data program, apps will be able to leverage the behaviour of users within the app to refine their experience with ads that are more relevant. Personalised in-app ads draw double the click-through rate of normal display ads and, in many cases, bypass ad blockers to reach the right audience in the right context.

With nearly three times more spent on in-app advertising compared to mobile web, personalised in-app advertising will continue to flourish in 2016 and beyond. By 2018, Juniper Research predicts it’ll reach $17 billion, making in-app the fastest growing sector in mobile advertising.

 

Mobile Video

Mobile video is growing quickly. IAB found that 58% of people watch videos daily from their mobile device. Clearly, quality video production intended for the small screen can be truly effective in reaching this growing audience. This makes businesses eager to capitalise on this trend.

 

As eyeballs shift away from the TV screen to the smartphone, advertising dollars are quickly following. As a result, redirect viewers to an app plays a key role in the growth of the mobile video format.

Mobile Video App

The explosion in engagement for YouTube’s smartphone and tablet app highlights the rapid shift to mobile video. Source: comScore

When it comes to mobile video, apps are clearly the consumers’ choice for viewing them. 48% of the respondents to IAB’s study confirmed they access video content via applications rather than visiting a mobile website. While only 18% indicated they would rather view video via mobile website. The mobile video market is expected to reach over $13 billion by 2020 and grew rapidly in 2015. It’s safe to say that we can expect continued substantial growth in 2016.

 

Apps Becoming Part of Our Lifestyles

The problem with app adoption in the past can be nailed down to one singular issue – mobile data. With data caps and overcharge rates, apps have been limited how creative and forward thinking they can be. As a result, we  restrict ourselves to apps that provide individual features. For example, an app for music streaming, an app for weather, an app for fitness tracking etc.

Expect apps in 2016 to become an integral part of your life. For instance, a fitness journal that displays the weather before your run and provides music playlists customised. Sound a bit far-fetched? Not to us app developers!

As long as there are forced restrictions on how much you can download, apps themselves play a pivotal role in positioning themselves as a lifestyle attachment, rather than a usable ‘thing’ that can quickly be uninstalled in favour of the next big thing. There’s only so much data that will fit in a mobile plan – better make sure your app is making the most of it.

What’s more, the apps you choose could very well communicate your values in terms of your lifestyle. The apps you use every day could soon tell people “I’m proud to be a _____ and that’s why I use (app).” The more attuned these apps become to our goals, likes and dislikes in life, the more they’ll find themselves being used likely far beyond what even us as developers envisioned.

What app trends are you anticipating in the year ahead? Let us know in the comments section below.

The 4 Myths of Mobile App Development

“For an industry that’s built on science, the technology world sure has its share of myths.”

–David Pogue, Founder of Yahoo Tech.

The app market continues to evolve as developers and users explore the possibilities of mobile technology. In 2015, the number of mobile-only internet users surpassed that of desktop-only, with people now spending at least 54% of their digital media time interacting with mobile apps.

As the top digital disruptor in business today, it comes as no surprise that everyone, from first-time entrepreneurs to multinational corporations, is sensing the urgency to break into mobile in a big way.

However, there are so many misconceptions around mobile app development that a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses end up squandering time and money they simply can’t afford. In my experience at the helm for numerous app development projects, I’ve been able to observe what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating a best-in-class app product.

If you’re looking to create an app that innovates rather than regulates, here are the top 4 myths that you need to bust to do mobile right.

 

MYTH #1: Developing apps natively per platform is a waste of time and money.

REALITY: 

If you want a five-star app, build natively. Period.

The benefits of building a cross-platform app seam clear. You only have to code some once and you can push it out to everyone using any device. Sounds simple. Logical. Facebook thought so initially, as did LinkedIn. But the ease was countered by some pretty dramatic downsides. How dramatic you ask? Well, Mark Zuckerberg called Facebook’s over-reliance on HTML5 as opposed to native as “the biggest mistake we made as a company”.

In comparison to native apps, a cross-platform app is worse across every important metric: functionality, performance, UI etc. When entrepreneurs and business go the easy route of app development, they don’t realise that all they’re doing is creating a crappy experience for everyone everywhere.

But cross-platform approaches still lure startups that don’t want to invest more time and money developing separately for iOS and Android Operating Systems. Instead, they rely on HTML5, hybrid applications and cross-platform toolkits, but none of these work well enough to build the high-end mobile experiences users expect. They will eventually, but they don’t right now.

Each of these solutions come with their own set of drawbacks:

  • HTML5: Cross-browser compatibility issues are difficult to resolve, which means that you end up needing to optimise for each platform anyway.
  • Hybrid Apps: There’s a leaky abstraction layer (E.g. “Is that a URL bar refreshing in the app?… Seriously??”) and the communication layer between the app and web view is complex and littered with errors.
  • Cross-Platform Toolkits: Require large amounts of custom code per platform, making it easier and faster to write native code for each.

The takeaway: Instead of going broad and writing something once, spend the time and go deeper on your most popular platform first. Then expand from there. You want to pick the platform that resonates most with your users — whether it be iOS, Android or both. It all depends on what you want the app to do and the audience it’s designed to reach.

Figuring out your optimal platform means you need to dig into the demographics of your user base. In a previous post about validating your app idea, I discussed how researching the size and shape of your market is a critical step in influencing the direction of your app concept. You need to see firsthand that different users’ habits are largely driven by the platforms they use. Android users look for functionality in different places than iOS users, and so on. From both a speed and quality perspective this is the only way to go.

 

MYTH #2: My backend server is ready to support mobile apps.

REALITY:

You will need to change, upgrade, or completely rebuild your backend to create the best mobile experience.

Most companies still aren’t used to building the type of backend server that creates top mobile apps. Without the right API design and implementation, an app will perform poorly in the real world. Some companies see increases in mobile traffic that are 200% higher — or more — than their website. Take banks as an example: Whereas customers can now check their account 10 times a day on their smartphone. Your server needs to be able to handle that kind of workload.

To avoid crash issues due to increased mobile traffic, here’s a checklist to consider when integrating a mobile app with your web server:

  • Maximum Payload Size: In mobile, the best experiences are the ones where the minimum amount of data is sent. A good API for mobile should allow the client to specify the maximum payload size returned from the server (4 KB is usually enough).
  • Retry rather than Redo: Given the flakiness of network connectivity, users should be allowed to send the same API call to the server multiple times for certainty. Retrying the same API call should not mean two calls on the same server end (E.g. Posting the same Facebook status message twice).
  • Low Latency: Bandwidth isn’t the only networking issue when dealing with mobile devices. The lower the latency on each API call, the snappier your app will feel.
  • Single API Call per Screen: This requires tighter coupling between the mobile device and the server, but can make for a very compelling mobile experience. Ideally, every screen on mobile would make at most one API call to the backend. To loosen the coupling, the API could be designed to allow variable return data, with much of the heavy lifting done on the server side.

 

MYTH #3: You can develop your mobile app internally as fast as an outside company.

REALITY:

Developing your app yourself will take 3x longer.

Throughout my time helping entrepreneurs and business embrace mobile innovation, lots of folks have asked how long their app will take to make. I may assess that an app would take three months to develop for one platform. Sometimes they’d come back with the decision to develop the app internally. Keeping tabs on these app projects, it comes as no surprise to see them finally launch almost a year later in the App Store.

If you want to develop an app, you can’t make the mistake of thinking just because you have HTML, CSS and JavaScript capabilities that mobile will be plug-and-play for you. Unless you have a dedicated, built-out mobile team, this will probably not be the case. And very few entrepreneurs and startups have this luxury. When they decide to go internal, they’re essentially choosing to pay with time instead of money.

Why does it take startups so much longer to do it on their own? They don’t anticipate their most critical need: Hiring.

If you are planning to build internally, you want to be confident that you already have the people and skill sets you need to execute. This isn’t just about coding talent either. You need to have people with mobile product experience, mobile Quality Assurance (QA) testers, and mobile UI/UX Designers. You need all of these people working together to put out a great product. Otherwise your developers may head down one road only to discover they had the wrong product vision, or they hadn’t even thought of QA.

When you bring in a development company, you are provided with experts in all of these areas who can work in parallel to iterate quickly and deploy internally. Having a Mobile Product Manager keeps you focused on the three to five (maximum!) core functionalities an app should have.

Speed isn’t just important for its own sake either. The sooner you get your app into the App Store or on Google Play, the sooner you get to see people’s reactions to it. The faster you can gather that feedback, the closer you are to your next release.

There’s also the chance that you’ll realise halfway through that your company simply doesn’t have the people or resources to finish an app it’s started. Then you have to call in a company for what we like to call “a rescue.” It doesn’t sound good — because it isn’t.

This doesn’t mean that working with any outside developer will do. When choosing an app development company, you’re really choosing a partner. To make sure you end up working with the right partner, we suggest asking every company a series of probing questions:

  • How do they learn as they develop new mobile capabilities?
  • How do they capture and leverage the data from their previous projects and experiences? What have they learned from working with other clients?
  • Do they offer the ability to co-innovate (pairing their own staff with the client’s to develop, design, and test)?
  • Do they follow agile methodologies (test driven development, quick iterations, constant communication)?

For all of these questions, the ‘right’ answer is not a one-size-fits-all, but the one that best suits your business. At agile development companies, internal knowledge sharing is accomplished through a combination of human and technical means: lunch and learns, demos, company-wide standups, an internal project management site, and rotating staff across projects to expose them to a wide range of experiences. You want answers that make it clear that it’s easy and encouraged for you to participate.

 

MYTH #4: If I outsource to a mobile development company, I won’t have to do any work.

REALITY:

For the best outcomes, clients need to be heavily involved with the company they’ve contracted.

Sometimes we have clients who just say “Hey, pretend to be me and make the decisions you think I would make”. In other words, they just want to hand the whole project over. At Launchpad, what we’ve found is that to do the best work, we need as much information as we can get as fast as we can get it, and that requires client participation.

In my experience as a Product Manager across a wide variety of app development projects, the greatest apps I’ve been involved with resulted from the client working very closely with the design, coding and QA teams. Ideally, they have the opportunity to collaborate with the client to see what everyone wants and envisions.

The best case scenario is actually having our client sit with us to work toward building a solution — not just trading emails or checking in every so often over Skype. We call this co-innovation, as it allows the key stakeholders to build together.

When you work side by side with someone, trust forms so much faster. It’s so much easier to make decisions and work through issues. Simply put, the ability to be co-located with someone and to co-invent is a key factor for app development success.

Ultimately, busting all of these myths depends on finding the right partner. You want someone who gets you, gets your app, and is just as invested in your success as their own especially if you’re at a smaller startup or a company that is only beginning to invest in mobile. Given the increasing importance of these platforms, finding this exact fit could not only make or break your mobile strategy, but your entire business.

Do you have any questions about mobile app development? Feel free to ask in the comments section below.