Mobile apps are omnipresent. Apps are not only being developed for the two most dominant mobile OS’s in the world (iOS and Android) but also for OS’s with miniscule market share like Windows Mobile, Blackberry and more. There is no dearth of app success stories and these have been as old as 2009.
There is an entire ecosystem developed around apps wherein companies help develop an app, market it, and facilitate its monetization efforts.
Apps have been the main source of content consumption for mobile users for almost a decade now and amongst them, its iOS users who are more addicted to app usage. Apple’s App Store has millions of apps craving for user attention, thus making the job of developers even tougher.
It takes enormous skill to develop an iPhone app that stands out from the crowd and delivers high ROI.
This article covers some tips as to how app developers can make sure the development of iPhone apps is approached in a manner that leads to great success.
1. Learn from Top Apps
One of the easiest ways to know what users need is to look at the Top Apps chart. Are apps like yours listed in the Top charts? If yes, you are on the right track to potentially having a winner of an app; if not, you can still keep looking for inspiration to create a smash hit.
It also won’t be a bad idea to have a closer look at the competition by downloading and using their apps; you could search for functional weaknesses and come up with an app that doesn’t have these problems.
As a developer, it’s easy to fall in love with your app idea but if the market has no appetite for it, the app will fail. Emulating or being inspired from competition is a good thing as far as there is an added layer of usefulness being provided and it is not a blatant copy or just one more app offering the same features.
The developer has to ensure the app caters to users’ needs, creates a new need or provides a new perspective on tackling the same old issue.
2. Fulfilling the design parameters
Designers should keep in mind the iOS design guidelines during app development. Apple has drawn up a list of strict design guidelines to ensure that any and every iOS app fits seamlessly into its ecosystem. Apple keeps a tight control on its ecosystem (hardware, software and even apps go through a rigorous approval process). This way it guarantees that the apps available on the App store do not make the following mistakes:
• Memory hogging,
• Slowing down the phone,
• Killing the battery,
• Too much space utilization, or
• High RAM usage.
A great mobile app is less resource hungry and developed keeping in view the minimum requirements to run an app, thus not alienating a huge user base stuck on older hardware or software.
At the end of the day, if your app stays true to Apple’s design guidelines, you are actually making sure it delivers a fantastic UX. This way you are improving its chances of being seen and downloaded.
3. Loading Time
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An app cannot take a lot of time to load before its ready to use. Some apps have to do a bit of background processing every time they are loaded (e.g. Facebook for iPhone); in this case, a max of 5 seconds can be considered usual. Anything more than that would be hampering the usability of the services offered through the app.
As long as a “loading” screen is displayed indicating there is a loading process on, user’s don’t mind too much because they appreciate the fact the developer kept the user experience in mind; users understand the app requires a little time to start, in order to satisfy their need in the best way possible.
4. Un-obstructive Ads or Paid App
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Developers face the dilemma of either keeping their app ad free or making it a paid app.
Making the right choice is important because it’s not only about monetizing the app, but also making sure this monetization does affect the overall user experience of the app. You will find there are some really great apps out there delivering solid value to target users, but they aren’t all that popular.
That’s because their UX is hampered by ads; such ads are not appreciated by users. Some users may ignore them, if they are unobstructive and do not make the overall experience of using the app less user friendly; but there are others who’ll chose to move on to an app with no ads.
So, you decide. How do you want to go about monetizing your app? If you decide to take the in- app ads route, there are tools available which help you take charge of how these ads will appear in terms of location, frequency of appearance and more customization options.
As a developer, you must make sure that the display ads don’t mire the productivity and usability of the app.
There is something else you can do.
If you are absolutely sure of the app providing a unique and useful functionality, you can choose the option of making a paid app or upgrading with an in app purchase, thus showing ads to people who do not upgrade.
5. Test your App
App developers should test their app in real world environment. For this to happen, they should get as many testers as possible, right from their 12 year old cousin brother to 75 year old grandma. The more tests the app goes through in different testing environments, the better it will become.
There is a chance you might not be able to identify a particular crash scenario, but some other tester might be able to do so, and may even indirectly suggest a fix while elaborating on the exact issue which caused the crash. This direct input from tests helps the developer make a great app.
Moreover, having different users providing feedback about the app will just make the app more stable and better before it finally gets released for the general public. Testing the app before its official app store release will greatly improve its stability and make it less prone to having any bugs or issues.
6. Utility value
All mobile apps have to provide great usability to be successful in the overcrowded app marketplace. They also have to be unique and must provide value to the user by simplifying certain tasks that are a part of their daily lives, or allow users to access information on the go to help make informed decisions. They need to be addictive enough to encourage continuous engagement.
Developing an iPhone app with these considerations will set it apart and keep you focused on achieving these important benchmarks.
If you think the app does not provide any value addition or is not addictive, you might consider delaying its release or going back to the drawing board to rethink app design and functionality. A utilitarian app also has more chances of being a financial success for the developer and delightful experience for users.
Apps like SwiftKey Keyboard, Camera Apps and more are good examples of these utilitarian apps.
7. Development is a Continuous Process
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Even after the app is released on the app store, the developer can keep adding new functionalities to it over time. A lot of app updates are generally based on user feedback and their requests to expand app functionality; pushing out continuous updates is an important part of the app development process.
Users love the feeling that their feedback is taken into consideration and the developer is responsive and appreciates their feedback. This increases brand loyalty and creates goodwill for the developer. Moreover, monitoring social media for app reviews and usage patterns will give an idea of what the users experience and where the app needs improvement.
App updates are also a great way of showing support to paid users because it gives them a reassurance that the developer is not just cashing in on the initial hype but will provide support continuously.
App updates are also a great marketing tactic and sometimes can work wonders for the adoption of services if they are marketed well. Addition of a new related feature, improving on existing app features, adding social layers to the app or integration with other services are all part of app updates which can lead to increased usage.
The above-mentioned pointers will help you create better, user-centric iPhone apps and guarantee user engagement if the app provides value to users and is stable. Apple does have its own rigorous process of app approval and as such it won’t even approve apps that do not meet the minimum prescribed design and development criteria.