Apps

Keep It Simple

In 2013 the average person's attention span was 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. Hell, a gold fish has an average attention span of 9 seconds! Surely, you already understand that your app has an extremely limited amount of time to grab a user's attention, and demonstrate it's value, and convince people to download it. Don't let your app get quickly browsed over because people aren't able to quickly identify with it and understand how they will benefit. People need to know what your app is about and what pain it's going to fix or they will scroll passed it in a matter of seconds.

To illustrate the point, take a look a very brief look (literally just 1 to 2 seconds) at the homepage for a very successful app by the team Tapity called Grades. Go ahead, I'll wait. 

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Solve Real Pains

Quick question, how many times have you downloaded an app, used it for a day or two, and then never touched it again until months later when you're clearing out all of your unused apps? I'm sure it's more often than we'd like.

I'd be willing to bet that most of those apps were novel, eye catching, or had some sort of other x factor that made them sound fun, but something was missing that didn't give them any lasting appeal. I won't deny that there's something to be said about novelty, but for the majority of apps, the only real way to guarantee your app isn't deleted after a few days is to create something where your users will continually benefit from its use.

Does this mean you need some genius idea that nobody has ever thought of before? Or solve a pain that nobody has ever addressed before? Not at all. I don't even think that's realistic. I actually believe the opposite, that pretty much everything we work on is a remix of other ideas or technologies. Any change you've ever seen Kirby Ferguson's short series about this? If not, you might want to check it out (after you finish reading this article of course).

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Know Your "Why"

Let's start from the very beginning. I personally believe this is probably the most important factor for success. For whatever reason, you've decided you want to build an app. Most likely you already even have an idea in mind. For a lot of people, that would be enough to get started. I ask you to take one extra step before diving in and answer the following question.

What is the real reason you want to build this app? Write it out. Be honest about your reasoning, as this will guide many decisions, which will help you to focus and deliver a better product. Make sure you know what your end goal is.

If it's to make easy money (or worse, get rich), become famous like Zuckerberg, or tell somebody "I told you so", I would beg you to rethink whether you should create an app. You may be enticed by all of the overnight success stories, but considering there are over a 1.2 million apps in the Apple App store alone (1.3 for Android), those stories are far more scarce than you may have imagined. Not to mention over 92% of those are free. Building a successful app takes serious dedication. 

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Elements of Successful Apps

I'm starting a series of posts called "Elements of Successful Apps" based on a speech I gave this week at Startup Week. I posted the slide deck and notes in a previous post. I'll be covering one element at time to make them digestible and actionable.

There's no magic formula for creating a successful app, and I'm not going to pretend there is. I won't pretend I know everything there is to know about successful apps. These elements alone do not guarantee success, however, they will have a tremendous impact on your app's success. Not all successful apps will have all of these elements, but most do. So let's get to it.

Element 1: Know Your "Why"
Element 2: Solve Real Pains
Element 3: Keep It Simple

More in the works...

Startup Week Presentation Notes

First off, huge thanks to everybody that came to my presentation this afternoon. I couldn't have been more pleased with the response to my very first speaking engagement. It was an absolute pleasure meeting everybody afterwards and throughout the rest of the afternoon.

As I mentioned, I'm posting links to some of the things I discussed. You can also download a PDF copy of the slide deck if you're looking for a refresher.

FYI: I'll be posting the full speech as an article next week, so stay tuned if you're interested. Enjoy the rest of Phoenix Startup Week! #yesphx

Freelance Graphic Designer Simply Adam Mann's Slide Deck for Phoenix Startup Week

How Much Does An App Cost?

We are finally nearing the launch of Find My Train, in fact, we just submitted it to the Apple App Store! Since we've began showing more of the app, I've had numerous people ask how much it would cost to build them an app.

Since this is my first time working on a team developing an app, I do not have much to compare it to, so I decided to look around the web. Below is a modified post by Vlad of Darwin Apps, which I think does a great job creating an analogy to help bridge the tech to non-tech gap of expectations between product and price. (Perhaps I also enjoy this analogy because I am a huge car fan)

Getting back to the question, how much does an app cost? To put it plainly, about as much as a car, depending on what you want.

“I just want an app and I want it to work” - Used 1994 Honda Civic - $1-5K.

You just want a simple app. Nothing fancy, and you don’t really care who works on it. You can probably find a freelancer locally (hint: College students, trust the CS / engineering degrees first) or someone off odesk to do this for you. It won’t be anything amazing, but if you’re careful in finding someone and managing the process, you can get a few screens done on one platform, and in an app store (or on the web), and maybe even test if you can solve a problem effectively with said app.

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