When it comes to developing a mobile app, it comes down to simplicity and strategy.
People unconsciously have the misconception that all apps need to be fun, a huge user base, and lots of sharing – like an Angry Birds or a Candy Crush. When I am proposing a mobile solution, I often get asked to incorporate these features, but isn’t always the formula to success.
The fact is, not all apps need to be like this, especially corporate and enterprise apps. Fun, popular and social are all positives, but you should take a step back and consider your overall mobile strategy and how that fits into your business. Because above all else, and before all else, a mobile solution needs to be strategic.
Strategic means that you need to first think about what your business does, and what specifically you want to get out of your mobile solution - whether it be increasing brand awareness, customer engagement or product sales. A fully fledged mobile solution for businesses can be an expensive undertaking to build and maintain, and can’t be justified without measurable results.
Here are a few of today’s best business apps and why they work so well.
Above and before all else, a mobile solution needs to be strategic. Mailbox is an email management app that is better than the iOS 7 default. The best apps are simple and achieve a specific purpose better than others – in this case helping busy people better manage their inboxes.
Mailbox considers how people use email these days. Emails are no longer just messages of information; they have crossed over into to-do lists. Mailbox has three tabs so you swipe messages into either reminder, archive or trash and keep your inbox clean. Messages swiped into the reminder tab then need to be scheduled for completion at a later date.
With people using their smartphones increasingly for emailing while they’re on the go, Mailbox keeps your inbox organised and keeps you on top of tasks. The developers saw a need for a simplified mail app that also acts as a task manager and came up with a very efficient, easy-to-use solution.
Consumer apps such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush have experienced huge success through their simple and intuitive formula of making the game fun, charging money for in-game purchases, and growing the user base by social network sharing. Many businesses want to implement these features in their apps but must first consider their objectives and strategic reason to exist.
StockTouch for example is a popular app that does not focus on being fun, charging money or sharing socially, but meets it’s objective of being a useful finance app – and a must-have for casual investors, especially those trading in the US market. It is very difficult to represent a large amount of data in an app in a form that’s consumable but StockTouch has done that and in a very impressive way.
StockTouch summarises recent market activity of the top 100 stocks in each of the nine leading sectors. It does this using a heat map, with bright green representing the best performing stocks and dark red representing the worst. This colour mapping gives you an impressive quick overview in a few seconds, and you can then zoom in to individual stocks for further statistics and performance graphs.
This app serves a useful purpose, saving investors a lot of research time, and achieves this while having an attractive, responsive graphical interface.
LUMOback is the first posture sensor and mobile app on the market to support healthy backs and aim to change posture habits. It was developed following a successful crowd-funding campaign where entrepreneurs raised over US$100,000 in less than two weeks to fund production. As is essential with all apps, the developers started with a concept and built it up slowly with countless hours of user testing, questioning and refining.
It works with a belt that you tie around your waist, which gently vibrates when it senses that the wearer is slouching. Movement data is then relayed via Bluetooth to your mobile app. The app features an avatar that replicates your movements on screen in real time and acts as a feedback mechanism to assist you to sit up to the correct position. It also gives you more qualitative data, every day giving you a posture score and then averaging it out so you can analyse your weekly and month results. It also provides data on how long you slouched for that day and graphs it
This app is great because it is a service that doesn’t just live in the app - it ties into reality. The digital world and real world are increasingly merging and apps like this are evidence of that. For people who spend hours hunched over a keyboard LUMOback is highly useful and innovative and the app is easy to use and displays data in a clear and simple way.
As mentioned, some of the most successful apps incorporate social network sharing, and this is something the Toyota Roadtrip app excels at where similar ‘road trip’ apps do not. Other apps on the market will simply track a drive on a map, whereas Toyota Roadtrip allows you to track your movements, stops and landmarks and take photos along the way. It then integrates polished social network sharing encouraging you to share trips with friends on Facebook. A highlight feature is that you can fully document a road trip regardless of network coverage. While driving through areas without 3G or 4G service, the Toyota Roadtrip app continues to work offline, using satellite GPS to map your trip, and then updating the app data when you arrive back in range of a network.
Toyota Roadtrip is functional, social and technical. The app is groundbreaking in its process of saving data even when out of network coverage.