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apps apps apps

My iPhone and I are in unrequited love. I use it for everything. I make grocery lists in Notes with Siri, track my workouts with Fitocracy, figure out where to dine out with Urbanspoon, directions from Google Maps, catching up with e-mail, checking in on Facebook and Twitter, Dropbox for transferring files between my iPad and iMac, and even making check deposits using Ally’s banking app.

Now how many free Apps did I list? Every app I listed is available for free on the Apple App Store or comes bundled with the iPhone. They’re also the ones I use the most and talk about the most to others. What do I like about them? They do exactly what I need them to do with no frills.

So you want to make an app and put it on the App Store? Don’t expect to make a profit, since most apps that are downloaded from the App Store are free only 19% of apps are bought with 30% for your $1.29 profit going to Apple, but instead look at it as a way to enhance an overall brand that creates more engagement with your audience. A good app will get people talking and in turn will get them talking about your brand. I’ve made people switch banks just by talking about my bank’s iPhone app. So what makes a good app that won’t get sent to the graveyard?

  1. Follow the KISS (keep it simple stupid) method of design. Apple provides their own exhaustive human interface guidelines for designers and developers to know what makes a great app. It’s a wealth of information and I’ve used apps before that obviously didn’t read a word of this Web page. They were a hard to follow mess that didn’t stay on my phone too long.
  2. Check your competition. Did someone else already beat you to your idea? Figure out what’s good and what you can do better. Read the negative and positive reviews. Angry Birds isn’t a novel new game idea since catapult games have been around for a while, but there was something about throwing birds at pigs that had a wider appeal. Think about the overall experience as a user. Which brings me to…
  3. Don’t be spammy. Push notifications remind me of the days of JavaScript advertising pop-ups. Only use push notifications for when you need to convey important messages. Any activation of a phone helps to drain the battery. Even Android and Windows Phone users can sympathize with the limited battery life of their smart phones.
  4. Find a really good developer. If the app is poorly developed it can lead to memory leaks that cause crashing, using too much memory, or draining the battery faster, which are all negative experiences that can lead to horrible ratings and no one ever touching your app again. In the end you get what you pay for.
  5. Get the word out. This is where having an established brand helps, but new comers can get in on the game as well. Fitocracy wasn’t much a few years ago, but it has recently exploded due to marketing, social media,  and putting out an easy to use app AND web site.

What makes a good app to you? The design? The ease of use? What are some of your favorites and why?

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