Mobile devices and their application stores are the epitome of consumer ease, choice and product availability to date. People have the store in their pocket ever-available, the payment a password. The sheer volume of apps drives competition and perceived value into a great price tag. The 'try this on for size' version is almost, if not entirely, the full product. Upgrades? They’re free.
David Senior is CEO and co-founder of Lowdownapp
For app providers, the window of opportunity, compared to the time, money and effort that goes into the creation of an app is fairly short, with second or third chances as rare as huge success itself.
The window of opportunity
A referral from a friend, blogger recommendations, great marketing, app store optimisation, hard to manufacture word-of- mouth buzz.
A user downloads the application without much attention to the details: description, screenshots, reviews.
Search name/click app store link, see app icon, glimpse star rating, tap, tap, password: completed in seconds. Why take time over the process -- just buy first, try second! The application should ‘just work’ by any measurement of quality, and it must improve lives instantly!
The app is downloaded, the user is in. They don’t want to sign up -- there are better things to do than spend minutes filling out yet another form, they’re not even sure what’s just been sold to them.
Nice design, cute animation, something amusing? Awe? Their interest is piqued (or not), hopefully the app did the dance and rose above the ocean of available content.
There are two basic consumer responses:
"It's intriguing. I'm gonna invest a little of my precious time in checking this out properly."
“Woah, this form is harrowing.” Tap and hold, X, delete.
There’s a third response which follows the first:
"Oh, another nice little walkthrough of an app. Things to read?? Urgh!" Skip, skip, skip. "Finally, I’m off."
The results are in…
The app was needed right then: directions home, a place to eat, sharing a photo in a new funky way, it's done a great job.
It didn’t work out? Hopefully the icon was memorable, or they accepted the push notifications and you catch them later at the right time; the messaging was spot on, enticing the consumer back in. Maybe the service is based on notifying users being in certain circumstances and it predicted an exact need at exactly the right time.
You'd better give them the perfect experience; efficient, no-nonsense directions, just what they were looking to eat at that time, the best looking photo they've ever taken. If you don't, you’ve just crossed event horizon and only a power beyond known physics will pull them back to your content. If you’re lucky, you get some attention a month later on a lazy app browsing afternoon.
If all has gone well, you've possibly created your first trigger and your work is done. For now, pat yourself on the back knowing you made it past the first window.
If you’ve taken the time to fully understand the situations and users your service is targeting, you might have ensured there are regular touch points back into your app. A survival tool for when someone is stranded in the middle of the Atlantic ocean just isn’t going to cut the digital mustard.
You know your audience: they eat out a lot, have a penchant for taking photos, have meetings all over the place and need to know how to get back and forth quickly and efficiently.
The Trigger is Pulled
Your user is in a new location. They're stuck for something to eat, they just witnessed a unique moment that has to be captured, they need to get back to the office from… Where?
They think for a second: 'The last time I was in this situation there was this app that made my life better…' Ding dong, the app just got its second performance.
It knows the user's office, with one tap they’re on their way back. The photo app opens and that perfect filter they used last time is defaulted, the shot is fantastic. The eat out app knows the user went for tapas and finds the nearest similar establishment.
Seconds have just been shaved off the user's valuable time, friends are liking the picture all over social media, she even got back to work early to finish off that proposal.
Another great day in the bag.
The Winner Word of mouth is sizzling: on Twitter, Facebook, tech blogs, offices, bars, coffee shops, cigarette breaks. Millions of users are using, downloading, or just seconds away from launching your app, reaping the benefit it provides, allowing them to get on with the non-app-related blessings of life.
Investors and tech companies are calling with interest, millions of users are using your app, they’re not even shopping around (for the moment). You're on the road to success, you’ve already spent the investment money (in your head) and you’re thinking about the next direction.
The flip-side: App downloads are diminishing month by month, you can't even look at the reviews anymore. Investors wriggle out of your grasp and disappear from view. Buy out? Not on your nelly. You play it out for a few months, a year, or just move on.
Maybe you prepared for failure: you set up useful analytics to improve the app in this worst case scenario, version 1.1 is going to nail it.
Worse? The killer app that does what yours set out to do, but better? Just. Blew. Up.
The Downright Distraught
Apple just pulled your app from their store, and it was just about to hit the big time. GAME OVER.
This article originally appeared on Lifehacker UK