Growth of mobile apps

Designing Mobile Apps – Less Is More

Growth of mobile apps

The biggest mistake made by new app designers is putting too much functionality into their mobile apps. According to user experience expert Peter Merholz, Sr. Director of Programs and Product Experience at Jawbone, apps are far too complex. “What happens with folks is they take the web experience that they’ve been building for 15 – 20 years, which has grown and added a lot of capability, and they try to figure out how to get that all in a mobile app,” says Peter.

When designing mobile apps, it’s important to think hard and “focus on the core tasks” that the user wants to perform and strip the rest away. According to Peter, one must always ask, “How do you make it as simple and straightforward as possible?”

For app designers this is much easier said than done. Let’s say you have an app that does five things and you need to simplify. How do you decide what the user wants and doesn’t want? Good decisions require profiling your target users into personas, getting to know these personas, and discovering what their core tasks might be.

This type of research involves a lot of creative thinking and experimentation, which starts with prototyping. A prototype is not a full functioning app but a mockup that simulates the user flow. When the prototype is ready, you can start user testing that takes a series of users through the flow, watches them use the app, sees where they get stuck, and records their comments. Finally, Peter suggests A/B testing to determine which variants in a design would be most successful.

Anybody can build and app, and many do, but few have the patience and expertise to perfect their inventions. This type of focus is something we see continually at Apple. It is worth reminding the audience that Apple invented the idea of the smartphone app and set the tone with simplicity. This is what made the iPhone so popular.

Recently Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) said on the Charlie Rose show, “It’s so easy to add. It’s hard to edit. It’s hard to stay focused.” As hard as it may be, this is the true skill that’s required for building a successful mobile app. It’s honing, perfecting, trying new things, and not being afraid to tear it apart and go back to the drawing board.

These days the focus in mobile app development is rightfully on UI/UX, which means User Interface / User Experience. This gets at how the user feels while using your app and has everything to do with how the app looks, behaves, and functions. At first, a lot of UX work went off shore, but it was quickly discovered that the designer needs to fully understand and be immersed in the culture where the app will be used. Therefore, a lot of design work now stays local.

In summary, a good app user experience can be created by knowing your target users well, thinking hard about their core task, and then stripping away the non-essentials. User testing and A/B testing can then be used to refine the design.

About the Author:

John Houghton is a serial entrepreneur and founder of MobileCast Media, a mobile app development and mobile content company focusing on strategy and user experience. John’s specialty is product management for high growth software products, having twice built $100 million dollar software brands, generating over half a billion dollars in new license revenue for Oracle, Commerce One, and SAP. His company’s customers are Ericsson, Cisco, Accenture, Audi, and Skyy Spirits.

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Enterprise Developers and the Internet of Things

We recently had the opportunity to host the Application Developers Alliance and a panel of leading industry experts for a ‘beerside chat’ at APPNATION VI on the opportunities and challenges facing enterprise developers in the context of an increasingly connected world.

Given the theme of CES this year – the Internet of Things – this timely conversation contemplates the evolving role of enterprise developers to create new standards of data transference, customer feedback, testing, and troubleshooting to meet rising customer expectations that the plethora of connected devices “just work,” regardless of their complexity.

Tune into the conversation above to learn from John Ellis (Ellis & Associates), Karl Heimer (Autoimmune), Todd Peterson (Aviation Battery Systems, LLC), David DiMeo (Innovation Lab at Ford Direct), and Greg Krueger (Leidos) to hear about the future of enterprise product development across a spectrum of industries.

App Developers Alliance workshop

Seattle App Strategy Workshop with the App Developers Alliance

App Developers Alliance's App Strategy Workshop

Apptentive is excited to announce that the App Developers Alliance is coming to Seattle on February 12 to kick off their 2015 App Strategy Workshop series, and we’d love to meet up with you there!

Apptentive CEO and co-founder Robi Ganguly will be speaking alongside Ian Sefferman of MobileDevHQ on the importance of mobile feedback and its role in engagement and differentiation in an increasingly crowded app marketplace. Tune in to learn the secrets of soliciting feedback and using those customer insights to build a product your customers not only use, but love.

About the App Strategy Workshop:

Date: Thursday, February 12 | 4:00-7:30 PM
Location: Impact HUB | 220 Second Ave South, Seattle, WA 98104
Price: Free, if you sign up with the code Apptentive

Attendees will get to:

  • Gain key insights from industry leaders at Apptentive, OpenX, Millennial Media, AppLovin, Sirqul, TUNE, and more on how to build better apps that are both engaging and useful to your target audiences.
  • Explore the innovative monetization, acquisition, and analytics strategies that help determine the true value of your users.
  • Learn the secrets to taking feedback from your audiences to improve the user experience of your apps.
  • Grab a drink after the workshop with speakers and attendees at Impact HUB (beer, wine, and pizza served).

Register here with the code Apptentive to reserve your place for free. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up today!

Missed last year’s App Strategy Workshop? Check out this video from last year’s workshop, in which Robi and Ian shared share some tips on mobile app monetization:

Appy Hour

New Year, New Appy Hours

Appy Hour

We’re aiming to make the new year a little ‘Appier with some exciting new Appy Hour meetups coming your way!

Appy Hours are a way to meet app developers and professionals and learn about what’s brewing in your local app community. These events are not about seats, pitches, presentations, or an agenda. Instead, they always feature a cool location, free drinks, and the prospect of meeting some new people working on mobile applications with whom you can share ideas and actually speak the same (iOS and Android) language.

While we’re looking to expand throughout the course of 2015, we’re starting the year off with Appy Hours in Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Diego:

Appy Hour In Seattle

Our January Seattle Appy Hour will be hosted by the mobile marketing masters at TUNE on Thursday, January 15 from 6 to 8 pm. Specials thanks to Monica Gordon, Ian Sefferman, and the entire TUNE team for hosting us for a spirited evening of catching up and meeting new folks over beers and snacks in the TUNE kitchen. RSVP here.

January Appy Hour @TUNE Kitchen

Thursday, Jan 15, 2015, 6:00 PM

TUNE Kitchen
2125 Western Avenue Seattle, WA

32 Members Attending

It is the start of a new year – a year in which mobile engineering, marketing, and media will no doubt reach new heights of importance. Let’s gather at mobile marketing all-stars TUNE and share beers and ideas together as a Mobile Development and Product Management group. This month we appreciate the generosity of Monica Gordon, Ian Sefferman, and …

Check out this Meetup →

Sponsors of Seattle Appy Hours in the near future include Alaska Airlines, Ratio, and Staples. Stay tuned for more on these events or subscribe to our Seattle meetup page.

Appy Hour In Los Angeles

Appy Hour LA is back for its second-ever gathering – thanks to the sponsorship of our friends at Bitium! Our January Appy Hour will be held on Wednesday, January 14 from 6 to 8 pm at Bitium’s Santa Monica office.

This will be a casual evening with drinks and healthy snacks provided by the local Whole Foods Venice. Special thanks to Scott Kriz, Rand Lutomski, Karen Chu, and the rest of the Bitium team for making this possible. RSVP here.

Join us at Bitium for Appy Hour in January!

Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015, 6:00 PM

Bitium, Inc.
2448 Main Street Santa Monica, CA

15 Members Attending

Appy Hour LA is back, and at a new venue – thanks to the sponsorship of our friends at Bitium! Our January Appy Hour will be held on Wednesday, January 14 from 6 to 8pm at Bitium’s Santa Monica office.Join us to kick off the new year and share a bit about your 2015 mobile roadmap with mobile engineers, product managers, marketers, and entrepreneur…

Check out this Meetup →

Appy Hour In San Diego

And last but not least, EvoNexus will once again be hosting our San Diego Appy Hour on Wednesday, January 21 from 6 to 8 pm, thanks to the help of our friends Viktor Nemeth and Victor Gao.

Join us to kick off the new year and share a bit about your 2015 mobile roadmap with mobile engineers, product managers, marketers, and entrepreneurs from the greater San Diego area. RSVP here.

January Appy Hour at EvoNexus

Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015, 6:00 PM

101 W Broadway #200 San Diego, CA

3 Members Attending

Help us reign in the new year with our January Appy Hour! We’ll be hosted by our friends at EvoNexus for the first Appy Hour of the year on Wednesday, January 21st from 6 – 8 pm.Join us to discuss all things mobile and share a bit about your 2015 mobile roadmap with mobile engineers, product managers, marketers, and entrepreneurs from the greater …

Check out this Meetup →

Hope to see you at one of these events! As always, we encourage you to use the hashtag #AppyHour or tweet @Apptentive with any photos or comments from the event.

Interested in sponsoring a future Appy Hour? Shoot us an email and we’ll be in touch!


Shifts In The Mobile Conversation: Takeaways From ModevCon

Apptentive CEO Robi Ganguly speaking at ModevCon 2014

Apptentive CEO Robi Ganguly speaking at ModevCon 2014.

I recently traveled to DC and presented at ModevCon on growing mobile app retention and revenue by investing in customer engagement. Over the course of the two-day conference, I had the opportunity to speak with leaders in the mobile app industry and attended a number of breakout sessions on app design and the mobile experience.

Throughout these sessions and conversations, three themes kept coming up as an indicator of where mobile (and the way we talk about mobile) is headed: the rise of enterprise apps, the importance of mobile customer relationships, and a heightened focus on the customer’s experience with your app.

1. Mobile enterprise apps are on the rise.

Mobile-first isn’t just for startups. Across the globe, enterprises are using mobile to redefine themselves and innovate.

Skip Potter, Capital One’s Vice President of Engineering, cemented this point in his opening keynote address. Capital One has been an early adopter of mobile payments and other new technologies that make banking easier. In his presentation, Skip went over his experience with rolling out an array of native apps across multiple platforms to better serve the needs of Capital One’s 62 million customers. Building not only a “mobile-first” but an “API-first” mentality into the company’s culture, he was able to design a scalable mobile infrastructure and leverage the growth of the mobile market to expand Capital One’s business and increase its customer value.

Skip best summed up the trend of large enterprises embracing technology and mobile solutions when he defined Capital One not as a bank, but as a tech company that just happens to work in the financial services industry.

2. The conversation is shifting to emotional dynamics.

We’re not the only ones talking about Customer Love. Throughout ModevCon, I noticed conversations shifting from usability to desirability when it comes to valuing an app. With over 1.3 million apps in both the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store, it’s no longer enough just to create an app that’s useful. You need to build an app that people want to use – even as they’re presented with an array of equally useful apps that seem to address the same need.

In a ModevCon session titled, “Win Hearts, Win Users with Emotional Design,” Erin Daniels of Design for People showed the power of empathy in e-commerce. By tapping into their customers’ emotions, Erin revealed, mobile publishers are able to truly delight their customers.

Delighted customers, in turn, will be more engaged, more apt to promote your app, and more willing to make a purchase through your app as a result of the trust you’ve built.

3. The mobile experience is becoming less about the app and more about the people.

No matter the topic, there was one concept that each of the sessions ultimately circled back to – the customer experience.

But in contrast to previous discussions around user interface and accessibility, speed, and usability, this year’s conversations took a broader approach when it came to defining the mobile experience. The customer experience today has less to do with the design of your app than it does with the meaningful interactions you have with your mobile customers. It’s the customer who is becoming increasingly mobile, and it is the job of the app to reflect and integrate with the consumers’ changing lifestyle and expectations.

Dan Katz, ‎the Vice President of Technology Solutions at INADEV Corporation, took a particularly interesting approach to this conversation as he discussed his project of introducing mobile and augmented reality experiences to the hallowed grounds of the National Mall. INADEV was given the opportunity to “reinvent the customer experience” at the National World War II and National Korean War Veterans Memorials in Washington D.C. by designing an ecosystem of experiences, systems, and apps to enhance and enrich an already powerful experience, showing that the impact of a strong customer experience reaches far beyond the app. (Read more about INADEV’s work with the National Mall here.)

Apptentive CEO Robi Ganguly speaking at ModevCon 2014

How have you experienced these three shifts with mobile and the way we talk about it? Or perhaps you have a different perspective on where mobile is headed?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Appy Hour

Help Bring Appy Hour To Your City!

Appy Hour San Diego

Appy Hour gets some sun! Join us for our new events in San Diego and Los Angeles.

We’re proud to announce that our Appy Hour meetup series is growing, following the continued success of our original Seattle event. We are now rolling out the first of many Appy Hours in San Diego and Los Angeles, with the help of local incubators, workspaces, and our awesome customers. We are excited to futher expand into other tech hubs across the U.S. in the new year and are currently looking for a few dedicated Appy Hour Ambassadors to make this happen. (Sound interesting? Drop us a comment below!)

So what is Appy Hour?

Appy Hour is the first happy hour for app enthusiasts to gather, relax with a drink in hand, and discuss everything that goes on in the world of apps and app development. These events are a chance for you to meet other mobile application developers, project managers, mobile CS/CX folks, entrepreneurs in your area. Appy Hour is open to anyone building a new app (or working on an idea for one), working to create a mobile-first mentality within their company, or just particularly mobile-minded. Technical and non-technical folks welcome!

If you’re in the Seattle or Southern California area, join us for an upcoming Appy Hour to meet some of the folks from the Apptentive team and share your projects and ideas with other app enthusiasts and developers. Who knows, maybe you’ll even meet that perfect addition to your team?

Appy Hours in December:

If you don’t see your city in the list above, we’d love to have you join our team of Appy Hour Ambassadors to work with Apptentive to introduce Appy Hour to your community. Just nominate yourself in the comments below or tweet us @Apptentive, and we’ll get in touch shortly.

Likewise, if you’re interested in having your workplace host a future Appy Hour in one of our existing cities (Seattle, Los Angeles, or San Diego), shoot us an email!

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Now is the Time to Embrace Mobile-First Strategies

Interbrand recently updated its ranking of top brands by value globally, and guess who came in #1 and #2?

Apple and Google.

Think internet connected mobile devices aren’t the most important change in the human experience in the last 10 years? Think again – not even the mighty Coca-Cola was able to unseat the two leaders in mobile software and experiences in the brand study, and Interbrand cited the two companies’ influence in the mobile sector as a primary driver of their brand value position.

The mobile revolution has proved to be one of the most rapid and widespread diffusions of technology in history and embracing mobile has provided monumental growth opportunities for those companies ahead of the curve.

Despite this, a mere 17 percent of marketers participating in a recent CMO Council survey believe their mobile strategies are “fully integrated and aligned with their overall marketing strategies,” with 31 percent admitting to viewing mobile as a campaign rather than a business strategy.

We thought it was time to shed some light on this issue by sharing some trends and predictions for the mobile industry. As you assess your 2015 mobile strategy, consider the following:

Mobile adoption is accelerating at unprecedented rates.

Growth of the mobile internet.

Growth of the mobile internet. Data from GSMA Intelligence.

  • In 2015, mobile gaming revenues are predicted to surpass traditional console gaming revenues for the first time, with upwards of 40 percent year over year growth. Newzoo estimates that the mobile gaming market will total $30.3 billion in 2015 and reach $40.9 billion in 2017.
  • By 2020, half of the world’s population will have access to the internet-connected mobile devices. According to a forecast by GSMA Intelligence, mobile internet will be in the hands of an additional 1.6 billion people over the course of the next five years, almost all of whom will come from the developing world.

Mobile commerce is soaring with new innovations in payment systems and mobile assistants.

How U.S. consumers intend to use mobile apps in their 2014 holiday shopping

How U.S. consumers intend to use mobile apps in their 2014 holiday shopping. Image courtesy of Burst Media.

Mobile is uprooting traditional business models.

Mobile customer service preferences

Mobile is rapidly moving up the list in customer service channel preference. Image courtesy of ClickFox.

  • In 2015, mobile-first companies will embrace the mobile channel to reorganize and optimize their business model, creating a significant opportunity gap between the mobile leaders and laggards. According to Forrester’s 2015 mobile predictions, the businesses that stand out as leaders in the coming years will be those that use mobile in new and creative ways to change both their cost structure and revenue models.
  • Brands are already dramatically cutting costs on customer service calls by engaging customers directly within their mobile apps. Even better, the market is ready and desirable of this change. 72 percent of consumers surveyed by ClickFox said they would replace some traditional channels with mobile apps if the same customer service features were available and 21 percent said they would replace all channels with in-app features.

How important is the mobile channel to your business? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow @Apptentive on Twitter for more astonishing mobile trends and predictions.


Becoming An Ethical App Developer at Renaissance IO

Last week I had the chance to attend Renaissance IO – a single track conference focused on helping iOS app developers build better software. The small size of the conference and openness of the community created a unique experience. Every attendee got the chance to talk with every speaker and create new friends to go along with the valuable insight and inspiration the conference provided. If you weren’t able to make it, I recommend you sign up to see videos of the sessions.

Every session was valuable and while I generally write-up an overview of the conferences I attend, I’ll be focusing on one session that stood out for me and leave the rest to be consumed via the video sessions.

Ethics for App Makers

Shannon Vallor, a professor of philosophy at Santa Clara University, gave a talk on a subject that I have heard in regards to technology, but never broken down and targeted specifically at app developers.

As an app developer have you ever thought about ethics in regards to your work?

1. Set Appropriate Limits

You should limit the amount and kinds of information you collect about the people using your app. Only collect information you need for the app to perform its function. Don’t collect as much information as you can and store it for later just in case you may need it.

Every question and data point you collect about your customers needs to be carefully considered. Make sure you know why you are collecting something, how it will be used, and who you are collecting it for. If information is somehow leaked who could be affected and how seriously? Who might be able to gain access or purchase the information at a later time?

Not everyone is comfortable with sharing personal information. Look at your app through the perspective of an ordinary customer whose expectations and comfort zone can be different from an app developer or extremely tech savvy individual.

2. Making Money

Is taking advantage of human psychology or age an ethical way to make money? This is an interesting discussion. In general, it is difficult to make a living off of mobile apps so any solution to help developers make money is used. Apps that make money by appealing to people’s natural desires and tendencies may seem like an ethical way to make money, but in some situations it isn’t. Just because it is natural doesn’t necessarily mean it is good, just as doing something legally doesn’t make it right. You need to decide for yourself if your app and your monetization strategy is something you’d be proud to tell your friends and family about.

3.  Software That Reinforces Socioeconomic Inequalities

Do the apps that you develop reinforce socioeconomic inequalities? Probably not, but it is something to always consider. If your app is expensive or requires equipment that many people cannot afford, does that make it inaccessible to people who may need it? If it is, then you should consider taking measures to expand affordability of the product.

4. The Blame Game – Corporate Software Development

Should you worry about how the software you develop is being used by your company? Yes! Developers understand the nature of technology and how it can affect people better than anybody. Make sure you stay involved and know how the code you wrote is being used.

When it comes down to it, you can be blamed for anything, whether it was your fault or not, that’s just the nature of the world we live in. It is your job to stand up and take the correct course of action when you can. Be conscious of how your software is used. If you foresee an unethical use of your software standup and say something. If you discover that software is being used unethically after the fact, it is never too late to remedy the problem.

The discussion on ethical software development is something every developer should take part in at least once. It is important to take a step back and look at what you do in the larger scheme of things, especially as software has such an impact on our lives. Just keeping these ideas in mind will help us create apps that help us flourish together as opposed to software that may exploit us instead.

Security and Privacy Rights

Security, privacy, and ethics all go hand in hand. I recommend that you read the FTC guidelines on mobile app privacy and take the necessary steps to securely store the information you gather from your customers. As software becomes more and more integral to our daily lives, we should be confident that it is helping us grow positively and reassure people that their information is safe and secure.

If you have any comments or thoughts on this topic please share them below.

Hacking Mobile Apps

5 Easy Ways to Make Your App More Secure than Snapchat

Hacking Mobile Apps

Did you know that 78% of the top 100 Android and iOS apps have been hacked? It’s true. And the problem is, it’s not going to get any better over time. There is an increasing amount of malware targeting smartphones and it’s no surprise since smartphone adoption is rising so quickly. Unfortunately, when we sit down and create our apps the last thing we want to think about is the boring app security side of things.

Marketing, getting updates to our customers, and designing a beautiful app are honestly much more fun. But just think about the poor ratings and feedback Snapchat got after the hack. The truth is, you don’t have to be a security expert to have a secure app. Implementing just a few of these simple security techniques take less than an hour and you’ll be back to making your amazing app in no time. Check these out.

1. Make sure you use SSL to talk to your servers

Not using SSL to pass your user’s data back and forth from their phone to the servers is like ringing the dinner bell to invite hackers to the feast. Even some of the biggest companies, Amazon in particular, have been caught not passing data securely in their mobile apps. Don’t risk your user’s data because of a simple oversight. It’s easy to use SSL to protect use data, especially since the two most popular platforms handle most of the dirty work for you. Just use “https://” any time you want customers to sign in, provide an email, or anything else you wouldn’t want hackers to intercept and you will already be well ahead of the game.

 2. Invest in two-factor authentication

You are probably familiar with two-factor authentication without even knowing it. It’s the same technology your bank or email provider uses to make sure you are who you say you are. The good news is you don’t have to be a large bank or email provider to pull this off. There are a few dead simple options app developers can use to get going in a matter of minutes like Google Authenticator or DuoSecurity. Just be sure to choose an option that won’t be difficult for you to implement and for your customers to use.

3. Use a secure mobile app content management system

When you send video, images, or any other content to your customers, how do you send it? If you are delivering that content remotely, consider using a secure mobile app CMS like Joppar Content. Think about it. The content in your app is just as important, if not more important than the app’s function itself. If you don’t want hackers to stream infamous scenes from The Godfather to your kids, make sure you protect where your content is being served.

4. Don’t skip on code reviews

One of the good things about developing apps with a team is the extra expertise you have at your fingertips. Even if you don’t have a team of super sleuth mobile app security experts, a few developers may notice some code vulnerabilities. Don’t skip on these golden opportunities to get feedback that will help you improve your app security. Don’t have a team? That’s fine. Find a trusted developer friend, a co-worker off the clock, or pay for a code review from a few code review services online. Whatever you do, try your best to get another pair of eyes on it.

5. Don’t ask for so much information

Do you really need your mobile app customers’ middle name, phone number, address, eye color, waist size, last lunch selection, and blood type to deliver a great user experience? If you said yes, I want to see your app ;)  Asking too much information can be annoying to the user and a huge security risk. To paraphrase one of my favorite security experts Frank Rietta, ‘If you aren’t willing to spend the money or time to secure it, don’t ask for it’.

Clearly, this is not the “definitive” list of mobile app security tips, in fact it’s just the beginning. Just don’t make the same mistake as Snapchat did and think of app security as a “bonus” or “extra” thing you can do later. Adding some of these security measures into your mobile app now will help you at least give hackers a challenge later.

So, how much time do you spend on making sure your app is secure? What preventative measures have you taken so far? Let me know in the comments below.

About the author: Patrick Chukwura, co-founder of Joppar, has been a developer for over 13 years. He has two popular apps that were downloaded over 1 million times and featured by Apple, Mashable, CNET, and more. Now, he helps make mobile app optimization tools that help mobile app teams launch apps easier and faster.

The Mobile Marketer's Guide to App Store Ratings and Reviews

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5 New Year’s Resolutions for Mobile App Developers in 2014

Mobile Apps 2014
2013 marked the year of mobile app proliferation. It is uncommon to find someone, of any age, who hasn’t experienced using a mobile app. The mobile marketplace itself has shown maturity in design, functionality, advertisements, customer communication, and crafting a sustainable business.

With the improvements to mobile apps over the year, mobile app developers and companies are faced with a more difficult challenge than any before – customer expectations. The average person using mobile apps has considerable experience with a large range of apps and expect the best.

To have a successful app in 2014, here are 5 resolutions that shouldn’t be broken.

1. Customer Communication

Customer support, customer service, and a great customer experience  is more important than ever for every mobile app, no matter what vertical you’re in. Having a direct communication channel between you and your customers can be the difference between a successful app and one that fails.

Every app would rather receive feedback  directly from customers instead of receiving it in the app store accompanied by a negative review. Being able to listen and respond to customers is the foundation of exceptional support and service. Taking an unhappy customer and solving their problem can easily turn a negative experience into a positive one. Be sure to listen to your customers in-app in 2014 and you will be rewarded.

2. Improved Performance

Even with the large number of apps that are available, only 40% of them actually get used and a large portion of these are plagued by performance issues. Apps that crash, freeze, or are just plain slow are often immediately deleted. Consumers don’t care to deal with a low performance application, especially when there is bound to be an alternative app (or five) they can use. App performance needs to be constantly tracked and monitored.

Here are a couple of things to remember when measuring (and testing) your app’s performance:

  • Track performance on multiple devices and operating systems
  • Track performance on different networks: wifi, 3g, 4g, and LTE

Create apps that perform well on any network, the majority of devices, and the most recent operating systems. Apps that don’t perform well rarely get revisited. Even after performance issues get fixed, it is unlikely a customer will choose to download the app again. Test and measure throughout every step of the development cycle.

3. Intelligent Advertising

Advertising provides revenue for many mobile apps and often serves as an app discovery tool as well. However, people don’t open an app to see an advertisement and too ads can ruin the experience and cause low retention rates. Even a single poorly placed ad can cause someone to close the app, lose interest in completing a purchase, or discourage someone from using the app again.

Be intelligent when and where you advertise inside your apps. Make an effort to incorporate your ads as seamlessly as possible. Don’t settle for using ad networks that have low quality advertisements that degrade the overall design of your app.

4. Design Updates

Design has become one of the most important aspects for a successful mobile app. Both iOS 7 and KitKat are focused on design and apps need to start reflecting this. In Apple’s case, all apps must be compliant with iOS 7 by February 1st.

To get started on improving your app design, take a look at these resources:

5. Security

Security is a real issue for everybody using mobile apps. In a recent report from HP, 97% of apps contained a privacy issue, 86% lacked basic security defenses, and 75% fail to properly encrypt personal data. As the general population starts to rely more heavily on using mobile apps, security is of the utmost importance.

The newer operating systems give consumers more control than ever over their privacy settings, but many don’t understand the implications and security concerns surrounding mobile apps. As an app developer it is incredibly important to develop apps that are secure from the ground up. You may not be reliable for any breaches in security, but you have an obligation to protect customer information to the best of your ability.

New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

Mobile app developers hold the future of how we interact with technology, connect with companies, and organize our lives. Follow these 5 New Year’s resolutions that mobile app developers should not break, and you’ll be off to a great start.

iPhone Localization

Localization and Mobile Apps: The Start of a Beautiful Friendship

LocalizationIf you’re able to read this sentence, chances are English is your native or second language. It is a common misconception that English takes priority over other languages, especially in the online and tech world. This is of course not true.

What we forget is that we live in a world amongst 7 billion people, which is said to increase up to 10.9B by 2050. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2012 the population of the U.S. is 313.9 million. So if you think about the fraction of the U.S. versus the world it’s essentially an ant on an ant farm.

As of 2010, there are an estimated 445 million Chinese, 154 million Spanish and 99 million Japanese language users online. It is estimated that fast-increasing language users, such as Chinese, will fully dominate and replace English as the top online language users within a matter of time. What does this entail for app developers and brands?

Well, in order to reach a higher audience for your app, you must localize it or risk being left out in the cold. English has not always been taught as a second language so we must keep our prior generations in mind, as well, when increasing a broader market for online applications. If the user doesn’t understand what your application does, chances of them downloading it are slim to none.

An article in the MIT Technology Review states, “Mobile computers are spreading faster than any other consumer technology in history.” In January 2013, Facebook reported that for the first time the majority audience was coming from mobile devices rather than personal laptops. Mobile technology is currently our leading source and therefore we must see the importance of localization and translation for mobile apps.

Many successful companies have made their apps available on a global scale, but more often than not, it has come at a steep price. Usually professional translation services can cost big bucks, sometimes as much as $.20 or $.30 per word. Traditionally, this would lead to only big companies or individuals who can afford this extra expenditure to offer multi-lingual content.

As a relatively new alternative, machine translators have since helped to provide free translations for everyone. However, for anyone who has used Google Translate, Bing Translator, or any number of the free machine translators available online, they know the results are rarely, if ever, accurate. While some might say, “something is better than nothing,” the truth is that having poorly translated content can actually have the inverse effect on your company. Many people will be turned off by the bad grammar or unintelligible content, and may actually think your company or app is poor quality and not worth downloading, regardless of the functionality or game play. That’s a big price to pay for merely trying to expand your market.

For these reasons, there has been a large push in the translation and localization field to come up with even more alternatives to help solve the language gap issue. As a member of Ackuna, a recently launched translation service, we find that the best solution for us is utilizing crowdsourcing to power localization to another level. Ackuna markets toward app developers as well as companies wishing to translate their web content. Instead of relying on inaccurate machine translations, Ackuna utilizes crowdsourcing amongst their online members to translate the content. The service is completely free and the process is a lot more accurate than any machine translation out on the market. Think of it as a translation machine powered entirely by humans.

Bottom line is that the online world is quickly becoming more globalized. The fewer language options you provide, the fewer downloads. However, what you use to translate your content matters greatly. If you have the extra money to spend on a professional translation company, by all means you should do so. Quality translation is an investment, just like any other marketing venture. However, there are new alternatives being developed which are worth exploring if money is a significant factor.

About the Author: 
Irina Usharenko is a marketing intern at Ackuna. Irina is expected to graduate this
year with a B.A. in Marketing Management from Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business. She plays a quartzy game of scrabble and has a passion for innovative technology.


Love: The Apptentive Framework to Improving the Customer Experience

We’re all about the love, but when we use the tagline “Spread the Love”  at Apptentive, we are not just talking about sharing that wonderful feeling. At Apptentive, we use the letters L.O.V.E. as a constant reminder of how we should build our product and interact with our customers. It is a framework that we use to continually improve our product while keeping our customers in mind.L.O.V.E.

These four letters create a list that you should consider everyday when you think about how your app is interacting with your customers. Each aspect of the acronym is important and there is no order in which to follow them. Instead, it is understanding that there is a right moment (which could be all the time) to use each piece of L.O.V.E that is important.

• Listen

Listening is the foundation of every positive relationship. We have all heard the adage, “hearing is easy, listening is hard,” but how does that translate to businesses and is it even important? Every customer has listened to another one for advice, suggestions, and warnings about a product. It is important for businesses to listen to the customer as well. In regards to mobile, much of the feedback can be straight forward, but take the time to digest the words being said as that can lead to a better understanding in general of how the app can be improved. For example, if someone comments on reducing the steps to access a certain feature, consider making it simpler to access all the features.

When somebody reaches out by sending feedback, asking questions, or commenting it means they care. Whether the messages contain praise or criticism, a customer is taking the time to send it. That alone gives it enough value to warrant a developers attention. For every customer complaint there are many others who feel the same way but remain silent. Ignoring negative feedback will result in some serious missed opportunities, and result in driving people away from your app. People leaving negative feedback want to use your app as much or even more so than those who provided positive feedback. Furthermore, negative feedback can provide developers with vital information on how to improve the app. In case you need any help handling negative feedback here are some tips to turn negative reviews into happy customers.

Listening is also about providing a place where you can listen and encouraging people to talk with you. This is why social media has become an integral channel to many businesses. Show that you listen to your customers by always commenting and thanking people through your social media channels. Often times people don’t reach out because they think there won’t be a response. Show them that responding is a priority. With a mobile app, any channel avoiding the app store should be used as an alternative as a place to listen (social media, blogs, forums etc.). At Apptentive, we want to make it easy for app developers to listen to their customers and provide a place in-app where customers can communicate with you, the app developer.

As 2013 picks up speed, it is clear that customers want a better customer experiences. It is so important that people will pay more for companies that provide great customer experiences. As app developers, having many different places where customers can go to be listened to is an easy step to use to start improving the customer experience.

• Observe

Observing is about incorporating data to judge if something is significant or not . In the technical world of bugs, freezes, and crashes some problems may be hard or too time consuming for customers to thoroughly explain.  Therefore, it is up to the developer to investigate an issue in order to come to a complete understanding of the issue. If app developers are focused on listening to their customers, there will be a large amount of feedback. Being able to observe allows app developers to be able to prioritize what feedback is most important and should be acted upon. In an ideal world everything can be fixed, changed, or added but that is not always possible, especially with smaller indie developers. Therefore, it is important to be able to discern what items are most significant. Don’t get sidetracked trying to improve features that only you think is important. Focus on what is important to the customer, or you won’t have any left. Apptentive provides data to app developers to more easily understand customer sentiment towards certain features and generally gathers feedback about what customers like or dislike about an app.

If it is difficult to ascertain what should be fixed through the data gathered, take a walk in the customer’s shoes for a day and use the app (or product) as if you daily life depended on it. That will help clarifying what to improve upon. You owe it to yourself to make the best app possible, because if you don’t take the time to make your app great, why should customers take the time to use it!

• Validate


Now it’s crucial to validate the time spent by the person who provided feedback as time well spent. The most common mistake made by businesses, app developers, or anybody asking for feedback is not validating the feedback they receive. Saying thank you is not enough, and can even sound like a dismissal in some instances. Tell the people who provided feedback what you plan on doing with their suggestions or to fix their complaints. Make your customers feel appreciated by explaining to them that the app has been improved thanks to their feedback. App developers should feel obligated to reach back out after any interaction with a person using their app. Whether or not you asked for feedback, it is important to show your appreciation every time it is received.

By validating feedback app developers have a wonderful opportunity to create brand advocates out of everyone who uses the app. Letting people know that their feedback helped create part of the new release creates a bond between the customer and the app, so not only will they continue to use it because they helped make it better, but they will tell their friends about the app as well. And as we all know, nothing is more effective or trusted than word-of-mouth for acquiring new customers.

• Engage

Engaging customers is the most dynamic letter in L.O.V.E. because it incorporates every other letter and is open to any innovative ideas one could have. It is important for app developers to spend time and energy engaging and developing relationships with people who use their apps. You can do this by offering discounts or invites to private betas of the app. Try sending out holiday or seasonal cards to your customers so they know that you are keeping them in mind. Consider dropping personal notes about updates and changes to the app to people who have provided feedback. Besides being personal, be creative with your messages (e.g. include a cat video link :D, or anything to bring out a smile).

Don’t let the customer have the last word in a conversation. Let the final interaction come from the developer side with a thank you note, or something as simple as wishing them a wonderful day. If need be, stay on the phone with them for 8 hours like the customer service agent from Zappos (check out the great re-enactment video).

Here are two things we like to do at Apptentive to engage others:

Be real. Real messages from real people. It is fine to give customers your personal/work e-mail and encourage them to drop a line at anytime because customers who talk to you trust you more. Provide information for them on how to stay connected with links to your blog, Facebook, twitter, or any other places where information is published to the public.

Create a presence outside your mobile app. Whatever your target audience is, host or help sponsor an event that your audience would be interested in going to. It doesn’t need to be about your app or your business. You can’t go wrong helping to nurture a community that is your target audience. If you don’t have the money to throw events, just show up to them. Being present, personal, and approachable will go a long way to helping people remember you. This also includes writing guest posts, being open to interviews, and participating in conversations around the internet.

At Apptentive the L.O.V.E. framework works great to make sure we are keeping our customers in mind as we improve our product. Each part of the framework is important as a business tries to establish itself or grow. Every time a new feature, direction, or idea is being discussed it should answer one key question. Is this something that customers want? Without our customers there would be no Apptentive. Join us in focusing on building a better mobile customer experience and sign up with Apptentive today.