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13 results returned for "Web App"

Monday, Nov 28th, 2016

Lizzie Healy

Lizzie
It's The Most Digital Time of the Year

We're making a list of E-Commerce Holiday Do's and Don'ts and checking it twice. Today marks the official online kick off of holiday shopping season with Cyber Monday, the web equivalent of Black Friday. This year more than ever, customers are avoiding the chaos of shopping in store and opting instead to hunt down bargains from the comfort of their couches. This holiday season, digital sales are expected to increase by a whopping 25%, leaving your brand with one crucial question: is your website ready? Tis the season....to prep your e-commerce site for the holidays.

DO: Be on the lookout for 2016 Marv & Harry's
The characters behind holiday hijinks now operate in a new realm: online. Cyber security needs to be a top priority for any website, but most importantly ones dealing with private consumer data like banking and credit card information.

DO: Complete a security audit.
One customer with a bad experience could destroy you with online reviews. Doing a security audit early on in the holiday shopping season ensures all transactions and access points are secured, and can prevent your customers having an experience that sends them running to Yelp.

DO: Reassure nervous shoppers.
Have yourself a merry little purchase. Include a trust seal for customers so that they can feel confident their online purchases are secure.

DO: Embrace the holidays.
The holidays overflowing with eggnog and themes (as if you couldn't tell from this blog post), and the perfect opportunity for marketers to get creative. Top retailers take advantage with specialty landing pages promoting holiday offers and products, and capitalizing on these easy themes.

DO: Include customer reviews.
The little drummer boy wants to purchase new drum sticks, and heads to two websites to compare products. One website has ample reviews, speaking to the quality of the drumsticks and providing a four-star rating. The other has no testimonials and he has no indication of the quality of said drum sticks. Which ones do you think the little drummer boy is going to purchase?

DON'T: Skimp on descriptions.
Do you hear what I hear? Customers might not understand how a product is described, so make sure there are enough pictures and information included included in every product listed. Providing accurate, informative, extensive information about products is crucial to making online sales.

DON'T: Lose customers at checkout.
I'll be home for Christmas and so will your presents. Many companies lose customers on the checkout page because of lengthy shipping times or high costs. Companies can benefit from charging lower costs for shipping or building that cost into the product. Don't pay the price of losing customers because you didn't want to pay the price of shipping.

DON'T: Forget to take into consideration the type of product your buyers are looking at. According to studies done by the Nielsen Group, shoppers looking at thumbnails of bookcases were studied carefully, while thumbnails of flat-panel TV's were pretty much ignored. The use for the product is different. One was studied for the look and feel, while the other was purely studied for function and the usefulness could be conveyed through text.

DON'T: Forget to provide a clear value proposition on your website.
Shoppers visit countless websites when shopping for holiday gifts. The items that stand out are ones that showcase their value! What can this product do for me? I don't want to purchase speakers, I want to be rocking around the Christmas Tree. I don't want wireless noise canceling headphones, I want a silent night. The crucial elements of a good value proposition are: clear, simple language that showcases the promise of value with a product. Shoppers need to understand the features, advantages, and benefits of the item!

Wednesday, Nov 16th, 2016

Lizzie Healy

Lizzie
5 Design Disasters & How To Avoid Them

Designers do not get enough credit for their work. It takes research, restraint, and ultimately a good eye. Any average person may look at a website and think, "Hey, I can do that!" Setting to work building your website from a source bursting with templates and options, you end up falling prey to the many pitfalls of poor web design. You don't need to use every plugin option. Trendy isn't always the best answer. And simple elements may get overlooked without planning. Below, we take a closer look at the problems that many DIY web designers encounter and how you can fix them.

Too Many Bells & Whistles
The Problem: You want your users to know what your site offers, what they can find there, create value, direct where to go next, build SEO into your content, reinforce your Adwords, and tell a story about your brand. You want to have it all! Well, you can't. Not on your homepage at least.
The Solution: Less really is more when it comes to your homepage. Slow your roll, and just include the intuitive elements that will lead visitors to the next, more informative sections. Don't get me wrong, its important to do all of these things on your website. But for the homepage, you only have a few lines of text and a simple graphic to do so. Throw the kitchen sink at the visitor and they won't know where to look, rendering all that "useful information" useless.

Not Enough Bells & Whistles
The Problem: In your scramble to spin up a website, you forgot to include some key elements to make your users experience better. No search bar, no call to actions, and an unorganized content layout create a poor experience for visitors.
The Solution: A search bar should be easily found on your web pages. It saves visitors time and simplifies navigation. Keep your pages simple enough to quickly scan, with a clear hierarchy to guide your eyes through the page. Using call to action buttons to direct visitors to the next sections are invaluable. Planning this before starting to design is a key to success.

Endless Scrolling
The Problem: You designed a stunning website...on desktop. You completely forgot that that paragraph of text will extend to the length of two IPhones when viewed on mobile. Who is going to read all that?
The Solution: To create an effective responsive design, or web design that has been optimized for mobile, ensure that the horizontal grids created on your web page can collapse into vertical lists when a user is operating on a mobile device. Grouping or reorganizing content can help prevent the endless scroll that results from poor designs.

Hiding Contact Info
The Problem: Failing to put a phone number, address, email, or contact information in several, easy to find locations. You put all that time and energy into trying to direct users to your website, and then once they got there, you never included how they can actually reach your business!
The Solution: Your business should be everybody's business. Providing multiple ways that users can contact you caters to their specific preferences. Make sure that this information is on every page.

Being Antisocial
The Problem: Forgetting to link your social network sites. This is a HUGE bugaboo for me. I once received an email blast from a company with no Instagram link at the bottom. Curious as to why such an established company didn't have an Instagram page, I went searching for it. It was glorious. And I almost missed out on seeing it because of an oversight! (Yes, I did email them back and tell them it was missing. Marketing looking out for marketing).
The Solution: Many people, like myself, go searching for more than just the basic information listed on a website. We want the story and the background that makes a brand what it is. Forgetting to link your social media is a major fail.

Thursday, Nov 10th, 2016

Lizzie Healy

Lizzie
Mo'bile Mo' Problems

When creating a website, every aspect is carefully thought through to determine what will yield the most success. Every button, color, and action is analyzed and carefully chosen, but the most irreplaceable element of a website is it's responsiveness. A responsive web design allows a site's layout to change to accommodate the screen it's being viewed on, and without it, your carefully chosen design elements will be useless. The importance of this cannot be understated, as customers are increasingly reaching business websites from mobile and tablet devices in addition to their computers. See for yourself how users are viewing your website with some statistics about mobile in Devshop's Mo'bile Mo' Problems infographic.

Tuesday, Nov 1st, 2016

Lauren Basil

Lauren
8 Technology Trends to Look for in 2017

1. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence and advanced machine learning are composed of technologies and processes like deep learning and neural networks. Techniques are moving beyond rule-based algorithms to create systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously making smart machines appear "intelligent". As encouraging as AI and machine learning sounds, many people don't realize that as AI evolves, so does its criminal potential.

2. Intelligent Apps

Intelligent applications such as virtual personal assistants (VPAs) are making everyday tasks easier. VPNs and virtual customer assistants (which promise to enhance customer service and sales) should transform the nature of work and structure of the workplace.


3. Intelligent Things

Intelligent things, such as drones, autonomous vehicles and smart appliances, permeate the environment, but we expect to see a shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a collaborative intelligent things model. Intelligent things will leverage AI and ML to interact with humans and surroundings.Smartphones, smartwatches and smartglasses will partner with intelligent things and form a Smart Ecosystem.

4. Virtual and Augmented Reality

Immersive technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), have captured the imagination of gamers and other consumers, but they will increasingly have business-to-business implications. We are still in the beginning stages of VR and AR and we will evolve dramatically through 2021. We will see rooms and spaces become active with things, and their connection through the mesh will appear and work in conjunction with immersive virtual worlds.

5. Digital Twin

Within three to five years, hundreds of millions of things will be represented by digital twins. A digital twin is a dynamic software model of a physical thing or system that relies on sensor data to understand its state, respond to changes, improve operations and add value. Organizations will use digital twins to proactively repair and plan for equipment service, to plan manufacturing processes, to operate factories, to predict equipment failure or increase operational efficiency, and to perform enhanced product development.

6. Blockchain Technology

Current blockchain technology hype is around the financial services industry, but a growing number of industries have joined the party. According to the Economist, a blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of records called blocks secured from tampering and revision. Each block is chained to the previous block, and the process is noted in a specially encrypted peer-to-peer network.

7. Conversational Systems

Currently the focus for conversational interfaces is focused on chatbots and microphone-enabled devices. Soon, they will move from chatbots to a broader digital mesh, which will move to an expanded range of endpoints that we will all interact with on a daily basis. These will work together to a growing extent. This will enhance ambient digital experience in the process.

8. Digital Technology Platforms

Digital technology platforms provide the basic building blocks for a digital business. There are five major focal points to enable digital capabilities and business models:



  • Information systems

  • Customer experience

  • Analytics and intelligence

  • IoT

  • Business ecosystems

Every organization will have some mix from across these five digital technology platforms. The platforms provide the basic building blocks for a digital business and are a critical enabler to become a digital business.

Tuesday, Sep 20th, 2016

Lizzie Healy

Lizzie
Push It To The Limit

Your phone is laying next to you. The screen illuminates. You stop what you're doing and scan the screen for something to peak your interest. Low balance alert, damn it. You go back to what you were doing. Every app is at risk of being forgotten, left sitting on a back screen or in a folder labeled "Uselessness" along with the stocks app. Push notifications can make the difference in your app being one of the forgotten, or making it into someone's daily routine. Last year, users who enabled push notifications launched an app an average of 14.7 times per month versus 5.4 times a month for users who did not enable notifications. 3X more launches? Sign us up.

Come on girls, let's go show the guys that we know how to become number one in a hot party show. NOW PUSH IT.

Yes, driving users to engage with your app is the main goal of push notifications. But like most marketing, there is value to be found in other elements. Is it generating buzz? Is it adding value to your brand? Is it creating awareness or building trust with your users? Your strategy should be less focused on clicks, and more focused on ways to build your brand. The language (or emojis) you choose should be consistent with the messaging you use throughout your marketing.

Turn offs include...

Did you click on this article because it looked boring? No. Something about it was compelling. The content of your push notifications need to be compelling enough that users don't turn to the dreaded "Turn off push notifications" option, and instead are persuaded to open the app. The content should be witty and interesting, and provide them with something worthy of their time. If your users don't find value in receiving notifications from you, they will turn you off quicker than cargo pants.

Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me

I am a vicious online shopper. It's a hobby, it's a sport, it's a passion. And like any good online shopper, I filter my search with precision to find exactly what I'm looking for so I don't have to wade through items I'm not interested. You can apply this same concept to your user's push notifications by allowing them to customize their settings so they choose what notifications they want to see. Rather than turning notifications off completely, allow them the opportunity to decide what's important to them. For instance, ESPN's app prompts you to choose which teams you want to receive updates on, instead of just sending you blanket news about sports. Kayak, a travel app, gives you the option to set notifications based on dates and destinations that alert you when a price has dropped based on your criteria. Users are teeing it up for you by telling you exactly what they want to hear from you.

Push, not shove

You don't want to be the whiney girlfriend complaining that users never pay attention to you anymore. Instead, try to use language that is encouraging. Don't shame users into opening your app or try to preach to them that you know best. We get it Yahoo Fantasy Football, you don't agree with my lineup choices. I read the injury report, and I don't need your judgment.

What's in it for me?

Coupons have been around for decades, but they remain relevant because they offer incentive to customers that drive them to visit. Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks provide value to users by offering them a discount or a coupon at specific times. They make them time sensitive to further drive engagement. There is a 5% higher click through rate with notifications that include the words "off" for discounts and promotions. Success is also seen with words like "come" and "only" that create a sense of urgency.

AWWWW, YEAHHHHH

I can't be the only one who immediately thinks of GrubHub when they see this phrase. In fact, its making me a little hungry to type this. GrubHub speaks to their users in a casual, comfortable manner. In addition to using language that reflects your brand, your language should speak to your demographic in a way they can relate to. Bonus points for using their name, with users being three times more likely to convert from a push notification when its personalized.

Timing is everything

When I was researching the best times to send out a push notification, I found that the strongest open rates are 10AM-1PM, with little variation by day. But I'm going to go out on a limb here with my marketing expertise and say that may not be the best time for you to hit send. I suggest you get to know your audience instead. A/B test until the cows come home. And most importantly, know your product. If you are a language app, your user probably isn't studying on a Saturday night, so hold off on push notifications that night. If you're an EDM show finding app, your user is ready to rage Saturday night and would love a push notification at that time. Know your audience and think about why they downloaded your app in the first place. Ignore best practices.

Location, Location, Location

One day I read a review for an app that assured me I would find the best drink deals in town. I downloaded it immediately, ready to start saving/drinking. I promptly forgot about it. A few days later, I was walking to a friend's apartment and ding ding! I received an alert that I was walking near a bar I could be saving/drinking at. The real value in this app was born. It was making my life easier and more convenient. Instead of leaving it to take up storage in my phone, I actually engaged with the app.

Never forget to SQUIRRELL!!

Our attention spans are short. Are you even still reading this article? Have you clicked on three different notifications while you read it? Because our attention spans are so short, we often get distracted and forget that we left an item in our cart instead of actually ordering it. Check in with users to see if they were done with your app to draw some clicks. Remember that your users have a short attention span when writing your notifications and keep the word count low. They should be able to quickly scan to determine if they are interested.

Facebook Birthdays, like, can you not?

I surveyed a few friends about the type of notifications that they liked and disliked. Highest marks go to Poshmark, an app where you can list, sell, and purchase clothing. Poshmark sends out clever notifications multiple times a day that are guaranteed to spark a conversation, a laugh, or a screenshot. As I am sitting here writing this blog post, I received a notification from Poshmark about pumpkin spice. Timely and relevant as always. However, the only thing this notification made me do was get up and get a coffee, not necessarily go sell some clothes. It's not a blatant sales pitch, but they were on my mind.

You gotta pump those numbers up, those are rookie numbers

The other response I received when polling my friends, family, and coworkers was that they have no interest in push notifications, and in fact turn most of them off immediately. A marketer's nightmare. However, a trend did emerge in the select few that made the cut. Most people continue to keep notifications on social apps, like Instagram and Snapchat. The other one was typically a news app, like CNN or New York Times. This is pretty interesting insight into what user's value. First and foremost, they value their friends. They want to stay connected with people. Second, they value the world around them and timely, breaking news. Ultimately, the most important question to consider when you are writing your push notifications is "does this create value for the user?" The ultimate goal should be to make your users life better! Don't be repetitive with your messages. Try to make your user laugh. Is this alert going to help them, or distract them? If you're going to interrupt someone's life, make it a worthwhile message.

Tuesday, Aug 30th, 2016

Jesse Nagelberg

Jn
A Few Words On Wordpress

In the role of a web developer who's worked on numerous projects involving Wordpress, and as someone whose friends and colleagues are seeking advice on the best web framework to choose, I often express the same opinion to them. I'm not a fan of WordPress. I believe that in several cases there are options that people overlook because WordPress is such a household name, and they assume that it's their only option.

I've been spending quite a bit of time lately wrestling around with WordPress. With an ever-growing competitive landscape in the web framework market, the options for your site are endless, making it difficult to choose the right one. As this isn't my first rodeo, I'm here to help guide you into making the right decision for you and your business.

I'm going to lay out the pros and cons of WordPress, my experience with it as a developer, and broadly cover some alternative services.

Everyone Has Heard of WordPress, But What Is It?

Built back in 2003, WordPress is currently the most popular framework with around 15,886,000 websites on the web and boasting an impressive 17 posts published every second on WordPress sites worldwide. WordPress.com gets more unique visitors than Amazon (126 million per month vs. 96 million per month) and WordPress.org powers some well known, highly trafficked sites such as CNN, Spotify, and TechCrunch.

It's important that I state that there is a big difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, here's a great resource on explaining this further. Simply put, the .com is the fully hosted version of the framework where there is no coding required whatsoever and you can pick from a range of themes and customize the designs yourself, much like SquareSpace which I'll mention later. You pick a theme and they handle the technical aspects for you. The .org version is the self-hosted version where you can install custom themes and plugins to get a more customized and feature rich website. In this article I'm mainly going to be talking about my experience with the .org version.

Wordpress is a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to create, edit, and publish web content through their web interface. Out of the box, one would consider it a very useful product, offering inexhaustible numbers of themes, plugins, and options for integrations with 3rd party services such as MailChimp and contact forms. You would have everything you would need to build a basic website and the ability to create a far more advanced one if you so choose. These numerous features available to you are designed to take the whole development (i.e. coding) aspect out of your way by allowing you to create and edit content and utilize other tools on both the front end (visual aspect) and backend (data) portion of the site. An example of this could be dragging and dropping rows of text and images via tools like Visual Composer or creating, editing, and deleting blog posts that are created through your backend web interface.

Most importantly, WordPress has a huge developer community. In fact, it's an open source platform, meaning that the core code used to power the CMS is open to anybody to use and develop. Many developers can create their own themes and plugins to share and sell with the community making it an opportune choice for people to hop on the bandwagon and contribute.

This Sounds Great, But There's A Few Problems:

Despite its vast popularity and widespread use, someone simply uttering the word "WordPress" aloud stirs up several emotions and groans amongst developers and non-developers alike. WordPress is essentially the Regina George of CMS's in that it's really popular as the statistics have proven, but relies heavily on the work of the open source community, so can you really trust her? Would you reference stats from Wikipedia in a PhD thesis? You probably wouldn't, so why develop your site on the same foundation with WordPress?

Due to the nature of having this large open source community, there is a serious saturation of themes and plugins, inevitably meaning some bad apples in the group that lack in quality. "At this point in time there are over 44,000+ WordPress plugins which are downloaded more than 1.2 billion times." With these kinds of numbers it's unrealistic to be able to police the creation and sale of said tools because of the size and scale of the community. What this means for users is that they really can't feel comfortable choosing the right tool for their site, and usually have to resort to purchasing a "premium" plugin which will end up costing them extra money. Decisions... decisions... decision fatigue.

In my own recent experience working on WordPress sites for clients, I came across several speed bumps that made my development experience unpleasant. This includes, but is not limited to: broken tools, intrusive workarounds to get small customizations to work, visual bugs, and web interface bugs. WordPress is highly customizable, but has a steep learning curve and doesn't play nice when you want to make customizations.

Ultimately I feel that WordPress would be cumbersome for those that want to launch a new business quickly and without any setbacks, but may be appropriate for those with more time on their hands and who really want to gain a better understanding of CMS's and coding in general.

What About The Competition?

SquareSpace, Shopify, Weebly, Wix, Drupal, Joomla. No, I'm not just making noises with my mouth, these are some alternative services and web frameworks to WordPress.

These alternative services are similar to WordPress in a few ways, namely offering out of the box solutions for generating quick websites with a front end template and a database. These services don't require any development experience and are also customizable through their web interfaces. Take SquareSpace for example, with the main difference lying in the fact that where WordPress is an open source community, SquareSpace is not, meaning that their in-house development team produces all of it's tools specifically for it's users. SquareSpace would be a direct competitor of the .com version of WordPress.

These services both new and old are gaining traction, especially amongst millennials that want cool looking sites with minimal time and assistance required in building. In my next post I'll be talking more in depth about SquareSpace and my thoughts and experience using it.

Is A WordPress Site Right For Me?

The .com version would be the better choice if you're looking for something quick and easy that you can start building right away. I think there are so many other great services nowadays that it can't hurt to try a different one if you're looking to build a more advanced, customized site.

Thanks for reading and be sure to look for my next post taking a closer look at the pros and cons of SquareSpace.

Tuesday, Aug 2nd, 2016

Lizzie Healy

Lizzie
Homepage, Sweet, Homepage

10 seconds. That's all the time you have to make a great first impression when a user visits your website. 10 seconds to let them know who you are, what you're about, how you can make their life better, and why they should keep clicking. It's a tall order for just a few seconds, but is a crucial element to the success of your website and your business. This time is a brief chance for you to connect emotionally with visitors and show them, through a combination of a few critical elements, what you can do for them (without overwhelming them).

Relevant Images

Using images or videos on the homepage of a website is the standard for web design, but as with anything else, the quality of these images is ultimately the most important. When choosing an image or video, make sure that it is high quality and up to date. It's 2016, so don't choose a large image of someone holding a landline phone to represent your company (unless you sell landline phones). Avoid cheesy stock photos. Visitors pick up on it immediately if the images don't feel authentic and genuine. They should instead highlight what you offer, and reflect your businesses branding. This image or video is a terrific opportunity for you to convey what you offer without overwhelming your user with text. Take advantage of it.

Headline

In 6-12 words, your headline should let the visitor know exactly what your website or business has to offer. The headline is probably the trickiest element of your home page, because it needs to clearly and concisely convey why your business is unique, and why visitors can benefit from being there. It's important to remember that this headline should be about your visitor, not about you. They want to know what you can do for them, not the other way around. This is an easy element to change and update. You don't have to be married to it, so don't hesitate to keep working to make it better and more compelling.

Subheadline

The subheadline, which appears just below your headline but above the fold on your homepage, should compel users to dig deeper. In 1-2 sentences, your subheadline should spark the interest of a reader, showing clear value, and showcasing what you do. They don't have to be there, so don't waste their time. Keep the copy for your subheadline lightweight and easy to read, while positioning yourself as an authority on the topic that they can trust. It's a fine line to walk, and will also require a few tweaks before you hit a home(page) run.

Call to Action
Along with the subheadline, your homepage should include a call to action. When a visitor first clicks on to your homepage, it should be immediately clear what action they should take next. Should they find out more? Should they sign up now? Make their journey through your website as simple as possible, providing an obvious route to the next step they should take. This call to action should be clear, leaving no question as to where it would lead. It should also be compelling. Again, they don't have to be there. Make it worth their while.

Contact Information

Drake said it best, "you know when that hotline bling, that can only mean one thing: more qualified business leads generated." Pretty sure that's how the song goes. In order to connect with these qualified business leads, you need to provide easily accessible and up to date contact information on your home page. If you have a brick and mortar business, make sure you not only provide the address, but include a map so that patrons can easily find your business. In addition to being able to easily find your business, providing contact information adds credibility. People want to work with real people, in a real office, who they can really speak to! Don't make it hard for them to find you.

Social Media
Your marketing team spent 2 hours' yesterday lining up a keyboard with a notepad and pencil for the perfect flatlay picture (or wait, was that me?). Don't let those hours of effort go to waste. Get social by promoting your social media pages on your homepage. Use icons, and make sure that your links are all working properly. Just like providing accurate contact information, including social media posts and links helps to build trust with potential customers. It's no longer a value added, its an essential.

Subscribe
Keep it short, keep it simple.

Your website's homepage is your first chance to capture a potential customer and show them how you can make their life better with your product or service. With every element, its important to remember that a little can go a long way. Don't overwhelm your visitors with an overload of information and pictures. Every item that you do choose to include, remember: Branding, Branding, Branding. You have worked hard to carefully craft a voice, don't miss the opportunity to show visitors who you are and what you represent.

Wednesday, Jul 20th, 2016

Lizzie Healy

Lizzie
Benefits To Building A MVP

Are you jumping in head first or biting off more than you can chew? At Devshop, we work with all levels of business, from startup to enterprise level, and everything in between. Sometimes we are tasked with building an application for an existing business, but often the application is the business. In these cases, where the platform is so heavily intertwined with the business itself, the importance of a successful, streamlined application with the cleanest functionality out of the gate becomes even more relevant.
When we are approached by businesses in the idea formulation phase of development, we find that many platforms stand to benefit from building a MVP up front. We often recommend the MVP, or minimum viable product, route because it helps in determining the practicality of an idea is at its core. Creating an initial MVP does not mean releasing an unfinished product. Your MVP should still accomplish your main goals, but save the bells and whistles for V2. Coming from a non-tech background, one of the first things I learned working at a development shop was that a website or application is never really done. It's constantly evolving, developing, and pivoting based on the needs of the user and the goals of the business. Focusing on the main functions of your application as a starting point comes with a long list of benefits.


  1. Getting To Market Sooner

    Competition is constantly present, so a business stands to benefit from any advantages possible. Being the first to market provides a leg up on the competition, gaining valuable recognition before similar apps are on the scene.

  2. Avoiding Overwhelming Users
    A major hurdle in acquiring or converting users lies in their ability to grasp the concept of an app. Beyond designing UX with the user in mind, building an initial product that is simple enough for a user to easily understand can aid in overcoming this barrier.

  3. Getting Real User Feedback Before Adding Features
    User feedback gets watered down when too many features are introduced, making it harder to draw conclusions about the core functionality of the application. Streamlining what components users are interacting with allows them to provide deeper insight into the overall concept, rather than being bogged down insignificant details.

  4. Avoids Wasted Time And Resources
    A client who approaches us with an extensive list of features for their initial product will often be met with a longer timeline and a higher estimate to build it. Whether you're a startup or an enterprise level client, no one benefits by wasting time and money. Creating an initial MVP accomplishes the ultimate goal while saving man hours and cutting down on costs.

  5. No Product Is Ever Finished
    We know you don't want to release an unfinished product to market, and neither do we. We would never recommend that. What we would advise is that no product is ever really complete, so if you are waiting until your application is finished you will never launch. Leaving room to grow once your application is in the hands of users ensures that you're are growing in the right direction.

  6. Lessens Chances For Bugs
    Have you ever opened an application that unexpectedly quit on you in the middle of an action? Frustrating. We want to avoid that. Throwing everything but the kitchen sink in means less time devoted to core functions and a greater likelihood of having bugs within the application.

  7. Makes Implementing Changes As Simply As Possible
    Venmo didn't start out seeking to be Venmo, and Uber offered a fraction of the benefits it does today. Features can always be added on, but changes can occur more quickly when you begin with a less complex product. You may be one easy pivot away from the next best thing, but going too far down a specific path with your initial product can deter any simple adjustments.

Building an MVP allows for easier analysis and adjustments, which will ultimately result in the best possible product. A MVP is a way to test a platforms business model with the least amount of complex features. While this is not a one size fits all method, considering creating an MVP initially has clear benefits that could ultimately mean the success of an application in the long run.

Tuesday, Jun 28th, 2016

Lizzie Healy

Lizzie
Shark Infested App Store: A Step by Step Guide to Analyzing your Mobile App Competition

My idea is killer. Why do I need this?

With over 2 million apps available in the Apple App Store, every week is Shark Week for mobile apps. A high level of competition in the app industry makes testing the waters before you jump in a requirement. Your idea for an app is probably great, amazing in fact! So amazing, that it may already exist. Or a variation of it exists. The only way to determine if your app is a unique, innovative idea in a saturated industry is to evaluate the available apps out there today. Completing a competitive analysis in the idea validation stage of building your mobile app accomplishes two things: it identifies a gap or need in the marketplace, and it serves as a chance to learn from those 2 billion other apps. Competitors are a resource, offering you a chance to learn from their wins and losses, and provide you with information to build an even more successful product. Determining your competitor's strengths and weaknesses can help your app compete on a larger scale. In this blog post, we will walk through the steps of completing a competitive analysis to help you determine whether your app idea will sink or swim in the mobile app market.

Step 1: Analyze Your Market

What category does your idea for a mobile app fall into? Begin your competitive analysis with some broad research about your app's category to determine if there is a need there. Is this an idea that people will find invaluable and not be able to live without? A key factor to look at during this step is the growth of the category or industry you are seeking to enter. A growing industry presents opportunities, but often comes with a higher level of competition. For example, say I was interested in creating a dating app. More and more people are using dating apps, but with this comes a greater number of apps popping up to provide this service. While not all apps will fall into a specific industry (some of the most successful mobile apps are creating their own industry), knowing whether it is a red ocean or a blue ocean will aid in determining your strategies for success. A red ocean means that your app is competing in an existing market space, with a high level of completion (bloody red market, appropriate given that it's Shark Week this week). A blue ocean means you are creating a product in an uncontested market space. You are not competing for users, but you also have to prove value in your concept. Knowing the market space that you will be competing in will shape the rest of our competitive analysis.

Step 2: Identify Your Competitors

Step 2 consists of identifying your direct competitors so that you can review what they are doing well and what they are doing poorly. This means taking a closer look at the current landscape of the marketplace to find anyone who provides a similar service or product to what you are creating. This will be an ever evolving list, as you should constantly be updating it with new competitors and monitoring features they are offering. Like most other things in life, identifying key competitors begins with a quick Google search. For our example of a dating app, I would search terms like "dating apps" and "most popular dating apps 2016." Make sure that results returned from your search are current so that you have an accurate representation of the current players in your field. My searches result in a quick return of articles summarizing and reviewing the best apps in this category. Success! Browsing through the search results, I can quickly narrow down the ones that world serve as a direct competitor to my app idea. You should also search the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for your search terms to find what apps appear. When you find a similar app, it may also benefit to look at the related field in the app store to find additional competitors.

Step 3: Track Competitors

Now that you know who your competitors are, you can begin to evaluate them. Because I am a data nerd of Liz Lemon levels, I prefer to organize and track this information using using an Excel Spreadsheet. You may find that the best way to track your information is through a simple Word Doc. The important thing is to create a comprehensive overview of the features and elements that make your competitors apps successful (or not successful). Below is just one example of how to organize this data, listing all competitors across the top and our elements for analysis on the left.

Step 4: Analyze Competitors

Once you've determined which mobile apps you will be competing with and how best to track this information, you can begin to break down the elements of your competitor's apps that will be relevant for your analysis. These elements may vary from case to case, but specific data such as downloads, ranking, and average session length should always be included in reviewing a mobile app. These factors give us a greater level of insight into how people are using the current mobile apps so that we can draw conclusions.


For our hypothetical dating app, I would begin by taking a broad overview of each competitor's concept. This includes how it works, what makes it unique, the costs associated with it, and the locations that it is offered in. This step helps formulate the concept of my mobile app, and ensure that there is something offered by my app that differentiates it from what is already out there.


Second, I review the technical elements of the app including which operating systems each app works on and what integrations it uses. While I may not adjust my version one based on these factors, it will help me shape the future of the app and determine estimated growth.


Digging deeper into the data behind each app, I can also look at the number of downloads, the average length of each session, the number of daily users and the number of installs. This will provide information on how people are using apps currently and what trends we can expect out of potential users. This information may be harder to track down, and take a little more of a search effort to discover.


When you are testing your competitor's apps, take special note of the design elements that you like and don't like. Taking note of this will be useful when designing your own app, because you will already know what colors, text, and designs you want to use.


What are users saying about these apps? You have an incredible resource within the app store with user reviews. Reading reviews that users have left about your competitor's app gives you insight into what users want and don't want within an app. Pay special attention to trends, and don't get too bogged down in the details of this. You can easily get lost reading thousands of contradicting reviews, but seeking out obvious trends that appear in multiple reviews will be the best indication of what they have done successfully.


How did your competitor market their app? This is another category that may take some digging to unearth information on, but can prove invaluable when determining your marketing strategy. The best way to go about finding this information is to simply Google and read articles about their efforts.


Lastly, your competitive analysis should track what features your competitors offer. If every app that you look at has a message feature, you probably will require a message feature within your own app. Make note of what each competitor chose to include and what they did not choose to include.

Step 5: Draw Conclusions and Pivot

At this point, you have a wealth of knowledge about the other apps in your category. You know what features they include, what they look like, what makes them unique, and what users like and dislike about them. Now it's time to look at how you stack up. Does your app have growth potential? Does your app have profit potential? Based on your analysis, you can determine whether to pivot or move forward with the app the way it is. You can learn from your analysis, and continue to update it as you build your app and after launch. After completing your competitive analysis, you are now better equipped to navigate the shark infested waters of the app store. Good luck!