Social discovery has enjoyed an astronomic rise in recent years. As social networks have become evermore complicated and populated with virtual farms and the like, users are looking for experiences that can add value to their lives, rather than noise. These tools allow you to make connections with like-minded people around you based on what you know, rather than who.
It should come as no surprise, then, that app developers are currently falling over themselves to take a slice of the social discovery pie. A number of big players have grown to dominate the market but there is always going to be room for great apps and good ideas. However, too many developers seem to forget the fundamentals in the rush to market and fall at the first hurdle.
Identify a gap in the market. Unsuccessful apps slavishly copy others so your app will either need to be different or better. All too often, what seems like a fantastic idea at the pub on a Friday night doesnt stand up in the harsh light of day.
Before progressing to coding, you will need to objectively assess your app idea. What makes it a must have download? Why would somebody use it? Will it appeal to your target market? What is your USP? On that point, its important to know your market, identify your target audience and do the research. It will save a lot of trouble in the long-term.
In the first stages of app development its best to keep it as streamlined as possible. Simplicity here is key. Things that are nice to have dont necessarily make for an app that is nice to use. The best apps tend to do only one thing and do it well. For the sake of your budget and timeline, the fewer moving parts and components in the app, the fewer bugs there will be. The bells and whistles can be added post launch.
Your app will need to be tested at all stages of the development process. The key focus here will need to be usability. If the purpose and use of your app isnt immediately obvious, you will fail to maintain the interest of your customers.
4. Get to market
Waiting too long to get to market can be disastrous, especially for a start-up. Its tempting to spend months upon months testing and re-testing your app, but youll only really know how great it is or what the bugs are once it has made it to market. The fact is that no app is going to be perfect when it first makes it to market but its important that the essentials are there.
The fact is that testing in isolation can only get you so far. Feedback from customers will help you develop your app, and ultimately help you decide if the concept is worthwhile or not, as in some cases.
Dont just develop for Apple. This is especially important for social apps as they, not surprisingly, need the broadest user-base possible to be successful. Although Apple has traditionally dominated the app space, Android is rapidly gaining market share. Those apps that fail to recognise this will likely be destined for failure and cutting out a large section of their potential user-base.
Promotion is of course key to the success or failure of an app. With around 700,000 apps currently on the App Store, its vital to get noticed. Paid-for advertising, however, is probably not the answer especially for start-ups. Its vital that developers can plug into, and harness the power of, the social ecosystem. Making sure that its social media friendly will pay dividends.