When it comes to apps, at Rhubarb Fool we like to think we know our stuff – we do build them on a fairly regularly basis, after all.
A recent comment from a certain fashion blogger got me thinking about the role they play in our day to day lives – and how that insight can help agencies and the brands they work with to tailor them to accommodate the consumer as well as meet campaign goals.
The fashion blogger in question, one Tala Samman of myfashdiary.com (who we’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with), admits that she uses apps ‘for everything from organisation, beauty, fitness, social media and the list goes on…’ And when you think about it, this is the reality for most of us.
We are increasingly living in a mobile world, and if you access Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn on a smartphone or tablet, you’re probably going to do so using an app. Maps, email, radio…all of these are day-to-day essentials for which the app is increasingly the go-to.
Where do branded apps fit into all of this? Unless they have excellent functionality or some other USP, no one will bother downloading them. As Tala herself observes, she’s ‘not the biggest fan of downloading brand apps because they always seem really commercial’. The key to a successful app, then, is meeting your customers’ needs as well as promoting your brand.
Looking at apps in a similar way to printed content can help with this – its features should be as original and as well thought out as any magazine. Indeed, some of the most popular apps are those that are companions to magazines and newspapers. Think Vogue, GQ, The Guardian et al…Well researched and elegantly designed content will always sing regardless of the platform it is staged on.
If your brand or company already has roster of printed publications, it is well worth obtaining an app to accompany them. Just as an online presence is mandatory these days, so is having mobile-optimised content at your customers’ fingertips. Look at it like this: with an app, your customers or potential customers can carry you around with them in their pocket. What could be better than that?
If you’ve got quality content and design then you’re already halfway there. There are just a few things to bear in mind:
1. Apps are more interactive than your average magazine or even your average website. Make sure you provide plenty of stimulation in the form of videos, links, images, and full integration with social media. Ideally, nearly every page should link to another feature or page of the app. I.e. a great page on the best restaurants to visit may link to some relevant recipes or other things to do in the area.
2. Functionality is key. No one will bother persisting with an app that’s unwieldy or confusing. This means that the app should be laid out in a logical fashion, fully optimised for mobile devices, and with all the necessary features (like infinite scrolling, for example, if it’s appropriate)
3. It has to do something. Make sure that the purpose of the app is clear in every single part of it. Even if it is just an app version of a magazine, it has to have something to set it apart in what is a very crowded marketplace. An e-commerce element enriches many apps, as does the ability to log wish lists and preferences. Apps that are useful are the most popular.