SwebApps E-Book


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A brief a e-book we put together to share best practices in developing a simple iPhone app for your business or organization. Intended for potential users of the SwebApps system as well as anyone considering an iPhone app.

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SwebApps E-Book

  1. 1. When Sweb Development launched SwebApps in August 2009, it was among thefirst platforms allowing users to build their own iPhone apps. Since then,SwebApps has been used to create over 200 apps, now available in the Apple AppStore and the Google Play Store.With our redesigned system, now complete with Android development and avariety of exciting new features, we wanted to offer a bit of advice to potentialclients and the world at large. We don’t consider ourselves experts, but we have abit of wisdom worth sharing.We hope you find this useful. Please let us know if we can help you!-The SwebApps and Sweb Development Team 1
  2. 2. This e-book is intended to help you:✴ Determine whether a mobile app makes sense for your business or organization✴ Consider your goals before building and launching an app✴ Avoid common pitfalls in app design✴ Create content that is useful and engaging to your audience✴ Maximize your app’s potential to accomplish your goals and add value for your users 2
  3. 3. Know Your Goals Before You BuildWe’re going to break all of the rules and reveal our biggest weakness rightaway. Are you ready? Here it is:A mobile app might not be the right solution for your business or organization.We love our SwebApps build-your-own-app platform, and our developers canbuild practically anything as a custom app, but the truth of the matter is that notevery business, nonprofit, or public entity will benefit from a mobile app. We’reconfident that our products provide benefit to our clients and value to theirusers, but we don’t want to waste your time--and we really don’t want to wasteyour money--on something that is unlikely to accomplish your goals.As you consider your goals, it’s worth thinking about why mobile apps aresuccessful, and when an app is unlikely to meet your expectations. 3
  4. 4. Know Your Goals Before You BuildSo, why would you want a mobile app? A few of the benefits:✴ Convenience: promote up-to-date content; push content from existing sources like blogs, podcast feeds, a YouTube channel, etc--all through a centralized channel; provide immediate access to useful information.✴ Access: connect to customers wherever they are; allow users to engage with your brand at the touch of a button.✴ Brand Loyalty: remain relevant and visible to your audience; empower loyal customers or supporters with a tool to spread the word about your business or organization; improve your brand image by adding value to your existing relationships with customers or supporters.✴ The “Wow” Factor: distribute a tool that will get people talking; outperform expectations to win over new brand evangelists--those who will show your app to their friends; position your brand at the cutting edge of mobile technology and innovation. 4
  5. 5. Know Your Goals Before You BuildOn the other hand, some goals might be unrealistic for a mobile app:✴ Connecting with your entire audience: while the population of smart phone users is large and growing, it still represents a distinct segment of the population at large. Some businesses or organizations will find that their audience is overwhelmingly mobile, while others may find that very few of their customers use a smart phone. Do the math, ask your audience, and determine whether you will reach your targeted demographics by offering a mobile app.✴ New business: Mobile apps can be tremendously helpful for repeat customers, but users are less likely to search for a new restaurant, service provider, or church through the App or Google Play Store. Introducing a mobile app can generate buzz that leads to new customers or supporters-- even providing the final nudge placing you above your competition--but measure your expectations for new clients or leads carefully. 5
  6. 6. Know Your Goals Before You BuildA few questions to ask yourself before building an app:1. What content do we currently produce (could be as simple as a menu that changes weekly or offers daily specials, a monthly coupon, podcasts, videos, photos, blog posts, etc.)? How often is that content updated? Do we have plans to create new content specifically for our app?2. Will my audience use a mobile app? What information will they want or need to access on the go?3. What are my primary goals for creating a mobile app? If the app is wildly successful, what will that look like for my business or organization?4. In what ways will my app be better (more useful, more rich in content, easier to navigate, etc.) than my website as viewed from a mobile browser? 6
  7. 7. Sharing Lessons LearnedOnce you determine what goals you hope to accomplish with your mobileapp, you’re almost ready to start building. But first, let us offer a few pointersbased on experience. On the following pages, you’ll find tips in thesecategories: ✴ Content is King (p. 8) ✴ ...but Design Matters (p. 9) ✴ Outperform Your Website & Add Value (p. 12) ✴ Offer Convenience (p. 14) ✴ Be Indispensable & Strive for Repeat Users (p. 16) ✴ See for Yourself (p. 18) 7
  8. 8. Content is KingYour app will only be as useful, desirable, and engaging as the content yousupply. Great content can lead to a great app, but even the flashiest design andmost flawless user interface won’t salvage boring content.A mobile app is a tool to reach your audience, however you define it. Whetheryour audience is existing customers, potential clients, fans and supporters,donors, or even employees, your mobile app will only be successful if thoseindividuals find your content worthwhile. This may sound daunting, but amobile app may represent a wonderful opportunity: instead of focusing on thenuts and bolts of the application, focus instead on your content and leave thedelivery to us.We’ll offer a few tips for creating compelling mobile content, but the challengeremains: use an app to engage your audience in practical and innovative ways. 8
  9. 9. ...but Design MattersContent should be your primary concern, but it would be a shame to let baddesign interfere with your ability to deliver great content.A few things to consider when designing your app:✴ The small size of a mobile phone screen (don’t try to overdo it!)✴ The various types of content (text, buttons, photos, etc.) that will need to be displayed clearly against the background you select✴ The user interface (make sure users can see the buttons)✴ The “wow” factor (don’t be too cautious)What follows are a few examples of SwebApps that show the flexibility of ourdesign tools; tools that can be used for good...or evil. 9
  10. 10. ...but Design MattersChoose a background that won’t distract from your content...or make yourbuttons illegible. Users will immediately notice the difference betweenfunctional and non-functional designs. Can’t you tell? App name blurred to protect the 10 innocent
  11. 11. ...but Design MattersAs long as your app features a functional design, creativity can go a long way.On the left, an app that uses custom-uploaded images for buttons and a custombackground. The app on the right is functional, but dull. App name blurred to protect the 11 innocent
  12. 12. Outperform Your Website& Add ValueA native mobile app in place of or in addition to a website optimized for mobilebrowsers allows you to offer content in more user-friendly ways.Instead of a page of thumbnail images that takes a long time to load and forcesa user to zoom in and out to find what they’re looking for, you can displayimages in a nice gallery.Instead of directing users to search for directions to your business address, skipa step on behalf of your users and provide customized driving directions fromtheir location.Feature videos, audio files, podcasts, and photos in a native player tailored foriPhone and Android instead of offering media that is unwieldy or, worse,unplayable on a mobile device.Mobile apps offer a significant usability advantage over mobile websites; whatfollows are examples of existing SwebApps adding value to the mobileexperience. 12
  13. 13. Outperform Your Website& Add Value Using the Google Maps interface and the Using SwebApps’ custom video gallery, users Using the iPhone’s built-in Quicktime player, iPhone’s built-in GPS, app users can discover can select and view videos by clicking the play users can listen to podcasts within the app. In driving directions to your location with the button. In this example, mLearning displays this example, Stonegate church uploads click of a button. In this case, Camp educational videos about their cause. weekly sermons as podcasts. Tecumseh YMCA provides directions to the location of its summer camp. 13
  14. 14. Offer ConvenienceThink about the settings where your customers, supporters, readers, and fansare likely to use their mobile device instead of a desktop or laptop: riding thebus or train, sitting in a coffee shop or restaurant, waiting in a doctor’s office orat the soccer field, or just walking down the street.These users turn to their smart phones when they need a mobile device, so besure to provide content relevant to a mobile audience. Whether it’s hard-to-remember information like meeting times, a repair request to be submitted atthe site of chipping paint, or new and engaging content for your users to enjoyas they wait in line for lunch, use your app to push content that your usersappreciate accessing at the touch of a button.Chances are, no matter the business or organization, you have content thatusers will find handy to have on their phone. What follows are a few examplesof existing SwebApps offering convenient mobile content. 14
  15. 15. Offer Convenience Using OpenTable, restaurants like Barbaresco Using a simple webpage displayed within its Using a WordPress blog displayed as a URL allow app users to easily make and confirm app, Camp Tecumseh YMCA offers a readily- within its app, Nonprofit Tech 2.0 highlights reservations online accessible list of summer camp dates and content its app users can immediately use: availability. app recommendations. 15
  16. 16. Be Indispensable& Strive for Repeat UsersIt’s easy to convince someone to download a free app. Mobile advertisingcompany AdMob published research in January 2010 showing that iPhoneusers, on average, download 8.8 new apps per month; iPod touch usersaveraged 12.1 new apps per month.The question is, will your users download your app (it’s free, remember), use itonce, and never return again? Even worse, will they download it and thendelete it? Or will you provide the right mix of useful content and regularupdates that will draw users back to your app again and again?A few ways to create an indispensable app: offer access to special deals orcoupons that are either available exclusively to mobile users or are announcedvia the app on a predictable and frequent basis; offer valuable content that willinspire users to connect with your business or organization; and update yourinformation frequently to ensure you are providing accurate data to your users. 16
  17. 17. Be Indispensable& Strive for Repeat Users By providing detailed event information By promoting his own Twitter feed, French By promoting a YouTube channel featuring (updated automatically by RSS feed), Georgia interactive media maven Mikiane provides a pastoral messages and footage of church Southern University gives users a compelling steady stream of content for his users-- activities, Trinity Baptist Church offers a reason to use its app daily. concentrated within his app. variety of fresh content to keep members of its congregation returning to its app. 17
  18. 18. See For YourselfOne of the biggest advantages of the web--including, in our case, mobile apps--is the possibility of tracking user activity. Through SwebApps, we offer aproprietary tool called App Tracker that allows our clients to track downloadsand (more importantly) button clicks within their applications. If after 6 monthsyou notice that very few people are using the “Map” button for drivingdirections, you might decide to replace that button with a function in greaterdemand. 18
  19. 19. Happy Building!Need Help?https://twitter.com/#!/Swebhttp://www.facebook.com/swebappsinfo@swebapps.com(210) 617-7260 19