We’ve already talked about what to do to make a great mobile app. Why not change the story this time and talk what to avoid doing. Here are 10 ideas (in no particular order):
1. Don’t ask too many questions
If your users have to fill a registration form, try to keep it to the bare minimum. Just look at Tumblr and follow their example. Keep in mind that every question the user has to answer is a new chance for them to give up.
2. Don’t rely on Apple’s feature of your app on App Store as a promotion strategy
Getting featured as the App of the Week or Staff Favorite can boost sales drastically and make your app a success, but no matter how great app you have made, there’s no way to be sure that it will get even into the New and Noteworthy section. So, make sure to create a good promotional strategy that will save your app from failure even if the great folks from Apple never get how awesome it is.
3. Don’t offer too much in the free version
Everyone wants to ride the freemium waves nowadays. Yet, offering free version and trying to monetize from upgrades or in-app purchases can be tricky if users don’t feel that they are missing anything if they just keep using the free version. So instead of getting their ‘cash love’ you’ll just ‘stay friends’ (and get some great reviews, though)
4. Don’t offer too little in the free version
The only thing worse than offering too much in the free version is to offer too little so users don’t have a chance to get the feel of why the app is great (and why they should upgrade). Feeling tricked into installing something which turns out not to be free (or doesn’t offer any real value in the free version) many will leave a bad review on the store. With this you are not only using them as potential buyers, but also others who will go and check out the free version first, even if they are willing to pay full price for the app. If you can’t offer much in the free version it’s better to go with paid version only than crippling the app so bad just to be able to offer it for free.
5. Don’t get too creative with navigation
In other words, iPhone users don’t like to have to think much how to navigate the content in your app. User experience is the key. Sometimes, you can make the app stand out if you are different than everyone else, but if an average Joe is not sure at every moment where he is in the app and how to go where he wants it’s not so likely that you’ll make a fortune from the app. I’ll probably like it, though.
6. Don’t use templates or cheap graphics
On the other hand, don’t look like everyone else. And please don’t use lousy graphics. Apps in the store have set up great expectations for pixel-perfect design. Take a look at apps at Smashapp for some great inspiration and don’t make our editor review any more ill-designed apps. He can’t stand them anymore. If he doesn’t like how it looks he’s very likely not to look at features at all and many iPhone users will do the same. Ever wondered why screenshots are so prominent while you have to click to expand the text about the app?
7. Don’t forget the sound (especially if you are making a game)
Music and sound effects can change the feel of the game completely. If you don’t believe this, just watch this video. The guy simply changed the background sound and suddenly everything became different. A great game turned into a bore in no time.
8. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver
Read that iTunes description of your app once again. It sounds great, but is the app really great? You can get people to install your app with great copy (and using a couple of marketing tricks), but if your app is not on par with what you said about it, the number of stars reviewers will give it will drop significantly. And that’s something you wouldn’t want, right?
9. Don’t rush the submission
Creating a new mobile app is exciting. In some cases (and especially when you are creating your first apps) you just can’t wait to share it with the world. Yet, the sad truth is that the world may give it only one chance. If people don’t like it the first time they see it (be it bugs, not polished navigation or whatever else) they most likely won’t bother ever again. And trying to get bloggers to take another look at the updated/fixed version if they didn’t like it in the first try is almost impossible. Plan, test, fix and when you think it’s ready to meet the world let it go.
10. Don’t believe all you hear about what to do or not to do in order to make your app successful
Every app is a different story and just because something worked or didn’t work in one case doesn’t mean that it will or won’t work in your case. There are just too many factors. But do feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
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