How does one create a useful mobile app? First step: Consider not doing a mobile app at all. As the team behind the creation of the Google Primer app, that’s not easy for us to say, because we love technology. We love creating new products, we love innovation, and we love anything that’s cutting edge.
Obviously, we’re not alone in this love affair. Right now, the Google Play store alone has over 1.6 million mobile apps, with many more launching each day. And brands everywhere keep creating new apps—many of which use new, shiny technology like geolocation, virtual reality, near field communication, and augmented reality.
However, sometimes the newest and shiniest things are also the most blinding. We like them because they get a lot of buzz, impress award show judges, and make our brand (and us as marketers) seem trendy and relevant. But there’s an inherent danger to all this.
In a crowded market, apps can attract new customers, gain loyalty, and deliver value with great UX design.
While we might be creating a “cool” app, we’re not necessarily offering a valuable solution for users. So even if the product is slick and well-designed and gets a lot of downloads at first, it could be old news two weeks later. Users will have abandoned it. The press will have moved on. Our business goals won’t be met nor have we helped our target audience in any significant way.
This siren song of technology is something our team struggled with when we first started working on our app—an educational tool that helps startups, small business owners, and advertisers learn marketing with five-minute interactive lessons.
Of course, we didn’t initially set out to create a mobile app. We merely wanted to solve a problem for our users: They wanted to learn new skills and keep up with the latest marketing trends, but it was difficult for them to find the time.
During our early brainstorms, we struggled with our desire to be innovative groundbreakers and thought leaders. This sent us in several directions. For example: “What if we created a virtual teaching assistant to accompany our lessons? Could we have online ‘office hours’ where teachers would be available 24/7?” All of our ideas took advantage of technological advancements but ultimately felt like innovation for innovation’s sake, without any meaning or value.
97% of U.S. adults over age 25 don’t spend any time learning new skills during their day.
We realized that we had put the proverbial cart before the horse. We had to stop thinking about what we wanted to produce in the end, and start thinking about what our target audience needed right now.