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Beyond ‘killer apps’: how to make your next app go viral [Part 1]

on August 1, 2016
Beyond ‘killer apps’: how to make your next app go viral [Part 1]

I am sure all of us can agree on one simple truth…

 

Creating the next viral app sensation is the ultimate dream of the majority of app developers.

 

And just like with anything else that has gone viral in the past, the formula for creating a viral marketing app strategy boils down to only two important areas.

 

What are they?

 

1, Offer the best solution for your market’s problem

2, Design a viral loop

 

This probably doesn’t sound like a huge surprise to you. Because it isn’t. You already know that bad content or indeed bad apps will not get shared. Additionally, it’s also obvious that not optimized sharing will lead to fewer shares.

 

Despite the fact that app developers grasp this concept, they often fail to execute the backend processes which lead to producing an app with viral potential.

 

Both, the app and its potential to be shared need to be optimized and work in synchrony.

 

In this article we will cover how to accomplish the processes that will allow you to build a great app, while the second part will outline how to effectively entice your users to start sharing.

 

Just in case you need some motivation, applying the strategies outlined here will bring you a step closer to designing your viral app. This would mean that:

 

– Any monetization model applied and its associated revenues will be amplified

– Exponential growth of brand awareness

– Gaining the status of expert and authority

– Expansion of your list of users which can be monetized further

– Higher visibility of other brand assets, such as of your website and other apps

 

Where to begin? Offer tremendous value

First things first. It needs to be acknowledged that whether any given app is great or not is always going to be scrutinized and judged through subjective opinions of users.

 

There are some people who will never find a given app great simply because they don’t have the problems and pain points the app is designed to address. For instance, a person with no relationship to exercise or running is unlikely to find the new running app craze too useful, despite its great features.

 

Therefore a great application is always bound to be a solution that provides a massive amount of value to a certain group of people, and the value which people receive is the end-product that came by via different processes that allowed it.

 

So the question is, how can you get to that point?

 

Delivering value to your audience

The first step in the process of delivering value to your users is addressing who your audience is, and in what way will your idea serve them. It’s important to carefully construct a customer avatar to determine what is and what isn’t important to them, what buying habits they have and most importantly, what problems they face.

designing a great app

Ideally, if you operate in the space where you plan to build the app, you can simply ask your current followers. If this is not the case, there is a ubiquitous amount of forums (for example quora.com), discussion boards, quiz lead generation tools (e.g. qzzr.com) and paid options (e.g. Facebook advertising, focus groups) that allow you to dig deep into your audience’s problems.

 

Once you clearly identify the audience and their pain points, it’s important to consider if any existing apps already cater for this problem. Secondly, aim to gauge the usefulness of these apps in solving those problems.

 

A great way to uncover opportunities for innovation is by considering the flaws of existing solutions. For instance, if we were to develop a new app for Instagram collage, a quick search through the Android app store reviews would reveal where improvements can be made.

 

Furthermore, sizing up other apps and their features will provide a holistic understanding of the competitive landscape. A clearer picture of where your solution fits will provide you with further room for innovation.

 

designing a great app

A powerful way to innovate and build on existing solutions is through designing a rating system
for evaluating the effectiveness of different app features. This rating scale can be plotted on the Y-axis from 0 to 8, where 8 represents the best execution of a particular feature, or the best attempt at addressing users’ pain points.

 

Secondly, the X-axis will represent different features. Evaluating and plotting on the graph how each competitor performs in regard to different features will uncover where improvements can be made.

 

Continuing from the example above, we might try to analyze apps in the Instagram photo editing market.

 

A simple analysis would reveal what the current solutions lack, and what the users actively seek.

 

User flows

What is the purpose of your app? How will your users achieve their objectives? How will you optimize your business objectives (conversions) and the UX?

 

User flows are essential for outlining just that. You need a clear step-by-step blueprint of how the objectives of your customers and will be achieved through the app.

designing great apps

 

There is a variety of great flow charting tools that allow you to outline user flows. Consider for example:

 

 

Clearly depicting your user’s actions and movement will enable great UX. To do this, you need to start building user flows with your users in mind. As you do this try to consider the following:

 

– what types of users will your app have and for which user is the user flow?

– how will they enter your app?

– did you cover all possible elements in a given situation?

– are your flows aligned with your business objectives?

 

Build a prototype

Prototyping plays a very important role in creating applications that can go viral. Making your app tangible can uncover early problems, unravel further requirements and indicate which ideas should just stay ideas.

 

There isn’t a standard way of prototyping. It will depend on what is suitable for your. You can for instance consider specialized tools such as:

 

Or you can even build a prototype in HTML.

 

By doing so, you will be able to visualize and evaluate your apps features before coming up with the perfect design and final code.

 

This is the chance to ensure that your app’s functionalities are serving your market to the highest standard.

 

User interface (UI)

If you spent sufficient amount of thinking power and time designing your user flows and wireframes, UI should follow suit and serve its main purpose: clarity and simplicity.

 

Users hate complexity and having to make too many decisions. In addition to providing users with a clear path and intuitive interaction with your app, make sure to address the overall quality and ‘feel’ of your design with great visuals.

 

Wrapping it up

We touched on the most important aspects of designing a great app your users will love and share.

 

The take home message is that you can’t expect anything of suboptimal quality to go viral (at least for the good reasons).

 

Digging deep to understand what your users truly want and then serving their needs accordingly will bring you on the right path to create an app with viral potential.

 

In part II. we’ll reveal a number marketing, design and pricing strategies that will act as the catalyst for sharing among your users. Secondly, we’ll reveal the math behind virality that will instantly help you to gauge your app’s viral potential.

 

Is there anything I missed out? We’d love to hear from you! Tell us what you think in the comments below.