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Jason Pawlak

Husband, Dad, Navy Officer, Coder, and Tinkerer. I have many interests and am always looking to learn something new. This site is a launching point to the many areas of the Internet that represent me.

Five Traits of the Perfect App

I spend a lot of time thinking about the perfect app. I haven’t come up with the answer to the perfect app, but I have decided on some key criteria that the perfect app must possess.

The perfect app must…

  1. Be social.  I go back and forth on whether the social aspect of the app is mandatory for the user or not.  Either way has it’s benefits.  When dial up started to disappear, the thing on everyone’s minds was constant connectivity.  People didn’t want to wait for beeps and blurps to hear they have mail, they wanted to open up the computer and be ready to go.  That happened and the world is better because of it.  Now the transition is towards smart phones where the constant connectivity extends to instant constant connectivity.  Instead of opening up the computer and being ready to go, now these wonderful things called notifications let you know when things are happening.  And with this instant constant connectivity, people want to stay up to date with what their virtual and real world friends are doing.  Even if the social aspect of the app is not person to person, but instead analytics of all users of the app, people want to be a part of something larger than themselves.

  2. Be fast.  This one should be pretty obvious.  The app needs to be fast, speedy, and be done loading before you open it is even open.  Simple?  eh…  The best example I have of an awesome app gone askew because of load times is Smule’s Magic Piano.  I love this app.  I would recommend it to anyone.  But the load times are terrible.  Just to load the app, you sit staring at their splash screen for a while.  Then to load the song list you have to sit and wait for not only the song names to show up, but also your account balance to show up.  In order to play a single song, there are three separate wait times.  There has been a number of times I wanted to play a quick song but decided against it because I knew I’d have to wait for the app to load.

  3. Be quick.  This piggy backs on being fast.  When I say be quick I am talking about the whole user experience from loading the app to closing the app.  Load screens on being fast are only a part of being quick.  If I take my seat in a class, a meeting, the bathroom … wherever … I should be able to do something with the perfect app.  If I have 30 seconds or 30 minutes, the app should be available for a complete and full experience in that amount of time.  Now this is rather dependent on the content of the app.  There are some apps where this might be difficult.  A first persion shooter with long levels would be difficult to have a player get in and start destroying aliens for only 30 seconds.  But this is where the developer needs to get creative and offer short levels or some mini game that would be fun being played multiple times through and can be completed very quickly.  If it is a board game, the user should be able to take a turn quickly.  If it is a shopping app, the user should be able to look up and item and save it for later viewing.  A user that is familiar with the app should be able to start loading, use the content, and close the app within 30 seconds, one minute tops.

  4. Be fresh. The content in the perfect app must be constantly updated.  This is easy for social networking apps where the entire purpose is to see new content that is updated by your friends.  But for games or shopping apps, there must be new content to keep the experienced user interested.

  5. Be addictive.  Easier said than done, right?  The previous four notes tie into being addictive quite a bit.  The whole addictive factor means that the user has a positive experience with the mechanics of the app and they enjoy the content.  The perfect app must be addictive.  When a person gets on the bus for a trip downtown, they are going to pull out their phone and the first app they think of must be yours, the perfect app.

I really don’t think there is just one perfect app, either.  I look at the iOS apps that I enjoy and sure they have their similar traits that I discussed above, but their content is completely different.  The keys is just finding the right balance between everything.  Be available when your user wants it, but don’t be too intrusive.  Have content that your user finds interesting but don’t flood them with too many new things at once.

I’ll leave you with a list of apps that I consider extremely well done, some of which I have used for a very long time, some of which are new to my arsenal.  Thanks for reading.

  • YouTube

  • Pandora

  • NPR News

  • The Weather Channel

  • Evernote

  • What’s On?

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • RedLaser

  • Angry Birds

  • Pocket Tanks

  • Flick Golf!

  • DoodleJump

  • Tiny Wings

  • CliffDiving

  • Stylish Spring

  • Super Stickman Golf

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