Supercharge Your App Users Through The Fear Of Losing

Can we develop an app that exploits a person’s fear of losing something? The emotion associated with losses is enormous. In fact, it is twice as great as the emotion of gaining something of the same value.

Earlier, we delved into Regime of Competence, and how non-gaming apps, particularly productivity apps, could be teamed with social media to make users more productive. Peer pressure from other users – the longing to win, the pleasure of victory and the frustration of losing – fuels addiction to the app, which makes the user perpetually evolve and progress.

However, there are many us out there who are immune to peer pressure. We don’t give a hoot about contesting with other users, thus the simultaneous feelings of pleasure and frustration of winning and losing – which is central to app addiction – don’t exist. To us, productivity apps implementing the Regime of Competence principle are mediocre at best.

normal-task Figure 1: A normal task management app that allows us to easily procrastinate or totally disregard performing the task we have set for ourselves.

So, what about the idea depositing the fear of losing something – loss aversion – into an app to empower us indifferent-to-peer-pressure individuals?

Let’s see how we can conceivably include “loss aversion” into an anti-procrastination task management app. Figure 1 shows the all-to-common to-do management app. If you are anything like me, it is appallingly easy for me to tap the Snooze button, delay going to the gym and following a Rapid Tone diet, but instead spend the hour in front of the idiot box. A typical procrastination attitude that negatively affects millions of us and nullifies whatever health goals we have set for ourselves we could accomplish with the health of exercise and supplements as Kratom products. Also staying healthy means to stay out of drugs because it can cause drug addiction. If you know someone who is suffering from substance abuse check this article about https://www.discoverynj.org/americans-drinking-more-alcohol-more-often/.

loss-aversion-task Figure 2: An anti-procrastination task management app that implements “loss aversion”.

Now, we design some loss aversion into our task management app (Figure 2). Make the user deposit a sum, say $50, into the app account. Take away a certain amount for every task not fulfilled by the deadline. The amount deducted will be donated to a charity of the user’s choice, from people that need food to medical attention from general medicine to a Medical Dermatology with the best specialist in the field such as the Coberly Plastic Surgery & Medspa center and many others.

Of course, the user can choose to cheat and check off tasks she didn’t quite complete. After all, there isn’t anyone else keeping tabs on her tasks but herself. But would she really stoop so low? Besides procrastinating, would she also fail on her promise and callously discard an orphan in Cambodia who is depending on her $5 to buy bread and see a doctor?The hypothesis in designing this app is that the dread of losing money dwarfs the user’s tendency to procrastinate.

If she is serious about kicking the habit, she would not cheat.

At the end of the day, she can choose to withdraw whatever money is left in her account. Or if loss aversion works well for her and saves her from her dallying ways, she might, giddy with happiness and a new sense of hope, donate her deposit to charity.

A reformed procrastinator. An altruist. A nifty app.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loss_aversion
Featured art: wired.com

The Secret to Making Your Apps Addictive: Stimulating Frustration & Pleasure Simultaneously!

What makes you stay up all night playing a game, attempting the same level over and over, until, finally at 3am, you succeed in butchering all the pigs in one try? You know the feeling when you yelp in delight, rousing half the neighborhood from their sleep, and sending dogs barking in frenzy. And then you take a well-deserved breather before having a go at the next level.

Regime of Competence. Although many excellent game developers may not be acquainted with this term, they have always known its secret that offers a heroin-like addiction to games employing it.

temple-runThe Regime of Competence principle is commonly used in games to make them addictive. Source: play.google.com

Games developed with this mind-altering principle hover just outside the player’s competency level, seeking at every point to be difficult, but attainable. After many tries of course. What exactly is the objective of regime of competence? Its goal is to fire up simultaneous feelings of frustration and pleasure. Frustration in failing to achieve one’s targets in a game’s specific complexity. Pleasure in finally pulling it off after many hours and attempts. One learns, adapts and masters the difficulty level. Then one watches their mastery being wiped off with the introduction of a more difficult level. These cycles of frustration and pleasure are what drive the player to engage with the game.

Why restrain the regime of competence to only gaming apps? The very principle that gives gamers sore thumbs can be applied to other app categories – especially educational and productivity apps that are designed to improve a person’s aptitude – to make them addictive. And these apps are guaranteed to sell like hotcakes simply because they are not a chore to consume anymore. By golly, they have become games!

An educational app with gameplay exploits Artificial Intelligence methods coupled with well-designed content and quizzes to determine the student’s aptitude, and then challenge him with a slightly more difficult level. A productivity app can leverage on social media to turn it into an enjoyable, addictive game. When a user thinks she has done her best for the day, up pops an alert saying another user has outdone her. A gut-wrenching howl echoes through the room. She won’t sleep soundly until she outdoes her contender the very next day.

Gratification. Frustration. A combination leading to addiction. That’s the name of the game.

Featured image source: www.leebrimelow.com

How To Use The Path Of Least Resistance To Maximize Your App’s Profits

When confronted with making a tough decision, our befuddled brains turn us into passive decision makers. And if there happens to be a default option for us to take, we will almost always pick the default. The path of least resistance.

donor-consent Figure 1. Organ donation consent percentage shoots up when the default option is to be a donor. Source: Do Defaults Save Lives? by Eric J. Johnson and Daniel Goldstein

Do Defaults Save Lives? is an eye-opening study of the psychology of defaults by Eric Johnson and Daniel Goldstein. Figure 1 shows Denmark, Netherlands, UK and Germany being countries with very low donor consent percentage. Before you reason that people there just don’t give a damn and start booing them, consider the way their donor consent form was designed: theirs had an opt-in (check the box if you want to be a donor). Whereas countries with a startlingly high donor consent percentage used a form with an opt-out (check the box if you do not want to be a donor).

A slight change in wording that resulted in a seismic shift in a country’s choice. When individuals are faced with a difficult call, they will habitually choose the default, if a default is presented.

Savvy app developers can benefit from the user’s inclination to select the path of least resistance. If you want to persuade us to do something of your choice in the app, put your choice there by default.

preselected-option Figure 2. In-app purchase with a preselected option. Adapted from http://www.androidpolice.com

The in-app purchase screen in Figure 2 eliminates the tough decision of selecting a package to buy. Players clearly see that the Farmer’s Best Value is $40.00 and this best value is even preselected for them. Do you think the majority would select the default package? I would think so. The path of least resistance leading to higher app profits.

no-preselected Figure 3. In-app purchase without a preselected choice. Source: the-gadgeteer.com

Compare that with an in-app purchase without a default choice as shown in Figure 3. First, too many choices confuse the players. Worse, without any preselected option for the perplexed user to take, many will end up taking no action at all.

What about email opt-in, you ask. Will it work if you pre-check the opt-in box? These days, we busy folks find unsolicited emails a brutal annoyance. Our time is limited and it is no longer hard to determine if we want to receive your emails. So, sorry, the path of least resistance won’t work here.

How To Make Your App Super Addictive Using Variable Ratio Reinforcement

Variable Ratio Reinforcement (VRR) is what makes gamblers and gamers behave like a neurotically obsessed person. Take a slot machine. It is programmed to pay out money every 20 spins, for instance, on average. It might happen on the 5th pull, the 26th pull and 29th pull. But the average is every 20 pulls. Can you now see why a player might be very unwilling to abandon her slot? She knows she will receive a payout, but she doesn’t know when. Not knowing when the payout will happen is what keeps this bleary-eyed grandma trying, and hoping it would materialize on the next spin, and that’s also why people decide to use betting apps on their phone, learning from the Best Betting Strategies from different sites online.

slots (2)

Slot machines and Variable Ratio Reinforcement (VRR) make gambling addicts out of men and women. Source: gambling.addictionblog.org

It’s a stroke of genius actually, to put this behavior-changing scheme into the heart of every slot machine, enslaving gamblers and compelling them to incessantly feed the slots.

Enthralling game apps are not unlike slots. They ingeniously slot in (no pun intended) VRR to make the game sticky, compelling gamers to stay plastered to them. You might just win that crucial weapon or level up on the next swipe or tap. And you have no idea why you are not able to pry your own fingers off the phone, so is better if you play games in the computer with a specialized keyboard as the one in this g105 review and high refresh monitors, since is already proved that high refresh rate monitors are better for different kind of games.

The evils of VRR. Armageddon-like conclusion in the case of slot machines. Many end up losing their home and family to the casinos (99% of the payouts are mediocre at best, compared to the sum fed into them). In the case of video games, many users suffer from game addiction to the point of neglecting their school, work, family and friends.

The good of VRR. It is very useful in educational and productivity apps, where when applied correctly, makes them very addictive. Consider a grammar workout app where a badge is presented for every 10 correct answers, on average. The accumulation of these badges goes toward the user’s global ranking which is made public to other users of the same app. The app makes wonderful use of VRR to play with the kid’s ego in a positive way – his need to be recognized – so that he is hooked to the grammar app for hours on end.

The child’s objective is to accumulate more badges so he can rank high up on the grammar hall of fame. In the process, he is mastering grammar. But to him, it doesn’t feel like learning at all. He is much too fixated on gaming. A very powerful approach to learning.

Combine Variable Ratio Reinforcement with Regime of Competence and you would have created an app that packs a wallop.

Pay-What-You-Want In-App Purchase Results in Higher Earnings

The Android app, Easy Contact Sync, is a contact backup tool that allows you to back up your phone contacts to its SD card and a range of cloud-based storage. This app has a Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) in-app purchase as shown in the following series of images (courtesy of Paradise Android):

pwyw1

Figure 1: In-app purchase dialog box pops up when the user selects more than three contacts to copy.

pwyw2 Figure 2: Pay the price you think is worthy of the app. Or, pay what you can afford. Whatever price you choose to pay, you will get the same product.

pwyw3 Figure 3: Confirm the price you want to pay.

 pwyw4

 Figure 4: Pay, or add your credit/debit card details.

In-App Purchase PWYW can yield a higher number of purchases because the buyer is free to pay what he feels the app is worth. If he finds the app superb, he may be pleased to fork out a higher price for the in-app product. If your app isn’t very delightful, but still useful, he may still go ahead with the in-app purchase, but at a reduced price.

With in-app PWYW, the buyer is now permitted to pay what she can afford. This eliminates alienating the potential buyer who loves your app but feels she cannot afford the fixed-price in-app purchase. With PWYW in-app purchases, the developer will still receive money from this type of buyers, though the amount is diminished. Click here.

The buyer may think your app is great, or the buyer may feel your app is passable. She may be able to easily afford the app, or she may not have much money. To get cash immediately for the app, look for loanload.co.uk on the internet and fill up their application. But with PWYW in-app products, suddenly all these different types of buyers are able to pay the amount they feel is right. Because of this, the number of purchases for a PWYW in-app product is proven to be much higher compared to that of a fixed-price in-app product.

In-App Purchase PWYW can result in higher profits if you donate part of the proceeds to charity. In one PWYW research, they found consumers willing to pay up to five times more if a portion of the revenues was given to charity. In another PWYW study, the average price paid for an item was initially $0.92. Then, when consumers were told that half the proceeds would go to aid organizations, the average price paid for the item jumped to a staggering $6.50.

Suggest a reasonable price. To encourage your app users to pay more than the minimum price set for your in-app product, you can suggest a “reasonable” price. For example, if you have the pricing options like in Figure 2 above, you can preselect the $3 option if you feel that’s the reasonable price for your in-app product.

Play with your buyer’s ego. Tell the buyer that on average, users paid X dollars for your in-app product. This average price ties in with the preselected “reasonable” price where both these prices should not be far apart. You want the buyer to feel the peer pressure of not wanting to be a scrooge and, on their purchase, match the average price or better it, for the sake of massaging their own ego.

Give PWYW a try in your in-app purchase and tell me how well it works for you.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pay_what_you_want
http://sandiego.bbb.org/article/is-there-a-pay-what-you-want-payoff-41247

App Marketing 101: Find That Raving Fan

A good idea is like a virus. It likes to spread and it’s terribly contagious. Put a good idea into an app and watch it proliferate with minimal marketing effort. On the contrary, if you don’t see your just-launched app being downloaded much, it means the idea behind your app has not propagated. This is true no matter how much mobile app marketing effort and dollars you have put in. The problem is with the idea behind the app. The market didn’t move the idea. The idea didn’t generate enough conversations to move the market. The couple of users who downloaded your app were not impressed enough to generate those conversations.

 decoding-app-marketing-resultsInfographic: What does your app marketing results tell you?

Sucky App Idea, No Downloads. Like the infographic above, we can follow the rules of app marketing, from pre-launch to post-launch, but in the end, will your app get the downloads it deserves? If it does, then you have got something going. If it doesn’t, your app probably suffers from the “sucky app idea” syndrome.

Whether or not your app is successful boils down to the idea of the app. It has to be useful or it has to be wildly entertaining.

cloudon CloudOn productivity app. Source: Google Play

Useful apps improve our lives by increasing our freedom and knowledge, saving time and improving productivity. One such app is CloudOn. CloudOn allows you to access and edit Microsoft Office’s docs, be it Word, Excel or Powerpoint, from your cloud-based drive – Dropbox, Google Drive or, SkyDrive. And once you are done editing them, you can email them as links or attachments. How useful! Now, you don’t have to lug around your notebook installed with MS Office everywhere you go. A phone with Cloudon plus internet access is all you need to access and share Office docs.

Apps that are entertaining (read: games) makes you play with them until your phone battery runs dead. They have great graphics and storylines. But most importantly, addictive games are designed so that each level lingers just outside the player’s abilities – tricky but achievable – giving the player a simultaneous feeling of pleasure and frustration and that’s why players that play certain games go online to find services as guides and boosting, which you can take a look at different sites online. Once they conquer one level, the next level undoes the mastery, forcing the player to learn and adapt.

angry-birds-space Angry Birds Space. Source: Google Play

Angry Birds is one such entertaining app. Awesome graphics of the flightless birds and limbless pigs with their unique environment, be it Rio, Star Wars or Space. Remarkably simple storyline about the birds taking revenge of them pigs for stealing their eggs. At each level, the physics involved in catapulting the birds into the air in attempts to kill the pigs becomes harder. Players rejoice in being able to destroy the pigs in one shot. Pleasure. They moan in disappointment for not being able to do so. Frustration. They try again and again. They learn, adapt and succeed. Next level.

Unless you are a clairvoyant, you should get some validation for your app idea before going full steam ahead with its development. Make sure there are people out there who would find it useful or crazily entertaining. A technique of app validation – micro-testing – is very effective to check if users like your app idea. There are many write-ups on micro-testing and I’ve included the link to one in the reference section. Briefly, micro-testing an app includes the following steps:

  1. Build a mobile web landing page showcasing your yet-to-be-built app – app title, description, icon, screenshots, download button – the whole nine yards
  2. Drive traffic to the landing page via advertisements
  3. Track your results – the number of people clicking on your landing page’s download button

Oh, and don’t forget to find that raving fan.

References:
http://www.incomediary.com/how-to-validate-your-million-app-idea-in-3-simple-steps

 

What Is An App: A Brief History

“I can’t live without my phone.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, we can’t live without our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Candy Crush Saga.  Ah, mobile apps. They are everywhere and they permeate every single facet of our lives. From shaking us up at dawn, to revealing where the best cup of Joe is. From guiding us to a new watering hole to suggesting a perfect partner. From singing us lullabies to teaching us the steps to a yoga shoulderstand, which is really important to maintain health, other ways is to take supplements such as PhysioTru which you can find at many sites online. There is an app for everything. Well, almost everything. They were created for smartphones and tablets. Yet, recent tech developments have allowed mobile apps to run on car navigational systems, TVs, refrigerators and everyday wearable accessories such as watches and eyeglasses.
temple-run

Temple Run mobile game app for Android and iPhones by Imangi Studios. Source: play.google.com

Today, there are over a million smartphone apps available in two of the world’s biggest app stores – Apple’s iTunes App Store (iPhone and iPad apps) and Google Play (Android apps). Wow, a million apps. In general, the app ecosystem has come a long way since the release of the first mobile phone forty years ago. But for the whooping million smartphone apps out there, their history is much shorter: it’s only been less than 5 years since the first major app store, the iTunes App Store, opened in 2008.

downloads-graph Number of apps in Apple App Store and Google Play as at Q1 2012. Source: businessinsider.com

From Bricks To Clicks To Swipes. Mobile apps appeared with the commercialization of cellphones. When Motorola showed off its first-in-the-world mobile phone, theDynaTAC 8000x “brick” phone, the company’s software guys created software – an app – to store contact numbers. Of course, this dinosaur-age contacts app doesn’t come close to the look and feel of today’s contacts apps. Nonetheless, it was still an app and it pushed the then mobile technology envelope. Afterwards, mobile processors became more powerful. Batteries reduced in size and lasted longer. Computer memory grew cheaper. And apps evolved from merely storing names and numbers into more complex life forms. Smartphones break when people don’t take good care of them, if you need to repair your smartphone check this guide to choosing the right iPhone repair company.

motorola-brick World’s first mobile phone – the Motorola “brick” phone. Source: http://midlifecrisishawaii.com

nokia-feature-phone-appA Nokia feature phone messaging app. Source: press.nokia.com

Larger pixilated monochrome screens paved the way for more complex apps. “Time wasters” appeared in the form of the 1970’s popular Snake game on Nokia feature phones. Calculators, unit and currency convertors, and personal ringtone makers followed suit. Despite the runaway success of feature phones, their apps were proprietary and confined to the particular phone brand. Phone manufacturers religiously safeguarded their hardware and operating systems, opening their doors only to app developers who were on their payroll. Open source feature phone platforms were unheard of.

snake-game The classic Nokia feature phone Snake game. Source: appview.mobilesecurity.com

Enter the age of smartphones. Users all over the world demanded a hybrid between Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and phones. So, mobile engineers incorporated PDA functionality into prevailing mobile phones, or added on communications capability into PDAs. Thus the birth of an array of smartphones, from the Nokia 9300 series of business phones to the O2 PDA phones. These manufacturers also figured out that more apps on their mobile platform equal more smartphone sales. So, they opened up and released their platform’s Application Programming Interface (API) to interested app developers in the hopes of attracting them to third-party create apps. Also, in case you want to identify performance bottlenecks in mobile application, visit this website apicasystems.com or call +1 (310) 776-7540

nokia-9300 Early smartphones – the Nokia 9300 and its primitive web browsing app. Source: cyberindian.net

With smartphones, developers were able to build apps that functioned better than their pixilated Snake game and ringtone maker counterparts. Reminder apps and calendars became the norm in phones alongside web browsing and early navigational apps. Game apps grew effervescent and multi-colored with the introduction of colored screens. With the launch of GPRS technology, live news and sports apps arrived at the scene and were quickly embraced by businessmen and sports fans respectively. So people can follow their favorite teams and activities like running with Vessi waterproof sneakers.

The definitive moment for mobile apps came with Apple iPhone’s launch. Apple has always upheld an image of exclusivity and minimalism in their desktops, laptops and iPods. The iPhone, built on the iOS platform, was no different. It was a rare beauty coupled with technologies that made it a quantum leap over its competitors.  And the platform supported third-party apps! Overnight, anyone with programming proficiency could produce their very own iPhone apps and make money trading them on the App Store. This fuelled the explosive growth of apps that made them ubiquitous until today.

iphone The inaugural iPhone. Source: mybroadband.co.za

In the meantime, Google wasn’t about to be left behind. The behemoth sprang on the app bandwagon and developed the open-source Android platform. Developers now could pick between making apps for the iPhone or Android devices; many chose to develop for both platforms. Android gained fame through apps such as RAM boosters and CPU overclocking that let users squeeze a little more juice out their phones. A mid-range smartphone could now behave like a high-powered device. The Android platform is wildly popular among smartphone users who like its openness and highly customizable features. On the other hand, Apple is a walled garden and its phones cannot be customized by its consumers. But it is holding its own by maintaining stringent quality requirements, rewarding developers with higher app revenues and promoting certain apps exclusively through the iTunes App Store.

android Android, the open source mobile platform and formidable challenger to iPhone’s dominance. Source: sparkwiz.com

Progress in device hardware positively influenced the evolution of apps. App consumers used to be confined to operating their apps via numerical keypads or Qwerty keyboards. Not anymore, no siree. The development of touchscreen technology and the introduction of hardware such as GPS, accelerometers and gyroscopes allowed imaginative app developers to create killer apps. It used to be that PC and consoles were the go-to for video games, something like robux a free online PC game (how to get free robux) but now mobile games are taking over the competition with ‘free’ games! With taps, swipes, pinches and zooms on the touchscreen, we can now track our fitness routines via health apps, play physics-based games such as Angry Birds and upload photos with automatic location stamps to Facebook. These killer apps made such an impact on our culture and lifestyle that the world is changed forever, and there are many people that prefer and love computer games, as Overwatch and are always trying to improve on it, and reading OVERWATCH NEWS to be informed about the game.

touchscreen iPhone touchscreen technology. Source: computer.howstuffworks.com

 The Flight Of Flightless Birds. Have you ever been so angry, so mad at somebody, that you wanted to fling yourself, kamikaze style, toward them using a giant slingshot? Perhaps such intemperate anger would not emerge in most of us, but we are all too familiar with the bunch of adorable birds with an anger management issue. Meet the Angry Birds. From the cool-looking leader, Red Bird, to the cute Pink Bird and her bubbles of annihilation, we have played with, laughed at, and even eaten, Angry Birds. That’s right! Angry Birds have become so trendy that some food companies have mass-produced Angry Birds fish balls.

angry-birds-fishballs Angry Birds fish balls. Source: http://lil-by-little.blogspot.com

Angry Birds was conceptualized on the drawing boards of Finnish game developer, Rovio Entertainment. The Angry Birds story is remarkably simple. Mean, hungry but gorgeous green pigs decide to plunder some eggs from their neighboring flightless feathered friends. These birds resolved to unleash a vendetta against the pigs by hurling themselves toward the pigs and obliterating them using a giant catapults. Adopting the same physics codes used in the free game, Box 2D, by Erik Catto, Rovio released Angry Birds version 1 in 2009.

As simple as it sounds, Angry Birds became a huge success. In 2012, Rovio announced that Angry Birds had been downloaded a billion times! The whimsical theme music of Angry Birds became one of the top ringtones in the market. Angry Birds screensavers were plastered on almost every computer and smartphones. Savvy entrepreneurs printed Angry Birds on clothes in hopes of cashing in on the game’s madness. And they were not disappointed as kids screamed at their parents to buy them matching Angry Birds shirts and shorts. Video clips, musical covers with Holoplot wave field synthesis and short animations were made out of the crazy, delightful terrestrial birds. Angry Birds was so successful that it was named the most successful app ever.  There are even plans for an animated flick in 2016.

So, what “slingshot” technique did Rovio Entertainment use to reach the skies with this simple app? The developers at Rovio made sure that Angry Birds was continuously updated with newer levels that were distributer free or could be purchased in-app. They released versions of the app that were adapted from successful movies such as Rio and Star Wars. Rovio even pooled resources with NASA engineers when they created Angry Birds Space just to make user experience of microgravity as authentic as possible. These factors plus the commitment Rovio had for maintaining top notch content were what kept Angry Birds soaring through the app cosmos.

The Overnight Pro Shutterbug. Social media networks have always been an activity-filled virtual world where opinions and experiences are shared among like-minded individuals. There, you can make instant friends just as quickly as you can drop them from your network. In the last couple of years, social media has also evolved to include photo sharing. Users would upload raw, unedited photos to their social media accounts to be shared with friends. Only those who took the trouble to download the images into their desktop and used Photoshop could edit and enhance their photos – by adjusting their colors, brightness and contrast, and adding effects – before sharing them on Facebook and Twitter.

Along came the Istagram photo sharing app. What was once a project called Burbn – a play on the slang Burb and urban – by developers Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram became a huge hit with many amateur photographers with smartphones. The app was initially intended to be a “check-in” app for photography lovers where they were able to snap photographs, upload and share them, all via their phones.

Then, filters were added to Instagram to allow these amateurs to transform their raw piccies. Almost instantly (no pun intended), a whole new culture was born. Teens and young adults alike were posting trivial but “professional-looking” photos of their everyday activities. Pictures of everything and anything, from a favorite cup of coffee, to pet tricks, to the most mundane object, began flooding social network sites. Some Instagram users find it almost impossible to stop taking photos with Instagram because Instagram has turned these amateurs into overnight shutterbugs.

instagram The Instagram effect – creating rock stars out of ordinary folks. Source: designyoutrust.com

Instagram was originally developed exclusively for the iPhone. It then elected to include Android in 2012, which proved to be a rewarding move. Today, half of those using Instagram come from Android devices. Instagram achieved nearly four million downloads by 2012 and was valued at $500 million. The app and its entire team was then acquired by Facebook for $1 billion and the Instagram mobile app was integrated to function alongside the Facebook app. Users were now able to share their filtered images on Facebook instantly.

You Will Never Go Hungry Again. If you think apps are only for your smartphones and tablets you now hold, think again. Samsung will roll out refrigerators with a built-in Android tablet to track the food you have inside, and to order more stuff when they run low. And of course, the built-in tablet allows you to scribble notes. So gone are the days of sticking Post-it’s onto the fridge. Users of the smart fridge can also call up their music collection from their Samsung smartphones or laptops wirelessly. Soon, mothers will be able update their Facebook status, tweet their recipes and play a round Cut the Rope on their intelligent fridge while the beef stew is simmering. Meal preparations in the kitchen will never be the same again.

samsung-fridgeThe Samsung T9000 smart refrigerator runs on Android. Source: gadgets.ndtv.com

There is Google with their Google Glass. These eyeglasses with built-in communications and data retrieval capacity let the wearer obtain real-time information of their environment while communicating with people. All without the need of a phone.  Take a picture, record what you see and share them live with friends. Display a virtual map and driving directions right in front of your very eyes. Send messages and reply emails via voice commands. Ask anything and obtain instant answers. See your schedule and be reminded of your next rendezvous. The world will never be the same after you have seen it with Google Glass.

google-glass

Google Glass – information in the blink of an eye. Source: mobileshop.eu

And what about the highly speculated Apple iWatch? Tech pundits have speculated this future wrist-hugging device to be a full-fledge iOS smartphone coupled with activity and health monitoring services. The iWatch will accept voice commands via the platform’s intelligent personal assistant, Siri, which has, ironically, become many a lonely iPhone owner’s best friend. One must also wonder if the iWatch is able to tell the time too.

iwatch Will the rumored iWatch look like this? Source: technobuffalo.com

Mobile apps are becoming wearable for sure. But to what extend?  Once confined to the phones carried around in your jeans’ back pocket, they are now embedded in eyewear and watches. Mobile apps are not just permeating every facet of our lives. They are, slowly but surely, seeping into our pores, consuming our bodies and capturing our minds.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/App_Store_%28iOS%29
http://9to5mac.com/2012/05/09/angry-birds-passes-one-billion-downloads-video/
http://blog.instagram.com/post/47035276788/instagram-for-android-one-year-later-one-year
http://www.technobuffalo.com/2013/03/04/apple-iwatch-concepts/

 

Top 9 Strategies to a UI/UX-Driven Mobile Web

It sure sucks when your favorite site is not optimized for mobile devices. Imagine having to scroll horizontally because the entire site doesn’t fit into your phone’s width. When it does, the content is so tiny you have to use your fingers to zoom in. And when you zoom in, you are forced to scroll horizontally again to view other parts of the site. Then you have to pinch to zoom out because you have no idea where, on the website, you are. And the vicious cycle of zooming, pinching and scrolling continues until you become disgruntled. The User Interface (UI) is dreadful because you are viewing a desktop site from a phone. The User Experience (UX) is nonexistent because you are more preoccupied with pinching, zooming and scrolling when you are supposed to be enjoying the site’s content, of course there are sites that are optimized for mobile views, like services sites that people look for on the internet all the time, like adult services sites as Zoom Escorts London.

Mobile Web UI/UX Design 101:

Slash Away Content and Images. Only show the most essential subject matter from your desktop web. Reduce the amount of images or eliminate them entirely if they are not necessary. Wired.com’s mobile web only features one top story – the story title and one image – above the fold. The rest of the mobile website consist of a common header incorporating a small Wired logo, a search icon that slides down to reveal a search textbox, and a menu icon that also slithers down to the bottom to expose the site’s various navigation links. In contrast, Wired’s desktop site has a much bigger logo, four to five top stories above the fold, ads and navigation links that are constantly visible.

wired

Wired.com’s mobile vs. desktop web

Enlarge Them Buttons. And make sure those tappable areas on today’s touch-based smartphones are big enough coz some of us have really fat fingers and thumbs. The rule of thumb (no pun intended) is to design the buttons and tappable areas at 44 x 44 pixels at the very least. This UI enhancement will make it cozy enough for the thumb and the rest of your fingers to tap on without missing its target. Check out University of Alabama’s mobile homepage. It contains big and well-labeled links to various segments of the university’s content.

uni-alabama  The University of Alabama’s (ua.edu) mobile vs. desktop web

A Conspicuous Search Box on the Homepage. You need to reduce the amount of content published on your mobile web. You will also need to reduce the number of links that, on the desktop website, help your users navigate the site. To compensate for the reduced navigation links and retain the user experience (UX), a search box is crucial in a mobile website. And this search box should sit in a prominent location on the mobile web’s homepage. Agoda.com’s mobile site allows its users to search for hotels based on destinations – be it country (America), city (Georgetown), airport (Heathrow), area (Sukhumvit Bangkok) or landmark (Great Wall). That’s it. Whereas, Agoda’s desktop site, in addition to having a search, has a full set of navigational links to help users easily browse and sort through various hotels via destination, price, star rating, facilities and etc.

agoda Agoda.com’s mobile vs. desktop web

White Space, White Space, White Space. White space is NOT wasted space. It is a significant design consideration on both mobile and desktop websites because it helps an element in the site stand out from the next. It makes it easy for the user to differentiate a piece of content from another. And if used correctly, white space creates elegance in the site. CNN.com is very good in using white space to separate its content-rich desktop and mobile websites. Content, links and advertisements are clearly and nicely separated and easily distinguishable.

cnn

CNN.com’s mobile vs. desktop web

Color Contrast for Crystal Clear Visuals. Foreground and background colors must have good contrast with each other so users can view your content without needing to squint their eyes. Of course both colors must complement each other. Use your favorite online color contrast checker to see if your colors provide enough contrast when seen by a person with color deficiencies. I love the color contrast shown in ProductiveDreams.com’s mobile web. The white text on dark brown background offers a very clear visual of the content. Their social media buttons are bordered by the same dark brown hue before being plugged into an orange background, while the white search textbox on the same orange background provides a solid-enough color contrast.

productive-dreams

ProductiveDreams.com’s mobile vs. desktop web

High-Speed Page Loading. Let’s face it; users want their mobile sites to load fast. The majority is on a limited data plan, so your mobile web app had better load fast and not drain their limited and precious bytes. The culprit behind slow and large page loads is images. If diminishes the UX. If you can’t get rid of all the images, at least limit it to the homepage and headers only. A great example is VirginAustralia’s mobile web. The homepage contains only a series of eye-catching images in a slider, as well as their logo in the header. The rest of the pages are just relevant text-only content that are beautifully laid out and does not contain a single image.

virgin-aust

 VirginAustralia.com’s mobile vs. desktop web

Minimize Text Entries If You Can. Again, the problem with fat fingers. Typos that lead to frustrations, and the eventual fear of using the mobile website. Minimizing text entries doesn’t only apply to mobile sites. Desktop web apps also benefit from a good UI design that minimizes the amount of typing. Look at VirginAustralia.com’s mobile and desktop booking sites that use dropdowns, checkboxes and number spinners – a no brainer but you still see a lot of designers overlooking this design criterion.

virgin-aust-book VirginAustralia.com’s mobile web booking vs. that of the desktop web

Minimizing text entries does not apply to every site. If you are designing a salesforce app, no matter what you do, somebody’s got to key in a new customer profile and that’s really a pain in the neck to perform with a smartphone. These kinds of text-entry-intensive apps will do a lot better on tablets or phablets with a bigger screen.

Device Orientation Matters. Design your mobile app for portrait mode. Otherwise, users will have a hard time holding on to the phone. You wouldn’t want them to drop the phone into the toilet bowl while trying to surf your landscape-oriented site, would you? But of course, no web designer worth their salt is senseless enough to design a portrait-based mobile web, unless it’s a game.

Test on Different Platforms and Screen Sizes. Test your mobile web design on major mobile platforms, brands and screen sizes. Test your mobile website on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry 10. For iOS, test your design on the iPhone and iPad. For Android, get at least two different brands of Android smartphones, one Android phablet and one Android tablet. And for each phone, phablet and tablet, test the design on different browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Opera – in addition to testing on the native browser that comes with the phone platform.  You will be surprised to find your mobile web not showing well or breaking on some browsers simply because each browser brand has a different level of HTML5 support as of today.

Sources for this article:
http://techtwitt.com/10-guidelines-for-user-friendly-mobile-website-design/2239

 

How to Color Your In-App Purchase Button for Your Target Users

An effective Call-to-Action (CTA) button relies on four crucial criteria – Placement, Shape, Message and Color. Assuming we have great button placement, the perfect button shape and a hard-to-resist CTA message embedded in our button. How should we color the button? In this article, we consider an app’s CTA button – the in-app purchase button – and how we can customize its color to charm your target users, be it mainly men, mainly women, both genders, or kids.

Continue reading “How to Color Your In-App Purchase Button for Your Target Users”

5 Reasons Why Your App Needs A Sexy Icon

Should we judge a book by its cover? Of course not, but we app users are fond of doing just that. Apps with stunning icons secure a second or third glance from us. They gain clicks and are downloaded. Call us shallow, but we equate a great-looking app icon with an equally wonderful app. That’s why app developers should give each of their apps a professional-looking icon.
Continue reading “5 Reasons Why Your App Needs A Sexy Icon”