Shoutem – Mobile App Creator – Make App http://blog.shoutem.com Making apps should be easy Thu, 29 Sep 2016 12:10:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Best React Native apps to date [Infographic] http://blog.shoutem.com/best-react-native-apps/ http://blog.shoutem.com/best-react-native-apps/#respond Wed, 28 Sep 2016 11:10:13 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10503 With its rise in popularity, it was only a matter of time before apps built with React Native emerged in app stores. React Native is used on a wide scale, from Fortune 500 companies to hot startups, on both

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With its rise in popularity, it was only a matter of time before apps built with React Native emerged in app stores. React Native is used on a wide scale, from Fortune 500 companies to hot startups, on both iOS and Android platforms. Here’s the list of the best React Native apps to date.

In the first part of React Native blog post series we covered the history of React Native, so be sure to check it if you still haven’t.

fb-ads-manager

Ads Manager app is the first full React Native cross-platform app. Creating and managing Facebook campaigns can be a horror story for your marketing team, as it sometimes requires a lot of time, nerves, and patience working with the desktop version of Ads Manager, and results in a temporary “mental breakdown.” On the other hand, Facebook Ads Manager app is a completely different experience.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the app is lightning fast, regardless of the actions you want to perform; from checking the status of a current campaign to creating a new one, all it takes is a second or two at most to navigate to the next step or access the data. The same goes for more complicated actions, like account switching: the completely different set of data is loaded instantly.

From a design standpoint, the interface is clean with intuitive UX and simple navigation. The animations and transitions are flawless; they do not feel unnatural or buggy at any point. The overall experience is magnificent, and if your marketing team isn’t using the app, we strongly advise them to start.

discovery-vr

If you never experienced the power of VR, Discovery VR will fill that gap perfectly. The app brings heart-pounding adventures in a way that you’ve never experienced before, either via VR or 360 videos. Complete UI in the app has been written in React Native, which allows the developers to embed gyroscope and player using the native APIs, demonstrating the true power of React Native.

discord

Discord is another brilliant example of the power of React Native and the type of performance the app can achieve, while sharing 98% of the code in iOS and web app. The app’s performances are incredible; switching between teams and loading channels with a long history of conversations is done in a blink of an eye. Switching from direct calls to voice channels and vice versa is as smooth as it should be.

cbs

If you have always dreamt of being an NFL coach, CBS Sport Franchise Football is the perfect app for you. The app brilliantly simulates the real life experience of NFL coaches: you need to demonstrate your coaching skills throughout the season, manage the player rosters, create new playbooks for your team, analyze your team performances, assign bonuses, and much more.

We loved the onboarding process, and the app guides you through Season 1 to familiarize you with the game and teach you everything you can, and must, do as a coach. But it doesn’t stop there; once you unlock the new options, the app highlights them to minimize your chances of missing them.

gyroscope

Gyroscope allows you to see the complete story of your life; it’s the health app on steroids. Not only can you track steps, your workout, or your heart rate, but with the dozens of integrations you can also track activities like productivity on the computer, or use sleep tracker and automatic Ai to make sure you get enough sleep.

All the data is displayed in two lovely, well-designed views: Simple or Cards mode. All tracked data is aggregated in daily/weekly/monthly reports, and you can easily deep-dive into it and decide on which things you want to focus next.

myntra

Myntra is a perfect example of how a shopping app should look and feel in order to make shopping from your smartphone as easy as possible. Once the app is opened, you just need to pick your interest and the app will populate the Home tab with similar categories or products. It’s a nice way to keep users engaged if they want to discover something new.

We loved the incredible speed of collection loading, the smooth interface, and intuitive UX. For example, if your bag is empty, the app will display a button “Go to wish list,” and if your wish list is also empty, a “Start shopping” button will be displayed – a nice way to lead users towards engagement.

refinery29

Refinery29 provides a unique way to consume the latest news and top stories. The app will serve just 8 short, fun-to-read cards on a daily basis. We loved the whole concept of the app: it requires minimal engagement on the user side; you can stay updated with the latest news within 2 or 20 minutes; and it’s designed in a completely different way than any other news app.

sneat

Sneat takes restaurant apps to the next level for all foodies. Not only does the app provide a unique and simple one-click booking system for restaurants, but its navigation, maps, and payment form are elegantly designed. We hope the app will either extend its restaurant list from Paris-only to other locations, or that similar apps will emerge.

townske

Townske aims to be your travel inspiration city guide on your next trip. The app connects you with locals to get a list of their favorite places and creates a curated list of places to explore and experience as locals do. It’s not mandatory for users to have an account, which is great, as it allows you to quickly find the next location you want to visit.

Imagine that you have low Wi-Fi connectivity, or that your battery is running low – in these cases, it’s a neat feature to have. We loved the design transitions and animations from a list view to a specific guide, as well as the “Save to a list” feature.

aiga

AIGA Design Conference 2015 app is a brilliant example of a conference app; not only does it aggregate a detailed schedule of all events, it also offers an expert local guide to New Orleans. We are amazed by the app’s design: including slick animations (sticky section titles), a minimalist map with expandable items, and nice view transitions. The combination of great design and speed results in a perfect conference app.

Infographic of the best React Native apps to date.

Think we missed some brilliant React Native apps? Let us know and add some of your favorite React Native apps in the comments.

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A brief history of React Native http://blog.shoutem.com/brief-history-react-native/ http://blog.shoutem.com/brief-history-react-native/#comments Mon, 26 Sep 2016 17:06:53 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10480 The story of React Native is quite fascinating: what started as Facebook’s internal hackathon project, in the summer of 2013, has since become one of the most popular frameworks. The first public preview was in January of 2015

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The story of React Native is quite fascinating: what started as Facebook’s internal hackathon project, in the summer of 2013, has since become one of the most popular frameworks. The first public preview was in January of 2015 at React.js Con. In March of 2015, Facebook announced at F8 that React Native is open and available on GitHub

The story behind React Native

After a little over a year, React Native’s growth and adoption rate doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The statistics on Github repository are impressive: 991 contributors committed 7,903 times in 45 branches with 123 releases, and it’s 4th most starred repository on GitHub. Plus, it’s constantly updated; React Native is following a two-week train release, where a Release Candidate branch is created every two weeks.

Graph displaying number of React Native contibutions to master, excluding merge commits Graph displaying number of pull requests opened for React Native

React Native was backed up by two tech behemoths at this year’s F8 conference: both Microsoft and Samsung committed to bringing React Native to Windows and Tizen. In the near future, we can expect more Universal Windows Platform and Smart TV apps to be built with React Native.

With the support of both community and tech giants, it’s not a surprise that React Native is a trending topic and framework. For the first time in the past 12 months, search terms for React Native surpassed iOS and Android development according to Google Trends.

Google Trends graph displaying framework interest over time where React Native surpassed iOS and Android Development

Falling in love with React Native

Sometime in November 2015, we started to think about the future of Shoutem platform. After 5 years on the market, supporting thousands of individuals, SMBs and big enterprises building their apps, we knew we needed to take our app creator platform to another level. We faced two major problems: technology limitations and customer demand.

With our current platform technology – based on HTML5, Javascript, Cordova, and other solutions – we knew cross-platform could never achieve the level of performance of native apps

On the other hand, customers wanted greater customization freedom and more powerful apps. If you add the rise of SDKs, frameworks for web developers, high global competition, and automated app maintenance that will drive mobile app development prices down, it was the perfect time for a change.

React Native was an obvious choice for multiple reasons. It solved our current architectural problems while allowing us to achieve a level of performance that is indistinguishable from native apps built with Java or Objective-C

Another reason is that React Native is a cross-platform solution: we’re planning to open our platform to other developers in order to supercharge  development and build beautiful native apps for iOS and Android. Furthermore, React Native is super web developer friendly and doesn’t require learning native iOS and Android languages, or native APIs – learn once, write anywhere.

In the end, we also want to open Shoutem platform to other developers and give them the opportunity to extend platform functionalities with new extensions.

Once the new version of Shoutem is officially launched, customization of the apps will be almost endless. Think of it as a WordPress for mobile apps, where extensions behave in the same way as WordPress plugins.

Infographic displaying history of React Native seen by Shoutem

Shoutem UI Toolkit

React Native still isn’t at its peak, and in the near future we expect to see more amazing apps and community contributions that will blow our minds. Remember when we said we fell in love with React Native?

After months of intensive work, last week we finally went official and introduced the first part of the new Shoutem platform, open-source UI toolkit for React Native – an exhaustive UI component set with beautiful themes and animations.

The amount of positive reactions and feedback from the community was astonishing – acknowledgment from Christopher Chedeau, a test restaurant example with Exponent by Brent Vatne, and many others, as well as more than 900 on GitHub means we are on the right track. 

We cannot wait to show you a new version of Shoutem, but until we’re ready to officially launch it, we’d like to hear your feedback on our open-source UI toolkit.

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http://blog.shoutem.com/brief-history-react-native/feed/ 1 Graph displaying number of React Native contibutions to master, excluding merge commits Graph displaying number of pull requests opened for React Native Google Trends graph displaying framework interest over time where React Native surpassed iOS and Android Development Infographic displaying history of React Native seen by Shoutem
Environmental apps can help you go green http://blog.shoutem.com/environmental-apps-can-help-you-go-green/ http://blog.shoutem.com/environmental-apps-can-help-you-go-green/#respond Mon, 19 Sep 2016 17:58:14 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10462 In the past few years, environmentalism is not showing signs of slowing down. The number of individuals, corporations, and governments that are jumping on a “green train” grows at the fast pace. Cutting emissions, saving energy, buying and investing in

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In the past few years, environmentalism is not showing signs of slowing down. The number of individuals, corporations, and governments that are jumping on a “green train” grows at the fast pace. Cutting emissions, saving energy, buying and investing in clean and renewable energy resources while saving money is becoming an integral part of strategic mindset for everyone.

Governments are offering various incentives to companies for going green in different forms: UK government offers a variety of environmental taxes, reliefs and schemes for businesses, while US government offers incentives the form of tax incentives, such as tax credits and rebates with many others.

Companies don’t only have governmental incentives, but they realized that going green has the potential to save millions of dollars in long-term, reducing the operational cost. Apple claims that in 2015, 93% of their energy came from renewable sources, while GM says it has saved more than $80 million from green-energy purchases and investments since 1993.

Apps for environmentally aware and app loving millennials

However, huge role in the going green has been played by us, customers. By becoming eco-minded, and increasing the demand for environmentally friendly products, companies can postpone going green, but they cannot ignore it. The Nielsen Company study, from 2015, states that millennials are willing to spend more for products that are environmentally friendly.

To make a positive impact on our planet and engage the millennial audience in the ecology movements, organizations started making apps. While the environmental apps cannot be an instant solution, but in a few clicks on our smartphone, everyone can take small steps towards a cleaner environment on a daily basis. Environmental apps can help us to start creating a habit of making more eco-friendly choices and switching to a “green mindset”.

We picked and reviewed 7 environmental apps that say it will help you go green.

How we tested?

We graded three aspects of each application: its design, information quality, and usability. The overall score is a combination of the average of the three scores, and the general look and feel of the app. All environmental apps were tested on both iOS and Android devices (#climate and GoodGuide apps are available only on App Store) with an iPhone 6 and Samsung S5. So let’s roll out the first contender.

#climate

#climate helps you discover and share climate change action with the greatest environmental impact. You can subscribe to different climate interest and receive only those actions from selected organizations and topics.

The app has a solid welcome wizard for users to learn how to use the app, filter topics, organization and set when to receive push notifications (as updated, daily and weekly basis). However, the app’s design is outdated, but even that wouldn’t be a problem if the app wasn’t cluttered with the content, pushing the readability to a very low level.

Using the #climate, we desired to redesign its clumsy navigation app, but also to help them improve the user engagement. At the moment #climate is redirecting users to the smartphone browsers, so they land outside of the app each time they click on a link  Instead, app’s child browser would increase time spent in the app and the user engagement. The app can be downloaded from the App Store.

#climate mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps

Dropcountr

Dropcountrs main goal is to help water utilities and people to save the water. The app connects the user directly to his water utility company which can then send messages about water budget, alert you of leaks or send customized drought. The app allows you not just to track water consumption, but also helps to set better water budget and to compare your use with others.

The app is designed to show you the date, charts and comparison tables in a beautiful, easy-to-understand and intuitive way. Navigation through the data is so easy and simple that makes a difficult task, as reducing water consumption, a fun game. The app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

Dropcountr mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps

Ecoviate

Ecoviate is trying to build a community around environmental sustainability and promises to plant one tree for every app download. The app includes environmental friendly tips to help you conserve water and save energy. It also includes elements of gamification with “Eco-Points” and rewards.

The app has some major bugs; after login, the app crashed and we needed to open it again. No matter how much time we tried and waited, both Home tab and Eco-tips cannot be loaded – this is probably due to the fact that the app hasn’t been updated for over a year.

Also, design and UX feel outdated and in combination with poor performance, the app won’t last long on users’ devices –  poor UX and technical issues are among top 3 reasons why users delete mobile app. Maybe it’s the right time to rethink app’s UX and design a great digital product. The app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

Ecoviate mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps

GoodGuide

GoodGuide allows you to find safe, healthy, green and socially responsible products based on scientific ratings. Ratings are done by GoodGuide’s scientist who rates both companies and products for their environmental, social and help impact on the scale from 0 – 10.

The app has a nice, simple wizard on the first opening to understand how the app works and how to use it which makes users’ onboarding as simple as it gets. From the design standpoint, the app is very user-friendly; super easy to use and navigate with straightforward and clean navigation,we loved it.

Filtering and sorting products works perfectly, while a number of information you can get for a specific product is huge; from the lists of stores where you can buy product, ingredients, alternative products and much more. The app can be downloaded from the App Store.

GoodGuide mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps

Oroeco

Oroeco offers fun and rewarding path for everyone to help solve the climate change and reduce their impact on the planet. You can choose to track your life activities – what you eat, how you live, transportation you use – and see how much climate impact do you have. With friendly competitions, you can compete with other users in a fun way to reduce your impact; you’ll even get a badge!

Oroeco app mastered the onboarding process with step by step tutorial on how to use the app. After you choose your country, you are automatically rewarded with ORO points and introduced to gamification part of the app. To fully use the app, you should complete the general survey (you have the option to fill it later) and from there, magic starts.

Data of your progress and impact is beautifully displayed, app’s navigation is intuitive and users can clearly see how strong was their impact on the environment. If more developers followed the Oroeco and build apps in the same way, app stores would be a better place. 🙂 The app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

Oroeco mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps

JouleBug

JouleBug mission is to make everyday habits more sustainable and environmentally friendly. From outdoor activities, energy and water preservation, the app encourages you to learn more about each tip, its impact with How.to videos and Helpful links and share the activities with your friends.

JouleBug is an absolute winner in the environmental apps that we tested. Tips and tricks, video tutorials and additional helpful content for every environmentally friendly action you take is an awesome set of data that will help users better understand the importance of the actions.

Connecting, following, competing and sharing your actions with other users is done in an interesting and fun way, while the perfectly executed gamification adds a cherry on top. The app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

 JouleBug mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps

PaperKarma

PaperKarma will help you to get rid of the unwanted paper mail and cut your paper waste. The concept is simple; if you don’t want to receive catalogs or magazines, pull out your phone, snap a photo of it and PaperKarma will do the rest – unsubscribe you from receiving it.

We liked the app, but we feel something’s missing. Although the process is as easy as described to stop receiving printed promo materials and emails, the app doesn’t provide any additional value to users.

There’s no incentive to go back in the app once you took a picture of unwanted mail nor does the app even tries to engage with users with, for example, curated environmental content, statistic data how much paper waste has been reduced, etc. The app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

JouleBug mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps

Conclusion

From our test, we can see that majority of environmental apps are interesting both to developers and users. Developers have found a way to make apps that will help you pay more attention to the environment, while users now have a fun and simple tool that will help them change everyday habits and become more aware of their impact on the environment.

Regardless of our scores, if one of these environmental apps is making you think more about your own environmental impact and starting to change your habits, then the app has succeeded.

But why stopping there – why don’t you try to make a great environmental apps yourself and try to make an impact on others? Start building your very own environmental app without coding today with our app builder. Maybe you’ll end up on one of our lists in the future 🙂

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http://blog.shoutem.com/environmental-apps-can-help-you-go-green/feed/ 0 #climate mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps Dropcountr mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps Ecoviate mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps GoodGuide mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps Oroeco mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps JouleBug mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps JouleBug mobile app rated by information, design and usability on behalf of Shoutem team for review of environmental apps
Knowledge is power, especially when making apps http://blog.shoutem.com/knowledge-is-power-especially-when-making-apps/ http://blog.shoutem.com/knowledge-is-power-especially-when-making-apps/#respond Fri, 16 Sep 2016 12:11:21 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10453 With the vast majority of the population relying on apps, making apps to help your small business see bigger turnover, reach more buying customers, and retain those who are already loyal to you is a huge advantage.

This is a

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With the vast majority of the population relying on apps, making apps to help your small business see bigger turnover, reach more buying customers, and retain those who are already loyal to you is a huge advantage.

This is a guest post from Jonathan Carmel, Founder at Comparakeet.

According to mobile measurement and advertising platform Flurry, the average person spends 86% of his or her smartphone and tablet usage on apps.

Chart displaying Time spent on iOS and Android devices between apps and browser

Time spent on iOS and Android Connected devices.

How to build an app that will boost your business

Your small business mobile app should definitely not go to waste, especially since you will or already have invested time, money, and effort in creating an app.

Presence and presentation

When creating an app for your business, look at it as another opportunity to solidify your branding.

As you have probably noticed, an app is usually represented by an app icon that differentiates it from the thousands of other apps out there. The icon should be something simple but recognizable, such as a company’s logo. An outstanding app design will increase your brand’s awareness and reach, as shown in Comparakeet’s review on Shoutem.

Using the name of your company can also work and can actually help make your brand a household name for clients and customers if they are exposed to it numerous times.

Functionality: Test and debug

The overall look and feel of your business app should be consistent with your company’s culture, whether it is simple and minimalistic or grand and highly intense. Whichever path you choose, functionality should always be the first priority in an application, especially since one of the main reasons customers will be compelled to download an app is the convenience it offers.

Always keep the user in mind when designing the overall layout of your app.

Simply having a business app is an advantage, and it will put you in front of your competition. However, you should make sure you created a plan and made a list of goals you want to achieve with your business app.

Only a fully functional, fast, user-friendly mobile app will enable your clients to share likes and recommendations with other people and prevent them from getting frustrated with a buggy app just sitting on their home screens.

If properly built, fully tested, and debugged, your app will load fast, and it will become your company’s best entry into the mobile space.

Young male making apps design prototype on papers

Prototype your mobile app.

Accessibility: Ease of use

Once a customer installs an app on his or her device, it is considered accessible, right? Nope. Once your company decides to create an app, consider what it will include and how easy it should be to use.

If applicable and if your budget permits, you can incorporate a payment gateway (such as PayPal, Authorize.net, or First Data) so customers can use your app to purchase items from your store.

As an alternative, you can include a menu so customers can see a comprehensive catalog of your products or services and their prices. Don’t forget to include your operating hours if you have a brick-and-mortar store.

This information will be accessible to users even when their phones are offline, so make sure you take advantage of this.

To help extend the reach of your business app, make sure it is compatible with and available on the most prominent mobile platforms: iOS and Android.

Excel at customer support: Instant communication

Improved customer service and direct links to customers are two of the biggest reasons why small businesses opt to create apps. This certainly has a positive effect on the customer experience since clients know they have the power to be heard by companies and receive responses as soon as possible.

With the power of social media today, every single customer interaction can either enhance or damage a brand’s name, so it is absolutely imperative that you give your customers a way to express their concerns and feedback.

A support channel in an app shortens response times and reduces negative word of mouth. In addition, superb customer service will encourage people to come back to your shop, especially since they know any issue they have will be investigated and resolved in an efficient, timely manner.

The power of word of mouth: Social media

Since social media power is increasing, make sure you connect your app to various platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, so your customers can share their experiences with your brand, review or share the products they purchase, and get inspiration for future transactions.

Social media can boost your business app to reach more customers

Use the power of social media to promote your app.

Increase retention: Push notifications

Business Insider found a positive relationship between enabled push notifications and user retention:

By using push notifications, you can easily disseminate important announcements to your users. In addition, you can send promos, special deals, and flash sales, the success of which depends heavily on customer participation, directly to each customer, removing the need for flyers, banners, and posters.

Moreover, you can create a loyalty program to show your appreciation for recurring customers and offer them rewards. Letting loyalty app users know about these special offers first will make them feel special and cared for, therefore earning your business lots of points for customer service.

Chart displaying global average app retention rate for iOS users in 2016

The chart of global average app retention rate for iOS users.

Use your business app to monitor the market

Once you create an app, one of the best ways to use your mobile channel is to gather user-generated data. This data will help you identify the demographics of your market, which can help you make or break your business model.

Eventually, you can create more effective promos and marketing plans, experiment with new offerings, and determine which products or services are your best sellers and which are slow movers.

You can adapt your business strategies and major decisions based on the information gathered via your business app. Having a reference point when making a choice, no matter how small that choice is, can help you determine where your business should go. Knowledge is power, after all.

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http://blog.shoutem.com/knowledge-is-power-especially-when-making-apps/feed/ 0 Chart displaying Time spent on iOS and Android devices between apps and browser Young male making apps design prototype on papers Social media can boost your business app to reach more customers Chart displaying global average app retention rate for iOS users in 2016
Now everybody can learn how to create mobile apps—with an app http://blog.shoutem.com/learn-how-to-create-mobile-apps-app-maker-academy/ http://blog.shoutem.com/learn-how-to-create-mobile-apps-app-maker-academy/#respond Tue, 13 Sep 2016 15:14:39 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10409 We are introducing the App Maker Academy, an app with tutorials for anyone who wants to learn how to make a mobile app and understand the principles of in-app marketing.

Every day, Shoutem’s Support and Customer Success specialists meet users …

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We are introducing the App Maker Academy, an app with tutorials for anyone who wants to learn how to make a mobile app and understand the principles of in-app marketing.

Every day, Shoutem’s Support and Customer Success specialists meet users with questions about the business and process of building mobile apps:

– Where can I learn how to build an app?
– Which tutorial for creating mobile apps do you recommend?
– How fast can I make an app for my business?
– Who can help me design mobile apps?
– How much money can I earn by developing apps?

To help our users and provide them answers in a convenient form, we created the App Maker Academy. With this new tool, you can get the answers from Shoutem’s support team even faster.

New Shoutem app builder platform opened on iMac browser

A pocket academy

To help our clients learn and share our expertise with everyone who wants to learn how to make mobile apps, we created a mobile pocket academy. The mobile format enables learning about mobile apps during all activities: lunch break, while sitting on the park bench to catch some fresh air or commuting to work. Each day users have the opportunity to learn something new about building mobile apps.

App Maker Academy app running on white iPhone 6 placed on the notebook

Lessons on building mobile apps

The lessons offer an overview of the app creation process, and they guide you through how to implement basic modules first. Once you’re confident with the basics, you will learn about advanced features, the publishing process, and integrating with Shopify, WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other services.

Two young people learning how to make mobile apps with App Maker Academy made by Shoutem

Resources

In addition to the lessons, the App Maker Academy offers a rich library with tips and tricks from our support specialists and an inspirational list of posts showcasing the most successful, most beautiful apps built with Shoutem.

App Maker Academy app running on black iPhone 6 next to the Magic Mouse and Apple Keyboard

Sharing is caring

We created the App Maker Academy to help those who want to learn or who only have a few questions about building mobile apps. If you fall into either of these categories, download the App Maker Academy from the App Store or the Google Play Store. If you know someone who could use advice on making apps, we’d be thrilled if you’d share this post with them.

Happy app making!

Download on the App Store button iconDownload on Google Play Store button icon

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http://blog.shoutem.com/learn-how-to-create-mobile-apps-app-maker-academy/feed/ 0 New Shoutem app builder platform opened on iMac browser App Maker Academy app running on white iPhone 6 placed on the notebook Two young people learning how to make mobile apps with App Maker Academy made by Shoutem App Maker Academy app running on black iPhone 6 next to the Magic Mouse and Apple Keyboard Download on the App Store button icon Download on Google Play Store button icon
Hall of Fame: The Vinyl District http://blog.shoutem.com/hall-of-fame-vinyl-district-2/ http://blog.shoutem.com/hall-of-fame-vinyl-district-2/#respond Mon, 12 Sep 2016 18:38:18 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10393 If you enjoy listening music old school way, on vinyl, The Vinyl District is the perfect app for you. Join the community of vinyl-lovers, keep up with TVD blog and discover new record stores.

What is the main purpose of

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If you enjoy listening music old school way, on vinyl, The Vinyl District is the perfect app for you. Join the community of vinyl-lovers, keep up with TVD blog and discover new record stores.

What is the main purpose of The Vinyl District app and who is it for?

The main purpose is to promote record and music store culture to people who are interested in record store culture and buying records. The app helps them find record stores and communicate with other like-minded people. It also helps store owners to find new, connect with current and nurture loyal customers.

Why did you create a mobile app?

My first thought was that it was something I personally would like, and no one else had done it yet.

How was the app received in the community of vinyl-lovers?

Very well! We were first on the market with this sort of mobile app, and the response was immediate and enthusiastic.

Male holding black iPhone 6 with The Vinyl District app opened

What was the greatest challenge in the app creation process and how did you solve it?

Our greatest challenge was, and remains, monetizing our efforts. We still have not come up with a satisfactory way to monetize from it other than using Google ads, but we’re working hard and constantly finding new ways to monetize the app.

How hard was it to onboard the record stores listed in the app?

Not hard at all. Most record stores are happy to be a part of the community, and to get some free advertising to a highly targeted demographic.

Which feature in the app benefits your users most? Please, explain how.

I wouldn’t say there’s a single special feature that brings the most value to our users – I think it’s the overall app that’s appealing. The feedback we hear from our users is that our content (vinyl store locations, social module, etc.), which we keep as up-to-date as possible, is the most valuable to them. That, and being the first and best at what we do. 🙂

Male drummer holding black iPhone 6 while using The Vinyl District appHow easy was making the app using Shoutem?

Very easy! We were a fairly early user for Shoutem, and they made things extremely simple. The customer service response time has always been excellent, too.

How do you promote your app?

We promote our app through the word of mouth and social media. These channels proved themselves as the most effective ones.

You can download The Vinyl District app on the App Store or Google Play and engage with the community of vinyl-lovers on their Facebook page or Twitter.

P.S. Follow the example of The Vinyl District team and grow your audience, attract new customers with a dedicated mobile app, you are just one click away from success!

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Hall of Fame: Golf News Net http://blog.shoutem.com/hall-fame-golf-news-net/ http://blog.shoutem.com/hall-fame-golf-news-net/#respond Wed, 31 Aug 2016 18:33:04 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10357 No matter if you are a pro player or just a golf fan, Golf News Net app wants to be your first source of latest golf news and videos. 

What is the main purpose of the Golf News Net app

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No matter if you are a pro player or just a golf fan, Golf News Net app wants to be your first source of latest golf news and videos. 

What is the main purpose of the Golf News Net app and who is it for?

The GNN app is designed for all golf fans, allowing them to keep in touch with the latest happenings in the game they love, ranging from the professional rankings to what impacts their weekend games.

Which features in the app will benefit users the most? Please, explain how.

GNN app users will benefit most from experiencing all of our content in a single place, aggregating what we share from third-party and social-media services, including our video, on-demand and live audio content.

A girl consuming content from Golf News Net app created with Shoutem

What kind of an impact has the app had on the golf community?

The app has been a great way for our growing audience to connect with us more easily, including listening to our on-demand and live audio, watching our burgeoning video library and reading our written content in a quick, easy-to-consume fashion.

How do you promote your app in the golf community?

We are promoting the app on our website and through our social channels for now, via Facebook and Twitter.

Young male listening radio in Golf News Net app made with Shoutem

What was the greatest challenge in the app creation process and how did you solve it?

The app creation process was relatively straightforward. The primary issue for us – and we’re still working on it – is making the best integration possible with our WordPress CMS and letting our readers search through our archived written content.

Why did you decide to use the Shoutem app builder?

Shoutem is a cost-effective tool for us. We were able to build and will be able to maintain our app on the platform without having to hire developers, who would charge us substantially more money for the feature set we have with Shoutem.

We’re a very small team at GNN, so being efficient is an absolute must for us, even as our audience grows.

P.S. Follow the example of Golf News Net team and grow your audience and customers with a dedicated mobile app, you are just one click away from success!

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Review of 10 Festival Apps for the Summer of 2016 http://blog.shoutem.com/review-10-festival-apps-summer-2016/ http://blog.shoutem.com/review-10-festival-apps-summer-2016/#respond Thu, 18 Aug 2016 15:39:14 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10340 It is that time of the year once again when music festivals are blooming. There isn’t a single part of the US or Europe where you can’t find a real music event to suit your taste. Group traveling in old

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It is that time of the year once again when music festivals are blooming. There isn’t a single part of the US or Europe where you can’t find a real music event to suit your taste. Group traveling in old VW wagons, parties till early in the morning, summer star-watching while lying on the grass, and all the other perks of the Woodstock era, are still here, but a few things have changed since your parents were taking an occasional woof in the back of the old VW Beetle.

Mobile apps are pretty much a priority if you are organizing any public event, and festivals are no exception. Having a good mobile app will ensure that your audience gets the information they need for attending such an event, andas a bonusgives you, as an organizer, a fantastic marketing tool.

We picked ten festivals (actually 12, to be fair, but you’ll see that in the rest of the article) and rated their mobile apps.

How we tested?

We graded three aspects of each application: its design, information quality, and usability. The overall score is a combination of the average of the first two scores, and our overall score, which relates to the overall feel look and feel of the app. All the apps were tested on iOS devices, with an iPhone 5 and iPhone 6. So let’s roll out the first contender.

Coachella 2016

Coachella is a music and arts festival held at the Empire Club in Indio, California, located in the Coachella Valley of the Colorado Desert. The festival itself is great, but the app not so great.

The first thing that boggled us was the fact that there are just too many permissions on the first screen. Another thing was that the app has a double-tap bar in the news/social section, which is rather confusing. The app has some cool features like VR, but you have to download a separate app for that.

Coachella 2016 festival app

Glastonbury

Glastonbury Festival is a five-day festival of contemporary performing arts that takes place near Pilton, Somerset, in England. It has a very long tradition, dating back to the ‘70s.

The Glastonbury app requests a push permission just as you start the app (isn’t that annoying?), and it is very slow, even on the latest hardware. The design is inconsistent: there is no artist section, though you can navigate through the tiny line-up section to find an artist you are looking for, and the info about them good luck with that.

The thing that bothered us the most was the ad at the bottom of the screen. This badly affected the usability because, as with any ad on the screen, there is less room on the app for the actual content.

Glastonbury festival app

Rock Werchter

Rock Werchter is a Belgian annual music festival held in the village of Werchter, near Leuven. It, too, has a long tradition, dating back to the mid-‘70s.

Their app, on the other hand, doesn’t feel old at all. On first glance it has a shiny, fresh design that uses some neat effects and transitions; however, the minute you start using it you realize that something is way off. Scheduling works really bad, UX and UI are inconsistent, and getting to some parts of the app is like using a labyrinth the font size is way too small.

We honestly liked the use of colors and certain design elements, even the up-to-date user mechanics, but they just aren’t used in the right way.

Rock Werchter mobile festival app

Roskilde

Roskilde is an annual music festival held in the south of Roskilde in Denmark. Yet again, it dates back to the start of the ’70s.

The Roskilde app was one of the better apps in our review; unfortunately it fails on the most basic things, like requesting permissions at the start. The general focus of the app is obviously on the music itself on the listening, to be exact. It features a slick Spotify integration, Facebook integration, maps, food locator, and some other cool features, packed in an overall unique, but very elegant, design. Good job.

Roskilde mobile festival app

Nova Rock

Nova Rock is a music festival in eastern Austria that has been going down since 2005. We sadly admit that Nova Rock was one of the worst apps on the test. From a design standpoint, the color choice could be better, as could the font size (and choice) too, and the usability is not so great either.

The app sometimes looks like a web page without the loaded CSS, which isn’t that much of a surprise because more than half of the app is loaded via website modules. At least the app works fine (no hiccups, and every one loads pretty fast).

Nova Rock mobile festival app

Pinkpop

Again, we are sad to report that the Pinkpop app doesn’t go hand in hand with the festival it represents. First of all, the app doesn’t have an English version, so we were just tapping on the dark pushing buttons.

For the rest of the world that doesn’t speak Dutch, this app is unusable, which made us wonder whether the organizer actually wanted to target an audience outside of The Netherlands. On top of that, it takes way too long to load the map (over a minute on the iPhone 6S).

Pinkpop mobile festival app

Rock am Ring & Rock im Park

Rock am Ring & Rock im Park are two simultaneous rock music festivals held annually in Germany from 1985. Interestingly, there are two apps for both of these festivals, but they are almost identical (except for the logo). When you think about it, this approach doesn’t really make sense since there could be one app incorporating the info for both festivals.

Anyway, the app(s) have that generic look & feel that nobody wants. Once again, there is no English language option (only German). Secondly, there is a push permission request on the first screen. Moving on, you can use Facebook integration for adding events to your favorites, but there is no profile page (a real login doesn’t exist, as such).

And another bad thing, which we’ve already seen, is an excessive use of webpages within the app where the line-up opens up in the web page designed for each artist individually. Excessive usage of webpages in an app is plain wrong. The content should always be added natively, which is way better for the whole user experience because the content can then be customized.

Rock am Ring mobile festival app

Sziget

Sziget is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. Dating from the early ‘90s, when it was a relatively low-profile student event, nowadays it has become one of the most prominent European rock festivals, with visitors from all across Western Europe and more than a thousand annual performances.

We are glad to admin that Sziget is, hands down, the best app on the test. Neat Spotify integration, correctly implemented scheduling system with filters and almost the same level of quality in its handling of the artists. Overall, whoever built this app did a great job. The only thing we could lay against this app is the design, which isn’t bad, but doesn’t doesn’t match the other special aspects of this app.

Sziget mobile festival app

Open’er

The Open’er festival is the music festival that takes place on the north coast of Poland. It is, in a nutshell, another generic app a very similar, if not the same, solution as used by some of the other festival apps on this list. Nevertheless, this is not a bad app at all it just doesn’t have anything to make it stand out. At best, it’s mediocre.

Open'er mobile festival app

Reading & Leeds

And last, but not least… well actually, these are unfortunately the last on our list and the least worthy of noticing. Reading and Leeds festivals are another pair of rock festivals that take place simultaneously, but this time in England. If you take into account their jazz heritage dating back to the mid-50s these two festivals are respectable rock events that, in their prime, hosted many rock legends like Pink Floyd, Guns N’ Roses, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Metallica, Nirvana, and Oasis. You name it… even Eminem himself was there.

Too bad the apps aren’t even noteworthy. Again, we have that big red flag in the form of permissions on the first screen, but this time four of them is that a record? Overall, the design is awful, and it’s just a shame that such excellent music festivals are represented by such poor mobile apps.

Reading Leeds mobile festival app

Conclusion

As you can see, overall the festival apps could be a whole lot better. Generic apps seem to dominate the niche, which is a shame because a lot of the people visiting such events appreciate good content, presented imaginatively. Festival apps should be easy to use, and users should be blown away by their design as they are with the music.

So ultimately, there is really only one question on our lips – can you make a great festival apps quickly? Well, actually you can, and people are doing it every day. With Shoutem, you can build a totally custom festival app today!

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The PokéNet story: How to launch an app in less than a week http://blog.shoutem.com/pokenet-story-launch-app-less-week/ http://blog.shoutem.com/pokenet-story-launch-app-less-week/#respond Thu, 11 Aug 2016 14:45:46 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10318 Everyone knows that when there is a new next big thing out there, that the people who are able to move the fastest are the ones who are best able to take advantage of the new trend and make money …

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Everyone knows that when there is a new next big thing out there, that the people who are able to move the fastest are the ones who are best able to take advantage of the new trend and make money off it. And the next big thing in the App Store for the last few weeks has been Pokémon Go – a worldwide phenomenon that has people hunting Pokémon on their phones in parks, malls and colleges in the millions.

And, of course, a number of guides have sprung up in the App Store to help players do better in the game. One of the first was the PokéNet app, created with the Shoutem app builder.

Creating an app for fetching Pokémons

The Appency team, who made the app, expected that the normal features of the Shoutem app maker would have to be customized to design the app for the Pokémon players – but thankfully the modules in Shoutem are customizable enough that they can be adapted to a wide number of uses beyond their original intent.

Mockups of different screens in PokeNet app

Which features does the new Pokémon app have?

The new PokéNet app improves the experience of Pokémon Go players with features like a special PokéVision map that helps them to locate Pokémons quickly and shows super spots with the nests of rare Pokémons.

  • Social Wall – The PokéWall
    The main area of the app uses the social network features of Shoutem to build an interactive experience for players called the PokéWall – something that most guide apps do not have. Users can post pics of their Pokémon finds, ask other players questions, and get notifications from the administrators. If trading is added to the game, the social wall becomes a great place to find other players who have what you need.
  • People Module – Comparing Pokémon characteristics
    One of the most important aspects of the Pokémon Go game is understanding the differences between the various Pokémon that you can catch. Using the People Module, Appency built both a Pokedex (a guide with details of all the creatures in the game) and a “Battle Strength and Weakness” guide that shows users the best way to attack other users’ gyms in the game.
  • News Module – Tips, tricks and recent updates
    Two different sections use the news module in Shoutem – “Tips & Tricks” gives the Appency team editorial control in placing articles into the app for how to play better, and the “Pokémon News” section is populated by pulling an RSS feed from a Google News search about Pokémon.
  • Places – Nests with rare Pokémons
    In the first version, places were used to create a database of super spots – locations that have many PokéStops, such as Central Park or the National Mall. As the game progressed, it became clear that what was most important was finding the nests of rare Pokémon. Using an online database and user submissions, the PokéNet app created a network of over 500 rare Pokémon nest locations geolocated into a map so players know where to find that elusive Pikachu!
  • Websites – Unique features
    Some of the unique Pokémon Go features would have required custom programming. Features like server status updates and the PokéVision map (a map that tells you where all the Pokémon in your area are spawning and how long they will be there) were extremely demanding to build. Thankfully, a few enthusiastic Pokémon players developed these features. Through the Shoutem app maker, Appency was able to integrate these new features to provide added value to PokéNet users.

With the support of the Shoutem team, submission into the app stores was rushed through, and the app was published within a week of Pokémon Go’s initial launch. The app has received a lot of attention in both the App Store and GooglePlay. If you’re a Pokémon trainer yourself, you might want to take a look!

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Eleven mistakes you can avoid when making an app http://blog.shoutem.com/eleven-mistakes-can-avoid-making-app/ http://blog.shoutem.com/eleven-mistakes-can-avoid-making-app/#respond Tue, 09 Aug 2016 17:00:40 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10302 You’ve heard it over and over again: app stores are exploding with content these days, and the number of new apps being launched each day shows no sign of slowing. Instead of seeing this as a deterrent, though, you can …

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You’ve heard it over and over again: app stores are exploding with content these days, and the number of new apps being launched each day shows no sign of slowing. Instead of seeing this as a deterrent, though, you can take the “glass half full” approach and see it as a ton of case studies to learn from.

So, if you’re serious about turning your app idea into something that gets used, and loved, by others, then it’s worth thinking about some of the things that can go wrong. Hopefully you can then avoid them yourself!

This is a guest blog post from Steve Lamattina, Chief Editor at ToolTester Network/AppToolTester.

Branding mistakes

1. Complicated name

The name of your app, while not the first thing you need to figure out, is definitely an important issue. One of the problems that people make is creating a complicated name. Perhaps it has too many syllables, is difficult to pronounce, or simply doesn’t make sense.

image_complicated_name
Sorry, unfortunately, this name has already been taken.

2. Trademarked name (a.k.a. stolen identity)

You’ve just come up with an awesome name, published your app…and then suddenly you get sued! Now all that branding and PR have gone to waste because you’re going to have to change the name. Not good.

How to fix these:

To help think of a catchy name that might also be descriptive or functional, you can experiment with joining words or “WordSmashing.” A lot of the biggest apps out there do this to great effect: Facebook, Instagram, QuickPic, Citymapper, and many others. With the last two, at least, you can take a guess at what kind of apps these might be just from the two words they’ve stuck together. If this approach fails you, then just think of something short and snappy that hasn’t already been taken!

This brings us to the second point, please use the Trademark Electronic Search System (or TMView for the EU) when coming up with your name. Even though this is not considered the only place you need to look, you should start here for a quick reference.

Content mistakes

3. Too many features

Bigger is better right? Well, not always and, in the world of apps, it’s more useful to think along the lines of “less is more.” One mistake that app creators make is chucking in every type of feature just because it exists. Perhaps it’s due to the misguided idea that your app will then appeal to the widest audience. Bloated apps aren’t good for anyone, though.

4. Unnecessary content

Along the same lines as above, filling up your app with content just because you have it should not be one of your goals. If there’s too much “stuff” to navigate through, this makes it more of a chore than a pleasure for your users.

How to fix these:

First, you need to make sure you do the research and know your market. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a better grasp of what niche your app is trying to fill.

It’s worth keeping that word in mind: niche.

This word should conjure up images that oppose the idea of “Bigger is Better.” It’s worth focusing on a small subset of people and giving them exactly what they want without the filler.

image_animated_shazam

Shazam is a great example of an initially simple app with one focus (identifying a song) which now, after many years, has slowly added functions such as the above.

 

Another thing you could do is release a pared-down version of your app to begin with, just keeping the primary functions and content. This has three benefits: first, you are forced to think about what elements of your app are essential; second, you’re then able to give your full attention to developing these sections well; finally, you can get real feedback as to what extra elements people are looking for via comments. This doesn’t mean that you have to implement every user-suggested function, but you might see trends in what people are asking for.

Design mistakes

5. Not focusing on UX

This is a common problem with new app creators, often simply due to their lack of experience. UX (user experience) encompasses many areas, but it’s basically about creating an app that users can pick up and use intuitively, that is, without too much explanation. A good test: if it takes more than three swipes, or taps, for someone to get to what they’re looking for, then that’s an example of a bad UX.

One thing to note when discussing app makers in particular is that you’re designing for both iOS and Android systems concurrently. This can be tricky to get right. So it’s worth a bit of investigation into how each system works, particularly with the placement of the menus and use of the “backwards” buttons (which iOS doesn’t have). Keep the placement neutral but also intuitive.

6. Inconsistent design

It’s easy to get lost when designing the separate features within your app. Most app makers have an “overall” design section that helps keep things mostly consistent in terms of color palette, but it’s worth keeping this palette in mind when deciding on new buttons, menu items, or call-to-actions within the app.

This also feeds into UX, as the flow from section to section should also remain consistent to help people get the hang of your app quickly.

7. Bad logo/icon design

This one’s pretty inexcusable these days, yet it still happens way too often. Logos and icons are often the first things that potential users see, and if they are unclear or unattractive, then people will simply keep scrolling. Also, having bad icons is one of the top three reasons that Apple rejects apps from its store. Using words, pixelated images, or clashing colors are all no-no’s for your icon. Words are kept for the logo itself, as it usually consists of your app name and some connection to your icon imagery. See below for examples.

image_bad_icon_design

‘Vine’ icon & logo versus ‘Poker Stars’. Which would you choose?

How to fix these:

As with content, the best advice is to keep things simple and clean. Material design is popular at the moment, and it might be worth using these guidelines when designing your app. Also, Apple’s guidelines are very handy too, and a handy summary can be found here. In effect, a kid should be able to pick up your app and use it without issues.

Creating flow diagrams, even if just sketched, is a great way to visualize user flow and experience with your app before you start. It’s also good to have these to refer back to throughout development.

image_wireframe

Basic user flowchart for iOS application (source: Paul Moore)

 

To help keep a consistent and complementary color palette, it might be helpful to use one of the free tools online. Coolers is a nice option. It allows you to generate random palettes or input a color and generate palettes based off that.

If you have little or no design experience, you can learn the basics for free just using YouTube. Simply search for PhotoShop or Illustrator tutorials. If you have a little spare cash, then it may be worth investing in a paid course from somewhere like Lynda. If you have more spare cash, then it might even be worth investing in a UX professional from a site such as Upwork. And I think it’s always worth the investment to get a well-designed logo. You can use 99designs to do this on the cheap.

image_animated_soundcloud

Soundcloud apps have both good UX and consistent design.

 

And finally test, test, test! Ask friends, family, workmates, and anyone else you can to try out your app in its various stages. You can also use programs such as TestFlight for iOS beta testing to help get your app out there while it’s still in its preliminary stages.

We also have a lot more info on designing your app here.

Marketing mistakes

8. Last-minute marketing

It’s easy to forget about marketing when developing your app. You have so many other factors you’re constantly considering. But planning your marketing right from the get-go is very important. Making sure that the right media sources are aware of your app and launch dates can really help get the word out and boost launch figures.

9. Not considering ASO

A lot of people simply ignore this acronym…don’t be one of those people. ASO, or app store optimization, is all about optimizing different factors, such as your app title and description, to help increase your organic search volume. This basically means making your app easier to find among the millions of other apps out there, so it’s something you’re going to want to do, right? Once again, this is something you need to be thinking about right from the beginning, as it will affect all aspects of your app, such as what you decide to name it, how to market it, and even what it will look like.

10. Not understanding your audience/niche

There it is, that word again: niche. You can’t escape it. This goes hand in hand with basically all of the above because everything about your app needs to be informed by who your app is being made for. Apps will always fail if you don’t have a particular group in mind when creating your app, whether it be gender-based, age-group based, location-based, or interest-based.

11. Not responding to your audience

This comes post-launch and, perhaps you think we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves, but mistakes are not only made before you publish your app. A lot of app makers simply forget about the customer once they’ve launched or they ignore negative comments. You really need to make sure that if someone comments, particularly if they have an issue, you get back to them offering support. When people see responses to comments, it shows your users that you care about them and your app.

image_bad_review

Probably time to rethink your sync?

How to fix these:

As mentioned above, create a marketing plan as soon as you start planning your app. You can find simple outlines with an online search if you need ideas. But basically you want to include things such as important dates, marketing channels, advertising opportunities, and key contacts. It might not hurt to include a breakdown of your marketing budget, too, if you have one!

With every marketing plan, you also need to make sure you do some market research. Simple things, like having a particular person in mind, really will help with this step. You can then gather statistics and information regarding which social media channels are frequented most often by your target group, what color palettes are the most popular, and the best forms of advertising.

As for ASO, it’s really worth understanding the basics of how you can optimize your app. There are several simple things you can do, such as optimizing your name and description, but you can find more detailed information in our ASO beginners guide.

Preparation is the key

As with most things in life, preparation is key. This is also true when creating your app. After reading this article, you’re already on your way! Just being aware of mistakes that people often make will help you plan ahead and hopefully avoid them yourself.

I hope this article has given you some food for thought. It’s difficult to cover everything in one article (and you probably would have dozed off halfway through if I tried to), but you can easily find more in-depth information on each area…especially now that you know what you’re looking for.

There are a lot of apps out there, and the frustrating reality is that majority of them are terrible. I hope this piece encourages you to contribute something to the “user-friendly” end of the spectrum!

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