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Effective Use of Art and Science: Five Steps to Fixing Bad Apps

Posted on Jul 02, 2012

Many complain that they just don’t have enough time and money to build the type of compelling apps that major companies like Citibank, Amazon and UPS do. But according to Robert Plant’s recent blog article in the Harvard Business Review, big money isn’t really much of an asset in good app development.

This article really caught my eye since I am the marketing part of a multi-functional team challenged with building really compelling apps for payment processing. Here are the stages:

  • Is there a recognition gap? This seems like a no-brainer. Everything we do has to reinforce our brand identity. It’s the most valuable of our company assets and will survive long after apps have come and gone. I agree with the idea that the color scheme has to be consistent and interact/connect with other web assets owned by the same brand. Also, the usability and conventions also need to be the same across platforms. This can be a real challenge for the best usability teams to get right.
  •  Is there a brand-personalization gap? Brand personalization equates to really understanding the user’s problems and prioritizing such problems even though they are in a constant state of fluctuation. American Airlines is a good example of how to make it easy for the customer to book flights, use electronic boarding passes, and stay engaged. This level of problem-understanding is a critical aspect of all development.
  • Is there a data gap? Having consistent data regardless of platform allows the consumer to feel comfortable that they have the correct, secure information. This is becoming easier to accomplish from a technical perspective using cloud technology.
  • Is there a decision gap? Closely related to having the right data is the ability for consumers to make decisions and complete transactions the same or better than traditional methods. If the app cannot connect real-time and the experience is less than what can be achieved from other devices, then it is a failure.
  • Is there a reinforcement gap? It seems as though if you get the first four right, you ought to eliminate any reinforcement gap. Having a highly branded experience that is specific to the user’s problem, delivers consistent data, and makes it easier than other methods… well what could be more of a reinforcement?

So avoid delivering bland apps and take the time to try these five phases with a really critical eye and see if your app improves. I plan to take this one to the bank…or at least to our next app review session.

Source: Harvard Business Review July 6 2012