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Paul LabergeDeveloper Evangelist
Frédéric HarperDeveloper Evangelist
When a mobile app marketplace hits a population of five figures, it becomes a little tough at times to have your app stand out of the crowd. Even if your app or game is the most awesome thing ever invented since the spork, it’s still tough to get that initial traction when there is a sea of other apps that also get users’ attention. One of the ways to gain that traction is to create an app or game experience that is fundamentally different (in a positive way) from your competitors’ apps and even making your app stand out across apps that are not even related to yours. Experience trumps almost everything, so if you make the experience of your app amazing, then you will get traction sooner or later.
Differentiation is one of those buzzwords that seems to find its way into most tech-related conversations these days. It’s right up there with the phrase leveraging synergies. That said, there is a time and place for every word and phrase and I’m going to use Differentiation in this post.
Mobile app stores are funny things, really. When they are new and therefore not very populated, users complain that they can’t find the apps they’re looking for. Then, when a mobile platform takes off and becomes popular, users complain that they can’t find the apps they’re looking for. Interesting similarities, aren’t they.
If the marketplace is new, it’s much easier to get traction when your app is awesome because the focus becomes squarely on your app or game. This post isn’t about that scenario. This post is about getting your apps and games to stand out in a crowded marketplace (the Windows Phone Marketplace is rapidly getting to that state with over 50,000 apps published and growing and a fast clip on top of that).
The rest of this discussion will focus on strategies to make your apps and games shine and therefore get your users’ attention by implementing great features that will rock your app experience.
The first thing you really need to do to succeed in differentiating your app from the rest is understand your mobile app platform. The more your know about the capabilities of your target platform, the easier it is to determine scenarios under which your app will really shine on the platform. Be creative with the capabilities; maybe there’s something you could do with a feature like push notifications in your app that no one has ever done before.
It also means to understand the personality of your target platform. In the case of Windows Phone, this is largely about the Metro Design Language (more on that here). If you were talking about iOS, the personality is more glassy and bubble-oriented. For Android, it looks like Google has adopted something similar to Metro (focus on typography, flat style, etc.). Going against the native style of the phone platform makes your app jarring. That said, a jarring interface is likely going to differentiate your app from competitors but you have to be careful; it the app doesn’t feel like it belongs, then users will likely make sure it doesn’t belong in their app list, either.
I talked a little bit about experience already in this post (and others) and it may sound a bit like a broken record, but I cannot stress the point enough that a great user experience sells more apps. Users want to be delighted. Users want to have intuitive interfaces. Users want the cool features they expect in the mobile apps they already use in your app and they expect something different as well. It’s up to you to define “something different” but suffice it to say, it’s that extra added touch that makes your app that much more in demand.
Ultimately, the experience of your app defines a journey for your user. There are three stages to this journey as well and you need to think about all of them:
Now that we’ve talked about strategies on differentiation in a fairly general sense, it’s time for me to give you examples of features on the Windows Phone platform that you can use on your apps to create amazing (and differentiated) experiences that make your app more marketable!
Hopefully this article gave you some new ideas on how to make your app more marketable. If you have found more ways to make your app more successful in the Marketplace, feel free to share!
This post was the fourth in a series of five posts on strategies for being successful on the Windows Phone Marketplace. The first post (publishing in the right geographies) is here. The second post (trial mode and the art of the upsell) is here. The third post (finding the pricing sweet spot) is here. The fifth post (how to get promoted in the Windows Phone Marketplace) is upcoming on this blog.