When it comes to creating an app, one of the worst things you can do as an entrepreneur is to try and please everybody. It’s an easy trap to fall into — in theory, the more people you can please right off the bat, the bigger your potential audience will be. But in reality, this approach to development rarely yields positive results.
While one good idea can give birth to another, it can also open up a can of worms — nuggets of inspiration that seem good at the time, but actually just bog down your core idea. If there is no discernment when it comes to choosing the right features, a project can quickly grow unruly, causing users to become frustrated and abandon your app. And, before you know it, all of that hard work trying to please everyone goes down the drain.
Let your core idea shine.
Instagram is a prime example of simplicity and ease of use reigning supreme. The company built a clean, streamlined app around the concept of capturing and sharing photos — nothing else. By focusing on a core audience and concept without added fluff, it allowed its customer base to grow organically and guide the trajectory of its meteoric growth.
The best approach to app development follows the old adage of “less is more.” Here are five ways to keep your app simple while still maintaining what makes it special in the first place:
- Know the road before you drive it. In many cases, the easiest way to avoid feature creep is to plan out your app before the first line of code is even written. This could be as old school as planning out a prototype on paper (an underrated approach) or by wireframing — essentially creating a digital blueprint for your app. This foreknowledge of your final product ensures every facet fits into a preordained structure, and adding superfluous features will be much more difficult.
- Keep your key difference in mind. There’s a reason you’re going forward with this app — a single element that makes it stand out from its competitors. Adding too many features is a good way to bury what makes it special. If, during the development process, you find you can no longer see your app’s main selling point, start paring down.
- Catalogue what you don’t use. Ideas will come and go, and the best way to cut a feature is to keep it in mind for a future version. You can wireframe or even design these features and keep them in a well-documented backlog. When the time comes to update your app, pay attention to what your customers feel is missing, and see if your backlog features match up with those requests. If so, you can roll that feature out quickly. If not, breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing you saved a lot of budget and heartache.
- Focus on the majority of your audience. If you’re going into a crowded space, get to know what users expect from a product so you can avoid the pitfalls of your competitors. See the troubles of a convoluted interface or a product that’s off its mark? Use it to your advantage. If your competitors’ apps have little-used features, keep these features out of your version 1.0. If only 5 to 15 percent of your base would find it useful, it can wait
- Pay attention to feedback. The job of keeping things simple doesn’t stop once your app debuts. If your customers dislike a feature, you should consider revising or pulling from your product. Don’t be scared to remove what’s not working, even after you’ve spent time and money adding it to your product. In the long run, a streamlined app is far more valuable than bloatware.
Your app doesn’t have to be minimalistic to be simple. As long as you keep your app’s special ingredient in mind and avoid adding features without purpose, you’ll have the blueprints to success right in front of you.
Image Credit: CC by Francisco Schneider Junior