Some big news rocked the den of MONSTERS Unlimited recently. We learned we won a Gold ADDY Award for our mobile application development work. We’re pretty proud of this awesome achievement, and we thought we’d use it as a springboard to discuss what goes into creating an award-winning mobile app.

What in the Name of Godzilla Are the ADDYs?

Addys_BlackGoldThe ADDYs are awards from the American Advertising Federation (AAF) that honor creative excellence in advertising from all media types. The ADDY Award MONSTERS received came from the Akron Chapter of AAF, a great organization that brings together the entire local marketing communications community.

Don’t worry, we’re not going to spend this whole post tooting our own MONSTER horns. To learn more about our Gold ADDY Award, check out these links:

Instead, we want to talk about the development of the mobile app that earned us this golden reward. Here’s a glimpse inside the challenges and thought that went into developing this application, and four key takeaways to keep in mind if you’re thinking of developing your own mobile app.

Developing an App that Aims to ‘Unite This City’

The MONSTERS team has been in the mobile app development game for years. We’ve developed a variety of game and brand apps, and we relish partnering with individuals and organizations to bring their mobile application ideas to life.

The app that led us to the ADDY Awards is one of the most unique applications we’ve worked on. Unite This City is a membership-driven Web and mobile application created specifically for people living and working in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. The purpose of the app is to encourage people to support local businesses—and reward them with deals, discounts and prizes for doing so.

Addy_Entry_UTC

Bringing an Innovative Idea to Smartphone Screens

For the Unite This City application idea to work, the app had to be engaging and easy to use. It had to make offers and rewards accessible and give people a reason to want to be part of the program. That required developing a number of features that had to be available on the app from day one.

These included:

Search – The ability to search for local businesses and events, and see their addresses and proximity to your location. Search tool also needed to enable users to refine their searches by business category.

Profiles – Participating local businesses have profiles through the app which individuals can use to rate the business, get directions there, follow them on Facebook, call them up, and visit their websites.

Wallet – The app tracks the amount of Unite This City (UTC) cash a person accrues. This cash can then be used at participating businesses, and redeemed directly through the app.

Check-In – Individuals can also use the app to check in at local businesses for a chance to earn points and be entered to win prizes like shopping sprees, trips and high-tech gear.

Favorites – Users have the ability to create and save a list of favorite local businesses for future reference.

Mail – An application mailbox system provides users with personal notifications for their accounts.

Platforms – For the launch, we had to ensure versions of the app were available for both iPhone and Android phone users (with a Windows 8 version to come later).

Despite the complex challenges posed by that feature list, in the end, we managed to develop and launch a user-ready application that effectively represents the brand and puts the key benefits of membership right up front. The final product speaks for itself—as does the Gold Addy it received.

4 Important Lessons on Mobile App Development

Each mobile app idea brings with it a unique set of challenges. Certainly, Unite This City was no different. But there are some important takeaways from the development of this application that are relevant to developing any mobile app. So keep these lessons in mind when you develop your mobile application idea:

1.   Branding is essential to mobile app success

Whether you’re developing a game or a business app, make sure you have strong branding to go behind it. We had to make sure the Unite This City brand came through loud and clear with this app in particular because people had to understand what they were being a part of and why it was so valuable. Always make sure your brand stands out in your mobile app.

2.   Simplicity should always be the goal

Even when you’re dealing with a complex set of capabilities (as we were with Unite This City), take great pains to make the app as simple and intuitive to use as possible. People want easy with their mobile apps, not something they have to “figure out” how to use. One thing we did with Unite This City was add a little roving arrow to the app main screen to remind people of and explain all the features present.

3.   Release a solid first version of your app

Oftentimes, individuals or organizations just want to get the app out there so they rush through development, skimp on testing and release a subpar first version. That’s a mistake. While the first version of your mobile app doesn’t have to be perfect, it has to be good enough to hook users. Because, chances are, if someone tries your app once and doesn’t like it, they will not give it another shot later. There are too many other apps out there.

4.   Connecting a website to your app adds value

Unite This City is a mobile application with a correlating website to go with it. Since this is a membership-driven mobile app, the website serves an important function. But a connected website for any mobile app is always a good thing to have. It can provide legitimacy and supporting information for your app, and even help introduce people to your app. The Unite This City website solidifies the brand and includes a quick video on the benefits of using the app.  

UniteThisCity_WebsiteScreen

Mold Your Mobile App to Make a Monster Impact

With the amount of eyeball time we give smartphones these days, a mobile application can put your idea in the hands of a lot of people. But as the number of apps available continues to grow by Bigfoot proportions, it’s more important than ever to produce high-quality, highly useable apps that stand out from the crowd. Subpar apps just don’t cut it anymore. Invest the necessary time, testing and tweaking to make your mobile app not just good but golden.

Have an idea for a mobile app? Talk to the creative humans at MONSTERS Unlimited today to see how we can help you bring your mobile application roaring to life. 

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