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Who says you’re any good?

thumbs_upI’ve been reading Andy’s post on “What makes good?” and it’s got me thinking about what or who determines whether something is “good”.

Andy’s post is a philosophy on how to make “good” apps. It’s a great post on the principle of having 80% practicality, 10% glamour and 10% character. Ideologically, this will provide you with an app that people will love and make you a multi-millionaire! However, it doesn’t always work out that way. We’ve seen it many times on Dragon’s Den where a young, hopeful entrepreneur presents their idea, only for the dragons to rip them apart and leave them empty-handed with their dreams in tatters……So who says it’s “good” – my argument is stress the importance of user-centred design.

Who holds the purse strings? Your wife, your boss, the queen? I work in part of a team that develop large scale websites for government organisations as well as advertisers with large budgets hoping to attract millions. The app / pitch can sometimes appear to be king. It’s what wins the client over and wins us contracts. However, that doesn’t always define your app as “good”,  just because the CEO of the company loves your app doesn’t mean Joe Bloggs who subscribes monthly and uses your app day-in day-out will too. If Joe Bloggs and countless others like him, hate your app and it flops……is your app still “good”.

Andy’s model sits perfectly in terms of assessing the values of the user. Ultimately, an app needs to work – 80% practicality. Too often products are thrown by the way side for not solving a problem or doing the job it was meant to do. This is particularly emphasised in our consumer culture today. The user’s value may indeed fluctuate between glamour/character and practicality as good marketing is always effective in blurring a user’s sense of need.

For an app to succeed, the user’s voice is priceless. An app will either thrive or dive by the user’s voice. This can be seen in Apple’s App Store. Angry Birds is currently no. 1 paid for app. This follows Andy’s model of 80% practicality – it’s essentially a great game. It’s engaging, not to difficult, but challenging enough to leave you wanting more. 10% glamour – it looks good, but more importantly it doesn’t distract from the game. The graphics don’t slow the game or make things difficult to see. 10% character – the birds are fun. There are talks of a TV series based on the strength of the characters in the game.

The user ratings and reviews for Angry Birds has propelled the app to the top of the store where it has sat for a good number of months. When making a transaction decision, advocacy is key. A recommendation from a friend, a high rating or positive feedback can carry a lot of weight for a user in whether to take the plunge with your app. Andy’s model is the foundation for creating a “good” app but ultimately the end user will decide whether the app is indeed good.

Hopefully, you’ll see the importance of valuing the user in every stage of the development of an app. User-centred design starts and ends at the user. It continually comes back to the issue of “who is this for?”, “what problem are we solving” etc. it uses usability testing to measure how we’re doing in the process, whether we’re still on track or veered way off course. It isn’t a launch and cross fingers….

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