Birds of a feather flock together

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Birds of a feather flock together. Every now and then you are bound to meet some one that would fascinate you, bring out a really good conversation or doing the thing you do most. That said, we now have a social app that is predominantly programmed to link you up with people who share the same interest as you or I would say, someone speaking your lingo. LikeMind, as the name implies, does this purpose of linking people who are interested in the topics shared and aims to pull the crowds together. Unlike most other social apps, they do engage but not targeted solely at building interest groups. LikeMind is going to be available by this week and with an aim to bond the people near you by giving them the opportunity to do so. Great idea isn’t it?

Let’s just assume the app works pretty much like an ad posting site. You could post a “flyer” on your on board and this virtual board serves as a means for people to locate you. Interestingly, on each flyer there would be six tabs where people could tear it off and use it as a means to contact you. Just like what you would experience in real life, you get to do so here virtually. This allows people to contact you and not flood you with overwhelming response. I pretty much love the idea of simulating real life experience on the virtual space. The great thing about these tabs is that it allows people to contact you and strike a conversation. The flyers are probably the main idea for interaction for the app but it does boost it’s capability to strike meaningful conversations rather than apps which mainly allows you to just browse the pictures or profiles of people you dont know. Which is kind of like stalking or weird?

Some of the other issues I believe for a new startup app is that it has a generally small groups of people populating the app database. While it is still in it’s infancy, the app’s potential for linking people with similar interests is one powerful aspect of online social interaction that is noteworthy. On top of that, LikeMind offers a set of full functionality that grants you features like flyer targeting, pinboard filtering and even image sharing. These could all be unlock with LikeMind points. However, it would cost you $3 to open up some of these premium offerings. While it isn’t a lot of money, my only concern is charging for premium services during an app’s infant stage but rather, aim to stabilize and perfect the system. And through updates later on, implement premium services accompanied by monetary charges.

I do hope to see more and more people trying this app and learn the development and progress for the app’s product cycle. Ideally, the app would change the way we make friends and understand each other through it’s more targeted online social interaction platform.

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The Making of our part

I remembered the time when I had an opportunity to work with a client who is running a vegan business. He is one with a huge love for nature and a great vision to realize the need to keep sustainability for mother earth. There are tons of opportunities for us to do our part in helping to shape mother nature. Today, sportswear company Nike is taking up this role by means of a mobile app, Making. It is a free app which provides details of the sustainability for all the clothing materials relevant for your making. Nike has placed sustainable design as one of their top priority and has since developed a very extensive databse of materials over the course of eight years.

I personally love the app interface and it’s simplistic design. There is a nice infographic touch to the way the information is communicated. Very interactive and comes with rather smooth navigation. Check it out.

Fly with that app!

Are you a frequent traveler? If you are one who travels often, then having a mobile app that enables you to evade the turmoils of last minute plane delays, wrong check-in points or hours of boring inflight entertainment would absolutely make your entire flight experience extremely enjoyable. Flying, a mobile app designed to make flight experience more fun and aims to provide entertaining yet useful information pertaining to all your travels.

The app aims to provide users with interesting features like the tracking of your flight schedule, delays, cancellations as well as gate changes. What is most interesting is how it incorporates social media into the entire user experience. It is now possible to share your flight experience, details and status with your friends. That includes the friends who are waiting for you upon your arrival or those sending you off. With cool graphical interfaces and interactive visual elements, the app boosts a very rich design aesthetic.

“Air travel has become cold and impersonal, and we think it’s really important to bring in something that is not only useful but which also helps better the experience,” co-founder tells Co.Design.

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On top of all the mentioned features, Flying also has it’s own set of unique “stamps” which aims to simulate real stamps that gets chomped on your passport as you travel. A great way to bring the real life experience online. Apart from all the available features, there is however a lack of interpersonal connectivity with strangers. Assuming you could get to know someone on the same flight as you? Could that possibly spark some kind of romance? Wouldn’t it be great to know who is sitting beside you before you board the plane? And possibly start some form of conversation with the person even before flight day? It would be so much more fun and exciting!

What makes a Good App?

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Coming out with a great app is never an easy task. Some of the factors involves great planning, beautiful aesthetics, great technology integration or even effective data analysis. Whichever the case, the context of mobile should always be of top priority. You need to understand the circumstances and the situation that your user will be in when he/she launches your app. By answering to their needs, you have half the battle won. I want to discuss some of the effective points to note when coming out with an effective mobile app.

1. Dont just duplicate your work in every channel with the same boring executions.
You realize that smartphones do have their technological advantages over desktops or tablets. And you really should be taking full advantage of that at your disposal. On mobile, there are many possible features like NFC (Near Field Communications),  location based services, sms push and maps. Consider their potential and use them for your marketing advantage. Don’t literally translate your web or online materials directly onto the phone when you have the luxury of an arsenal of tools. I mentioned before in an article with regards to in-store shopping (shopper marketing) where brands tap on sms marketing to send out relevant sms messages to targeted customers as well as providing customers with incentives through the use of phone features as a way to enhance the in-store user experience. One of the key combinations that I constantly brought out would be the use of mobile with outdoor media. So it’s really important for businesses to take note that mobile usage is on the rise and it is not necessary at home but also very prevalent on outdoor usage these days.

 

2. Make your app easy to digest and modular
There are so many apps that are produced everyday. What makes your app so special? Is it the functions or is it the details? There is no clear answer to determine your ROI for this huge budget you set aside to develop the app. But one of the important points to remember is that a good app is normally easy and simple to use. That helps to let a new user pick up a trick or two and you then slowly interact and push more features to the user.

By modular, I believe your app has got to be structured in a way it allows a user to customize features that he likes. This gives him a sense of ownership and individualism. For example, I personally love Flipboard, an app which gives me my daily intake of creative juice. I get to see lovely artworks, magazine covers, furnitures and toys which I handpicked from my favorite list of news sources. That makes me want to share this unique list with my peers whom I know might also have a different unique list of daily inspirations. You want to design your app to be able to combine with different features and functions as well. And by features and functions, I really refer to those that would enrich or add value to the lives of the user. Examples of such apps would be banking apps that allows users to actually avoid the hassle of going to the bank by letting them handle their bank transactions on the go.

 

3. Make sure your app is not boring
As with most successful apps, they do not attempt to bore you down with pages of forms to fill. I could pretty much understand that in order for businesses to gather important information about their users, such details are needed. But you could do it in a subtle manner through small games or in-app features. Ensure that every step you take is cautious, taking your user’s experience as top priority rather than your desired goals. This will definitely give your users the eagerness to share the information that you want. Thus, avoid having your app downloaded and shortly later, getting trashed. A great app helps to keep the user captivated for as long as he/she wants. And the more you can provide for your user, the more he/she would revisit your app. Personally, I use SoundHound a lot when I’m driving because it helps me to recognize the music I’m listening to over the radio stations.

 

3. Help to enlist a user pattern to form new behaviors
You want to make it a habit for users to automatically launch your app the moment they have a decision to make in their minds. As people start to get really reliant on their mobile devices, they began to depend on the information they get from the app itself. Every time I plan to purchase a new LEGO set for investment, I will fire up my LEGO apps which provides me with the details of the new and upcoming sets. But the apps that would really help is definitely one that gives a foresight of the possible investment opportunities should I purchase that box set and how and where I should buy it from. That kind of information and features would add value to me that makes it inevitable for me every single time I place my decisions. Remember, more and more users are spending incredible amounts of time on retail apps before making the ‘right’ decisions. Another area to note would be transactional apps. These are potentially money-making apps that would influence a user to make a purchasing decision within the app itself. Direct marketing through apps would require an even stronger reason to believe functions and features to make the purchase possible.

 

4. Measurements of success
As with all marketing campaigns, you need to know the response and the results of the work you produced. You constantly receive requests from apps to update through the app store. Companies see the need to improve their apps to provide a better user experience. They learnt and understand what they might have missed from their previous implementations and improve on it. Practice makes perfect. With more fine tuning and tweaking, you can polish up your app to provide more for the users. Not only does this improves it’s features, we must also understand that apps are hosted by the mobile devices which are constantly changing in terms of technology and the operating systems that comes with it. Always making sure that your app stays current and compatible with these technology is vital to keep user experience optimal.

 

Throughout my career, I have developed quite a fair bit of apps for my clients and their businesses, and have seen the success that entails. Most of the them understands the core principles of making a good app as well as being receptive to the rapid changes in trends and technology. I believe a great app is one that requires great planning, client-agency relationships, functions&features, set of objectives, constant improvements and result analysis.