Mobile App Anxiety

Nathan Imperiale

Category: Development

06.07.2011

If you’re like me, you download apps whenever there is the slightest chance they could be interesting or useful. However, once downloaded they end up going into a black hole on my iPhone due to the fact that they either aren’t useful, they suck or I forget that I have them. Inevitably, this has led to clutter on my mobile devices and an increased level of anxiety in my life; yes, I lie awake at night worrying about things like this. What’s more, I know I’m not alone.

I have tried a variety of techniques to overcome this disparity in my life. I create folders on my phone and categorize my apps by type. That has sufficiently cut down on clutter. However, that has not increased my use of apps that I don’t have a need for on a daily basis. Thus, a more drastic course of action was necessary. This led me to develop a list of rules that apps must meet before they are downloaded:

1. All Apps Must Serve a Purpose – I know, this seems like an obvious statement. After all, who would download apps that aren’t useful in any way? The truth is, a lot of apps we use once or twice before they’re doomed to the aforementioned black hole. Which apps stand the test of time? The ones that actually entertain us, inform us, engage us and help us keep organized.

2. Be Clean – Once you’ve figured out your app’s purpose, remove any widget or facet that does not directly help your app achieve your goal. Visual clutter or a muddled interface can kill what would otherwise be a wonderful product.

3. Find the Right Platform – As much as some apps may have crossover appeal between the iPad and the iPhone – Angry Birds for everybody! – the truth is that usually there’s a dominant platform from which an app will derive the most utility. Find which platforms fit with which apps and download accordingly. We don’t need to be digital hoarders with copies of every app on every device.

4. Think Beyond the Screen Directly in Front of You – As much as some mobile apps are fun, we must ask of each app how large its reach is. For social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, apps turn mobile devices into remote controls for our digital lives. Look for apps that can extend beyond the device in your hand and impact innumerable other media elsewhere.

Adherence to these rules is yet another of my OCD traits that influences the way we do business here at NJI. Whenever we work with clients to develop a mobile app, we follow the guidelines above. Our goal is always to ensure that every app we build is not only effective but completely true to its original purpose. We don’t care about gimmicks or flashy presentation. We care about proven results.

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