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Archive for May 2011

5 Interesting Observations about Usability &App Sales

Do users turn a blind eye to mobile design if they really love the brand?  According to a EffectiveUI study, no.  The majority of users chose superior experience design over brand loyalty.  To survive and thrive in the ever-increasing app landscape, companies must maintain a relentless focus on their unique brand attributes, and deliver an experience that passes the "who cares?" test.  Apps with high usability and sales:

1.  Communicate value in an emotionally engaging way:  functionality should reinforce a company's brand positioning and be consistent with how the business presents itself in other media.

2.  Deliver value by offering useful, usable function:  sites that don't support consumer goals frustrate and annoy visitors, and those negative emotions transfer over to the brand.

3.  The apparent failing of application design in part due to an added pressure from the C-suite to simply have a mobile app:  some apps are simply not necessary, and while first-adopters might purchase them, word-of-mouth spreads quickly and sales will fall off drastically (along with brand reputation).

4.  Users will not tolerate apps that are slow to open or operate:  speed is even more important for apps than it is for web sites.


5.  Users are more likely to download an app based on recommendations:  companies will have to push the envelope and go farther afield to enlighten, engage, and differentiate to garner those coveted recommendations.

CONCLUSION?  User expectations define the user experience.  "Don't beat me over the head with a useless app, and don't waste your time trying to 'sell' me on why I need it," is clearly the message from users to brands looking to connect on mobile devices.

"Yes, recommendations from others do matter, so don't try to skate by with mediocre design." According to a new survey from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 35% of adults have cell phones with apps, but only two-thirds of those who have apps actually use them.  Rather than concluding that app adoption is low, we would propose that unused apps simply are not delivering value, utility, usability or a meaningful experience to the user.

While every article we read and metric we watch shows a widening embrace of all kinds of apps by a widening population, what we're seeing in the app story is the early stages of the classic tech adoption story.  Agencies interested in developing apps should recognize that app purchase and use, for now, is contained to a core group of cell phone users (18- to 29-year-olds make up half of all adult app users).  But, that will surely change in the future, with many in the tech industry hailing apps as "the new revolution."



Let's Go for Another SPIN

Being featured for the fifth time, we are so pleased that we're blushing over SPIN Play in the iTunes iPad App Store.

For any music lover who doesn't have this FREE app, why not?!?!  Thank you ALL who are downloading our work because we love making great apps!


Big Brothers Big Sisters: Our Charity Selection for May 2011

Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star is the largest Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in the world.  As a donor-supported volunteer youth and mentoring organization, our program has been placing caring adults in the lives of children in one-to-one mentoring relationships since 1927.

Through the positive impact of those relationships, children with a Big Brother or Big Sister are more likely to graduate from high school and are less likely to begin using drugs, alcohol, or engage in negative conflict.

It all started in 1927, when the growing number of boys passing through the Juvenile Court System in Dallas County inspired the humble beginnings of the nation’s largest Big Brothers Big Sisters agency.  In 1926, Ms. Jessie A. White, a young probation officer of the Dallas Juvenile Court, was distraught at the futures that awaited the boys filing through the court system.  “When a child is brought to us there are only two things to do with him,” she said. “We can send him to the reform school or we can send him back to the same conditions from which he came.”

What these boys need is “a friend that the boy can count on, who can give him the feeling that some one is especially interested in him.”  Upon this realization, Ms. White took a step which would forever change the futures of North Texas children.

One of our best Project Managers, Sevilla Garza, nominated Big Brothers Big Sisters this month and is an active participant as a "Big" for BBBS her in North Texas.  "Going on two years now, my 9 year old 'Little' and I have done some great activities all around the DFW Metroplex, and all thanks in part to donations which fund the organization." Sevilla says, "My Little has made such a large impact on my life... the bigger picture to all this is knowing the positive impact I have on her future just being around for her to lean on."

[caption id="attachment_3898" align="aligncenter" width="580" caption="Sevilla (on right) and her "Little""][/caption]




Bottle Rocket Family Picnic 2011

This past Saturday, May 21st, the Bottle Rocket family hosted the rest of our families for an afternoon "Calling All Super Heroes" and filled with bounce-houses, caricature drawings, flip book making, cape-wearing, tattoo-getting, hamburger-eating fun complete with all the "Bottle Rocket Red Velvet" cupcakes we could stand!

















In case you want to get a panoramic view of the happenings, check us out here and here.

A HUGE thank you goes to Julie L. Nelson at Meeting Muse for making our afternoon a Super Hero Sized Success!


What are the Top 5 Questions in Mobile?

1.  Who is in charge?

Creating and executing on a mobile strategy will take resources from many internal departments – technology, design, sales, and content – and perhaps external partners.   As with any business initiative, to be successful you need one individual anointed as the product champion to have the oversight of your mobile strategy and drive its success.  This person must have executive support and the ability to pull the collective resources together to drive everyone in the same direction.

2.  What are your BUSINESS goals?

Here at Bottle Rocket, the most common thing we hear from potential clients is, "We gotta have an app... like, yesterday."  And our response is always the same:  What is your goal?  What is the business purpose for your app?  You can't just take your web site and turn it into an app.  No one cares.

Is the goal to expand your reach and engage an audience through multiple channels, or is there a revenue target?  A clearly articulated business strategy utilizing mobile tactics will make sure you are all moving in the same direction. Creating apps can have a large upfront expense, and be a resource drain to keep updated.  However, if you have sound business reasons behind your development it will be easier to measure your success.

3.  What do your customers want?

Mobile is all about getting value "right now." What is it that your customers are seeking at that very moment?  What is the information they want, that you can serve up with the immediacy they expect on a mobile device?  Don't underestimate the importance of the user's experience.  A user's experience with your brand on mobile is increasingly becoming one of the most important brand experiences.  Don't undercut the user.  They'll notice for sure.

4.  Will tablets follow smartphones to the mass market?

As Gen Y and the ones behind them grow up, will desktops and laptops go the way of the mainframe?  No one really knows where the tablet market is likely to take us and as a result, a lot of people are trying to guess.  One thing is for sure.  The tablet is a major part of the relentless movement of devices that fit into our lives more seamlessly.  Earlier this year, NPD Group threw out one of the biggest numbers yet... an estimate of more than 242 million tablets by 2015.  Do we think it’s possible?  Absolutely.  Do we know for sure that it will happen in 2015?  Not quite.  But, we're already seen the iPad replace the laptop of the connected C-suite executive on the go.  That's why as soon as we've finalized an iPhone/Android device app for our clients, the iPad experience is the next app we deliver.  Part of the fun right now is trying to determine exactly where this tsunami of new technology will take us.

5.  How can the company make money with the app?

At first glance, the reaction is an obvious, "Well, charge for the app."  However, deeper thought reveals more strategic and longer term options.  For example, there are creative ways to "pull" your audience into your brand experience by using iTunes in-app purchase and offering exclusive, premium content inside the app.  And, there are of course, many advertising options.  There are plenty of mobile ad networks out there, but chances are high that you will generate nominal revenues at the cost annoying your users.  However, if your app has a strong local, geo-located brand presence, local ads rock.  Users love these and local businesses will easily pay for the exposure.

Obviously, five is not the total number of questions to ask in the entire mobile industry landscape, and we've just touched the surface on these topics.  As 2011 continues to unfold, Apple releases its next iPhone, Android unleashes updated developer guidelines, and all the device makers rush to create the next big consumer hit in time for Christmas, we'll enjoy revisiting and updating the next set of questions to ponder.








Recent News

One of Bottle Rocket Apps' latest applications has given a fast-food bird some new wings.

Chick-fil-A's latest version of its mobile app, released last week for iOS, allows customers to order and pay via their smartphone. The app allows customers to use the new features at more than 130 locations, with more expected to roll out in 2015.

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