Developing apps that add value to users isn’t an elusive art. It’s a science that helps improve the probability of success. Over the past few years, we’ve worked with a number of app makers, entrepreneurs and startups in Los Angeles that understand building a successful app is more than just writing code.

It’s difficult to distill the various variables that lead to the success of an app. Based on our experience as app makers, here’s some insight into what differentiates great apps from good apps.

  1. Intuitive user experience and design
    Users should be able to quickly understand what your app does in under a minute of launching the app for the first time. You have a very short window of time to grab a user’s attention before they make a decision on whether they’ll use the app or not. Reduce the likelihood of a user leaving the app by quickly and clearly conveying your value proposition. Stick to human interface guidelines provided by Apple and Google to reduce the amount of time users need to get acclimated with your app’s design.
  2. Short on-boarding and easy sign up process
    Build on your intuitive user experience. Design an on-boarding flow that doesn’t require users to think too much about what your app does. Use graphics, animations, and simple phrases to make it easy for a prospective user to understand what your app does. Once a user decides to use your app, make the sign up process as frictionless as possible.
  3. Keep your app focused on solving a specific problem
    App makers should spend time figuring out how to dominate a niche market before expanding the product. Most great apps gain traction by picking a specific problem to solve and solving it really well. Adding too many features too early can make an app confusing and difficult to use. Define three core use cases for your app and focusing on making those experiences better than your competition.
  4. Continuously test and validate your assumptions
    Regularly watch people use your app. Observe (without interfering) to learn where they get stuck or confused. Understand why they were having trouble and fix the problem quickly. Following an iterative approach will help you incrementally improve your app and eventually appeal to a larger demographic of users.
  5. Stay adaptive and be ready to pivot
    Launching apps and capturing marketshare requires a lot of work. You need to study competitors and learn how they morph their product. Listen to your users, their insight is invaluable. If they prefer certain features more than others, focus on making those features better than any other app on the App Store or Play Store. Do all of this while keeping a close eye on user behavior. If people use a specific part of your app more than the rest of the app, start focusing on that module.
  6. Provide great customer service
    Make it easy for users to get in touch with you and spend time perfecting your customer service experience. Things will go wrong with your app. Users will get frustrated. Address their concerns and learn from what they tell you. Make sure a person answers their questions, not an automated customer service system. It will keep your users happy and provide you with a better understanding of your customer needs.
  7. Use emerging technologies to make your app experience even better
    Augmented reality and chatbots are helping app makers create experiences that are much more interactive. Using Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore, apps can provide users with a much more immersive experience for games, social, and consumer apps (read more about augmented reality here).

    Chatbots allow customers to use messaging platforms (text message, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, etc.) to engage with companies and brands. Chatbot apps are becoming more attractive to companies because they don’t require additional downloads or account registration. Customers can directly message a number or company and engage with brands. Chatbots allow businesses to send personalized notifications, content curated specifically for the user, or provide utility services (scheduling, reminders, etc.).

These tips should help kickstart your app. There’s no specific recipe for building a successful app. You need to spend time listening to you users and quickly making changes that reflect their needs.