There are millions of apps in existence. Humanity collectively installed 37 billion apps in the first quarter of 2022 alone, spending a jaw-dropping $33 billion in the process.
Suffice it to say consumers have gone the way of the app — and businesses are following suit. In fact, most companies have an app. They’re used for various purposes, from making sales to customer service to internal communications and more.
While companies aren’t shying away from investing in apps, few leaders consider how important these apps, and specifically their design and function, can be to the future of their enterprises. Here are a few of the ways app design can not just influence but change the entire trajectory of a business.
Everyone wants their businesses to grow. Apps provide a central hub where that growth can generate and percolate across a brand.
The popular online workspace app Slack is a good example of this. In a super crowded space they were able to stand out from the crowd due to the design of their product. Slack immediately looked and felt different from the typical corporate chat tools available.
The product team that helped Slack launch, MetaLab, says their goal was to get people talking about Slack with their friends at the bar and to reshape the way people viewed corporate software. That virality paid off as this allowed Slack to gain massive growth post launch with little to no marketing spend. Today, you can walk into just about any office or coffee shop and you’ll see that purple glow or hear the sound of Slack’s ding as messages arrive.
When you consider app design as early as possible, it creates a central point where you can codify your brand’s creative expression and use it to influence further areas of growth.
A decade ago, the ability to build a website gave even the smallest brands instant accessibility to a massive online audience. As with any area of business, those with the best sites often garnered the most attention, traffic, and success, too.
In 2023, websites have taken a back seat to mobile apps. A business with an app that features a superior design can attract new customers. This puts them into the pocket of the company’s target audience and creates instant customer accessibility in the process.
In addition, apps allow companies to maintain accessibility over time. For instance, even larger in-store retailers leaned on their apps to adapt to the restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
Primarily brick-and-mortar operations like Target and Walmart cultivated apps that could maintain the customer experience while observing social distancing. Many of these continue to facilitate both online and in-store experiences, integrate shopping history, provide digital wallets with coupons and payment methods, and so on.
An attractive, well-designed app gives you ongoing access to an audience that isn’t possible with other communication options.
The ability to connect directly to consumers via a device that they use hundreds of times each day opens the door for endless innovation. Often, this leads to positive change, from contactless payments to scheduled pickups and easy return policies.
However, it’s worth noting that a creative app design can also negatively affect the trajectory of a business. One example is Wegmans. The northeast supermarket chain created a self-checkout app to help with contactless shopping during the pandemic. By mid-2022, it had halted this initiative, citing too many losses as a result of the new design.
This serves as a warning. But it doesn’t subvert the positive creative power that good app designs generally offer. In most cases, the creativity ends well — and can even redefine a business’s trajectory in the process.
From driving homogeneous growth to providing ongoing customer accessibility to promoting creative solutions, app design can have a transformative influence on how a business operates. The first step in this transformation, though, is the willingness of leadership to acknowledge the latent power that their apps have if they simply take their design seriously.
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