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How to Create a Business App Customers Will Love

Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber

10 entrepreneurs from YEC share their best tips for creating an engaging business app.

With the advent of apps like Uber, users are growing accustomed to having a wide variety of functions available at the tap of their fingers. The limits to what can be achieved with apps are set only by time, demand and the imagination — so there is plenty of space ahead for companies to isolate a problem, then offer a clever solution.

But how do companies design apps that consumers can't resist using? What functions attract users, and what seemingly cool features can turn them away from an otherwise elegant solution?

Below, 10 members from YEC isolate what features or design philosophies attract users to a particular program.

1. Integrate It With Other Well-Known Apps

Getting an app to be successful is no easy task. I believe a great idea for new apps would be to create them so they are used in conjunction with other apps. For example, Uber doesn't have a tipping option. Creating an app that tips the driver would be a great idea, as it would piggyback off of the success of Uber. It's all about finding where there's something missing and going for it. - Volkan Okay Yazici, Stonexchange

2. Give Your App Character

Until a few years ago, business apps have felt soulless. More recently, I've seen very successful companies like Gusto and Slack that buck the trend by adding character, often via just-for-fun tidbits or the use of informal system messages. Ease of use is still king, but that is easier said than done. Giving your app a human element is free and might put a smile on a user's face. - Kevin Yamazaki, Sidebench

3. Design for High-Use Customers

Visualize who you’re designing this app for during every step of the creation process. Instead of thinking about the general public, keep your high-usage customers in mind. The two audiences have very different needs, and designing for the incorrect audience may hinder your app from the start. - Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors

4. Establish Habit Loops

The best consumer apps create habits and rewards for certain behavior. This same approach should be taken with business apps. There needs to be an external trigger that brings the customer into the app and then creates a sense of accomplishment for doing certain actions within the app. - Ryan Shank, PhoneWagon

5. Improve Users' Efficiency

It must be able to do something more efficiently than you’d be able to do otherwise. Why would anyone use a business app that slows down their work or doesn’t do anything to speed it up? You must think carefully about what your value proposition is and why your consumers are going to use your app. - Ismael Wrixen, FE International

6. Understand Your Ideal Customer

Too often, founders move forward with creating a product and app that no one wants to use. How does this happen? They did not learn what their customers want. Getting into the head of your ideal customer and understanding who they are on a detailed level is the only way to create a great business app. - Jennifer Mellon, Trustify

7. Provide a Frictionless Experience

Keep it simple. This is perhaps the most obvious advice, but we've all encountered apps that are rampant with functionality issues and unclear user pathways. Even if an app is only offering partial functionality of your full site, a frictionless, user-friendly mobile experience is key to returning usership. After all, it's not just about downloads. - Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile

8. Give Them a Feeling of More Control

One of the best things you can do is make an app that gives consumers the feeling they have more control. With so much going on in their lives, it's easy to lose control over everything, so any app that puts the power back in their hands is a good sell. - Drew Hendricks, Buttercup

9. Solve a Daily Problem

Build something that solves a real problem that others have, preferably one that they encounter daily. A good starting point is to look at your own daily routine and see if there are particular pain points that could be made better by a product — the idea would be one that simplifies or improves part of your daily experience. Then see if others face similar challenges in their daily lives. - Marcelino Alvarez, Uncorked Studios

10. Answer Why Users Should Care

One of Charlie Munder's causes of human misjudgment is, "Failure to obtain deserved influence caused by not properly explaining why?" Many startups have brilliant apps with great functionality and fantastic UX. They never take off because they fail to tell users why they should care. All written copy must clearly answer "why?" e.g. Why should I care? Why should I use this? Why should I pay? - Andrew Gowasack, Trust Stamp

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber,
business.com Writer
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Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Gerber is also a serial entrepreneur, regular TV commentator and author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job.