So, you have decided to join the over 1 million apps out there, and develop a new app for your event. Great, but how do you get started? Here are a few things to consider when you are developing your app.
What are you trying to solve?
The app you develop should actually solve something your mobile website cannot. Whether it is having up-to-date agenda info, push notifications on relevant information, or quickly being able to connect attendees with each other or conference materials, the app should provide a solution to an issue in your event. Your app should act as your go-between to assist and make things more convenient for your attendees.
What will it look like?
One consideration that sometimes gets glossed over is the visual/branding of your mobile app. This is a valuable piece of real estate, so don't squander your graphics with either too much simplicity or too much graphical content. You don't need a bare bones type of an app, but nor do you need something that is so graphically intense you need a powerful WiFi connection to download all the images.
How will it function?
The best way to work through how your app will function is to make a list of the top functionalities you think are powerful, either from another app or a mobile website. From those, you should start to see patterns to incorporate (such as drop down boxes, easy to navigate browsers or ways to attach documents or share contact info). And nothing replaces beta testing with your target audience. Be ready to take any comments or criticisms to heart. After all, if your end user can't navigate your app, they will not use it. In your target audience, be sure to test both iPhone and Android, as there can be differences or kinks in one versus the other, and can affect your design.
One last note - apps should be like all of your digital content. They should be tested, monitored, and reviewed (at least annually) to make sure they are functioning for exactly what your attendees need. Keep in mind that can easily change over the course of a year. Be sure to check out my future blog post on a check list to decide when your app is getting old and needs some updating.