I found this cover graphic that someone had posted previously on Twitter. I’m sure there’s a trademark for Nintendo and I don’t claim ownership to any bit (or 8-bit) of that graphic. However, that one picture made more sense to me than all the sales pitches I have heard in the past couple of years. If it doesn’t resonate with you, you missed out on the 90’s Nintendo craze.
My career has been a lucky one because I have been able to experience a wide range of roles that include software development, technical marketing, product marketing and product management. These roles have all led me to my current position, directing an amazing engineering team. When information comes in from all those positions, it’s easy to lose track of the most important question…”Who do your users become when they use your app?”
When your heads down, plugged in and deeply developing off the roadmap you have in front of you, it’s easy to lose track of the experience the end user will have with new developments in technology. In today’s world you move so fast and releasing so frequently that the end user can become overwhelmed with the sheer fact that while the new features are cool, it’s just too much too soon. Simplicity is lost and the time it takes to get trained up on all the new features makes the user feel left behind. And now you’ve lost your most precious asset, a user.
So how do you prevent this from happening? You have to slow down, in order to speed up. It’s not a simple task but a very important one to keep in mind during all stages of development. With every new feature you plan to develop and put out in the field always answer these three questions:
- “Who is the user of this feature?”
- “Who does my user become by using this feature?”
- “Do they become a better version of themselves by using it?”
By answering these three questions, you make it very clear what features are critical, what are important, and what can go back in the parking lot. From concept to release, in order to ensure your experience is consistent with the story it is supposed to tell, these three questions need to be answered at all levels of planning.
All apps want to be “sticky”. Each feature needs to add value to the experience or it’s just adding to the noise of every other app competing for screen space and user attention. What amount of data are you conveying to the user? Is it enough? Not enough? Just right? What causes the user to constantly want to check for updates? Is it critical for their job or task at hand? Do they use it daily or just when major events happen? Common sense will tell you that if a user finds daily value in your app, it’s second nature when they need to use it in a major event.
At SceneDoc, we use these three questions to better understand who our users are and what they are trying to accomplish. From simple checklists that are performed daily to documenting complex Incident Command responses for large scale, multi-agency deployments, SceneDoc is disrupting the market through “dematerialization” and simplifying the processes our users interact with on a daily basis, For critical tasks, SceneDoc provides immediate availability of information to make these incidents easy to capture, update and share with any user, any time, anywhere.
I recently had the opportunity to give a talk at APCO 2015 in Washington D.C entitled “When Heroes Become Superheroes Using Apps”. The presentation covered all the basic principles and guidelines on what to look for in a quality application. I have had some experience with this having evaluated hundreds of apps at Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions over the past decade. You get a good sense of what a good app has to offer and what the not so good apps don’t have to offer.
My premise for giving this talk was not a sales pitch for SceneDoc but rather I wanted to get a message across to the agencies and organizations in attendance that each of them is sitting on a goldmine of information each app developer is looking to tap into. I go into detail about all the technical items agencies should be looking for and what security, stability and storage options they should look for as well. I covered many items from basic understanding to more complex, lower level interfaces to insist upon for easy integration to their existing infrastructure.
In today’s fast paced development world, everyone is competing for the ever-shrinking budgets out there, scurrying to get those users right now. But it’s the applications that allow their users to become a better version of themselves that are going to win every time. It’s not good enough to be the standalone hot thing right now; app developers have to be the hot thing your customers can integrate and evolve with over the next 2, 5, even 10 years in order to make a user’s investment worthwhile. Applications aren’t the ends that meet the needs; apps are the enablers that allow an agencies users to become super users. Make sure your app is one your users can rely on to 1-UP their game.
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