How To Create The Perfect iPad App
Designing an iPad app for a media publication is not a case of simply replicating what’s online or mobile and moving it onto the iPad. If publishers are making a conscious decision to take their readers on a digital journey by introducing social media, interactive content, rich media and a wealth of other features, they need to get it spot on.
A good place to start is to look at how people access content on the web and the ways in which they interact with different types of mobile content. That way, you can start to see the different styles of reading and the content that readers expect on different devices. At the forefront of a publishers’ mind must be how to create a different version of the content that currently exists, that will offer readers a unique experience.
Synchronous media use
From our research, we know that the iPad is used mainly in the mornings and evenings, in conjunction with other media – something we call synchronous media use. Taking this into account, publishers need to think about how their app can enhance the reader’s media consumption habit. If I’m watching the Ryder Cup or the FA Cup Final, can my sports iPad app enable me to have a conversation with like-minded fans? Can it provide real-time analysis? It’s additional extras like this that augment a user’s viewing experience and make the app a worthwhile investment. Think of a decent iPad app as your friend sitting next to you in the pub.
Similarly, knowing how long users tend to spend on an iPad is incredibly insightful. TigerSpike research has shown that users tend to spend between 30 – 40 minutes a day browsing on the iPad. That gives publishers a far longer window than the average internet browsing session. With this knowledge in mind, publishers can start the app design process. Here are a few pointers…
Design: Don’t launch an app for the sake of launching an app. Take a step back and think about what the standout feature of the app will be. What do you want readers to think when they use your app? When you’ve got this, move on to the solution.
User interface: You simply can’t pass go unless you have this right. The publishers that have a brilliantly designed app that’s intuitive to the touch and offers the best user experience will be the ones that succeed.
Speed: If an app feels slow and takes an age to load, users will give up. Similarly, if pages crash, don’t appear on the screen in the right format, or take more than an instant to appear, users will go elsewhere.
Utility: If an app provides some sort of purpose - for example, a magazine that provides live stock and share updates, an app that gives real time location sensitive information, or a city guide that’s completely contextually aware of your surroundings – people are far more likely to come back to it time and time again.
Rich content: Offering completely new and unique content that can’t be accessed anywhere else is a great draw. Content works better if it is curated specifically for the device, rather than lifted from another medium.
Location: More and more media owners are starting to think about how content can be accessed in a location- and time-specific way. Think city guides that can tell you places of interest nearby, and content that is updated at certain points throughout the day.
It’s about the difference
Above all, great app design is all about difference. What is going to make it stand out? Whether this be an interactive quiz, the speed it takes to access content, the calibre of journalists who contribute, or location-aware technology, publishers need to put their efforts into the one feature that will make users download the app and come back to it time and time again. Get this right and the rest will follow.
Nic Newman is managing director of personal media company, TigerSpike