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The Importance Of User Testing In Mobile App Development

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in app development, design, marketing, new product development, user experience, user testing | Posted on 15-12-2011

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The Importance Of User Testing In Mobile App Development

The Importance Of User Testing In Mobile App Development

 

A reference tool that helps people navigate out of harms way

We’ve finished user-testing and we’re about to launch our first app: a learning and reference tool that helps people navigate out of harms way by avoiding potential collisions on the sea. It helps people learn and understand the International Maritime Organisation’s navigation lights and shapes and the collision regulations (ColRegs)

It’s better than flash cards, less weighty than a book and the simple in-app navigation means that users can pinpoint the shape, light and rule quickly by referring to the menus and graphics. Users that tested the app have been very positive about their experience using it and have pointed out some improvements that we’ve acted on.

 

You don’t need an app for that

A colleague of mine, a journalist working in publishing, always says, when the subject is apps: “you don’t need an app for that.” “You need a mobile something but not an app – perhaps an m-site, because it’s more dynamic”. But in our case users will not be opening emails and reading sites on their mobile phones at sea.

Who is your target audience?

Another colleague in media production that I’ve always admired always asks “who is your target audience and what are their mobility characteristics and needs?”

At iGlimpse we’ve spoken to our target groups, analysed their lives, reading activity, their use of technology and we’ve developed mobile apps that embrace the concept of “dead time”.

We’ve developed our first few apps to allow our users to dip in and out of the subject matter at will, on a need-to-know basis.

Talking To App Users

Talking to our app users we discovered that they do not know that they need something until they need it and, therefore, their search for information most often happens on the spur of the moment. That made us realise that our apps needed to be part of their daily lives, in their pockets, ready to fire up anytime, any place.

ColRegs NavLights is simple and it can be dipped into and is ideal for “reading-on-the-go“.

What if we had not spoken to our users?

If we’d not researched our users’ needs carefully at the outset, attended shows, met with users, talked to trainers and tested the apps online via beta and with survey monkey, I think we’d have defaulted and done something similar to what we had previously done for 20 years: shoved in as much as possible between the back and front cover of a book to give it the pagination and thickness needed to justify the £25 price point.

Being able to see how mobile devices serve a very different purpose to other media has meant that we’ve avoided many mistakes we might have made if we’d followed our instincts.

What about app pricing? 

As far as pricing is concerned, we had to price competitively and in accordance with our audience. It’s a fact that people will spend hours evaluating a £1.99 app then go and spend £2.50 on a very mediocre cup of coffee. So we spent time positioning ourselves in the competitive landscape, looking at generic media and direct competition on the app store. We hope we’ve got the price right but only a solid number of adoptions and some positive recommendations will prove whether or not that is the case.
If you’d like more information on our apps, please contact us here and we’ll send you a notifications.

iGlimpse: eight reasons to love iPhone and iPad

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in app development, IOS, new product development, user experience | Posted on 27-03-2011

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At iGlimpse our clients and partners frequently ask us why we’re so keen on Apple.

This is largely because our focus on IOS helps us hone the categories we publish into as well as select the brand partners we work with.

But there are also 8 other good reasons for loving Apple IOS:

1. Kids love ‘em

Kids love Apple
Kids love Apple – credit Paul Mayne Flickr

Kids worship Macs, iPods, iPhones and the iPad. We’re witnessing a generation shift to Macs.

Not just kids; all age groups including silver surfers are switching to the sleek silver aluminium cased objects at school and at home and as they discover the wonderfully intuitive software that lives on them and allows them to be digital wizards.

The hardware and applications are the drivers of such rapid growth in Mac users. The last quarter saw Apple set a new record of 3.47 million macs sold in the quarter with a growth rate of 33% over the prior year’s quarter.

The next-generation of Mac buyers are also iPhone and iPad users because everything that is Mac is researched and integrates so intuitively.

2. The App Store

Apple has the largest direct-to-consumer customer base in the world. And although the payment processing channels are still controlled by the credit cards and PayPal, changes are afoot with the arrival of Near Field Communication (NFC) which will allow Apple to build yet closer relations with its customers. We like businesses that build proximity with their customers and Apple has proven their attention to customer service throughout time.

3. The iPad

The photo below was taken in Exeter Shopping Centre, a sleepy town in South Devon, UK, on Friday 25 March 2011 which wad iPad 2 global launch day. When I Tweeted the photo, a local businessman responded by saying half his workforce was in the queue!

People queue for iPad 2 outside Exeter Apple Store Friday 25 March 2011
People queue for iPad 2 outside Exeter Apple Store Friday 25 March 2011

The desire and kudos of iPads is already famed, both on a personal and institutional level.  Last Spring the market predicted Apple would sell 1 to 4 million iPads in 2010.  Actual sales registered 15 million iPads making it the fastest growing consumer product of all time!

iPad Sales Momentum vs other Consumer Electronic Product Launches
iPad Sales Momentum vs other Consumer Electronic Product Launches

This year, the market expects Apple to sell 30 million iPad 2s rising to 60 million in 2014.

Apple will sell 60 Million iPads over the next 3 years
Apple will sell 60 Million iPads over the next 3 years

All this is good news for iGlimpse because people are spending money on iPhone and iPad Apps. In fact,  the average top-25 iPad app ($5.03) costs 3X more than an iPhone app ($1.55) and there are 65,000 iPad apps on the App Store.

Now consider this: there are over 100 million books referenced on Amazon. So you can see the growth potential.

4. Soon everyone who wants an iPhone will own one

Apple has just launched a series of TV ads in the US that are aimed at people who’ve never owned an iPhone. The ads explain how users can use their iPod on their phone. They are selling the $49 version of the iPhone 3GS at AT&T (T).

Apple’s future pricing strategy can only go one way and this will be a major threat to Android because unlike Apple, Android users have little brand loyalty and will quickly upgrade to an iPhone when they can afford one. Watch this space as the Apple competitive pricing battle gets underway.

5. More Apple mobile devices means more Apple iPhone / iPad Apps

In January 2010 Apple announced that 3 billion apps had been downloaded in the 18 months following the launch of the AppStore. ABI Research predicts growth in App downloads is set to continue over the next 4-5 years:

IOS Downloads will grow
IOS Downloads will grow

6. Each IOS mobile device has an average 60 Apps on it

In January Asymco.com calculated that 60 apps have been downloaded for every iOS device. This means that IOS Apps reached 10 billion downloads in less than half the time it took songs to reach the same number on iTunes (31 vs 67 months.)

Perhaps more amazing still is the same study shows apps to be running at above 30 million downloads per day with downloads increasing in line with the growth in the installed base of devices which is increasing at the same rate.

7. iPhone and iPad users love Sport and The Great Outdoors

Sport is a healthy category as this app category graph from Nielsen shows.

Sport: a healthy category with iPhone / iPad users
Sport: a healthy category with iPhone / iPad users

The data justifies our decision to start developing apps for the leisure marine sector where we found few good apps being offered and where we now have 3 water sport apps in development and ready for sponsorship ahead of the UK Olympic Games in 2012.

8. Chinese consumers love Apple

At iGlimpse, we’re also focused on geographic territories, something our international sales and marketing experience taught us whilst working at Dorling Kindersley.

China has huge potential for IOS apps in the categories we’re developing such as Golf.

We’re confident Chinese people will adopt iPhones and iPads because Apple’s four Chinese stores have the highest traffic and highest revenue of any stores across the entire company including New York, London, Paris and Tokyo. The future for Apple, IOS, iGlimpse and its brand partners looks bright.

We’re interested in hearing from brands with a stake in the outdoor leisure sector seeking ways to enhance their customer experience and capitalise on mobile app marketing.