A look at how some apps achieved success

What is the formula for a successful app? This is, of course, a question without an answer, since if there were such a formula, then everybody who launched an app would be able to use it. The truth is that there is no prescribed method for success when it comes to debuting an app. That said, there are definitely some key themes that run through virtually every mega-popular app out there. By highlighting the stories of how some different apps found their success, we will seek to identify these different components of great results, in the hope of showing how although there may not be a formula to making a great app, there are definitely some key ingredients that you are advised to use.

Ingredient 1: The big new thing (Instagram)
Everybody knows about it. Most people seem to use it. It is one of those apps whose influence extends far beyond the confines of a mobile phone. These days, there are people who have become famous solely by using Instagram (albeit for dumb reasons), and the app has spawned more imitations that would be possible to count. So how did everything go so right for the app's creators? To answer that question, you have to flash back to 2010, when Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger launched an app they had been working on for a while, according to The New York Times. When they first put it out there, they were not expecting it to make such a colossal splash. Therefore, they did not prepare the computer systems regulating the app for the absolute onslaught of downloads and activity that followed its release. Within 24 hours, the app had 25,000 users, according to The Telegraph. In order to handle the unexpected rush of activity, the two founders reached out to a former CTO at Facebook for help. That man, Adam D'Angelo, helped ease the virtual traffic jam caused by the app's popularity, and paved the road for what Instagram is today.

The story of Instagram offers a prime example of what we'll call the "big new thing" ingredient for app development. Basically, what Systrom and Krieger succeeded in doing was to provide users with an app they didn't know they needed until they saw it - at which point they were apt to wonder how they had ever lived without it. That is because the two creators stumbled upon something that was, at the time, entirely new. The sheer originality of it made it an immediate essential for users. In this way, the app's meteoric rise to success - it ended up being purchased by Facebook for $1 billion 18 months after its release - can be seen as more of an inevitability than a surprise. After all, Systrom and Krieger tapped into some truly new territory (at the time), and as we know in the tech sphere, originality always reaps big rewards.

Ingredient 2: Simplicity (Tinder)
Ever downloaded an app only to find that it is comprised of so many different screens and functions that it is totally overwhelming? One of the biggest mistakes app developers make is to crowd their creations with too much to do. Like an overly-plotted TV show or a too-ostentatious house, this is bound to produce more eye-rolls than admiration. With apps, as with most things, a key ingredient is simplicity. And not just simplicity of presentation, but also of concept. A truly successful app is one that you should be able to sum up in just a few choice words. For Instagram, you could say, "Photo sharing becomes new social network." Snapchat could be described as, "A disappearing photo act." And then there's Tinder: "Find romance by swiping right."

In a world chalk-full of dating apps, it is safe to say that Tinder did not exactly have the "big new thing" ingredient that helped launch Instagram. But what it lacked in originality it made up for in simplicity. You see, most dating apps demand a lot of information from you - stuff like interests, physical attributes, specific preferences and what you are looking for in a partner. But the creators of Tinder boiled it down to a much simpler formula: You see a person's photo. Like them, swipe right. Don't like them, swipe left. If you both swipe right, you have the opportunity to chat.

Sure, the app is not exactly something Jane Austen would approve of, but for all the ways it circumnavigates conventional courtship, it has proven to be a major draw for impatient and unsentimental millennials (and others). On a daily basis, there are 500 million swipes. Of those, 5 million turn out to be matches. The key to this app's continued success is its simplicity. The ease with which people can go on and swipe through photos for a few minutes is what keeps them coming back. And it does not all lead to meaningless hookups. Indeed, every once in a while Tinder is responsible for a genuinely inspired pairing such as this couple.

Ingredient 3: Strong Design (Shazam)
Ever hear a song come on at a grocery store or office building and desperately want to know what it is? For people with Shazam on their phone, there will never be any more sense of sonic mystery. The app is built to identify songs just by being placed near to where they are playing. As far as originality on concept goes, there is no denying that Shazam has that same "big new thing" factor as Instagram. But it also offers another key ingredient: a very robust design.

When you put your phone in the vicinity of an unknown song to learn its information, the app does not only provide you with a title. In addition, it will provide you with an album cover and artist, and, if applicable, the option to download the tune or listen to it for free. In this way, it becomes not just an app for identification, but also a portal for music listening thanks to the ease of its design.

"This app is absolutely fantastic!" one user raved on Instagram. "It allows you to get names and artists for those songs that you know, but don't actually know ... This app is making my life tons better. This app is so great, it is the only app that I actually bother to review."

Between these three ingredients, you have some building blocks for designing a successful app. To help further in that effort, consider leveraging HTML5 Form to design the app. Not only does this platform provide a highly navigable format, but it is also eminently adaptable, and can therefore easily accommodate any modifications to your app that will arise. So what are you waiting for?


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