As of June, 2016 - there are more than 2 million apps in Apple’s app store (try saying that three times fast). It’s a figure that gets tossed around a lot every time Apple updates the masses on just how awesome it’s app store is doing, but to developers it’s not as impressive as it is daunting. In a field of 2 million rounded square icons, it’s already 30% harder to stand out than it was just last year.
So how do you do it?
The truth of course, is that there’s no single answer, or effective ‘get noticed quick’ scheme. However, I honestly believe the most efficient way to bump your app up a couple tiers in quality and metrics is to introduce one or two of what I call ‘treats’. A treat is something that’s difficult to define, but I would start by saying it’s a UI or UX element, that catches the user by surprise - in a good way.
You’ll know it when you haven’t seen it before.
A treat can be a small animation in an otherwise static app, a nice pop of colour, or a really excellent implementation of a swipe gesture. They usually fall under the ‘you know it when you see it’ kind of definition, but basically you’ll know it when you haven’t seen it before. Treats are above all, unique, subtle, and pleasing.
You’re definitely familiar with some treats already. The pull down to refresh gesture, double tap to like, and of course the fabled swipe right. These are all features that at one point were unique treats, so widely beloved by users, that you can now find implementations everywhere. Pull down to refresh has become so successful it’s expected as a default behaviour by most app users.
My point is this: in a marketplace as saturated as the app store, you may be competing against hundreds of apps that strive to do the same thing; what may inevitably set you apart isn't just functionality, it's how your app feels. There are certain gestures and behaviours a top tier app is expected to have, but if you can exceed those expectations in any tiny or interesting way, users will reward you.
In the coming weeks I’ll be exploring some fun UI and UX treats that you can find out in the wild. I’m hoping this will become a nice series of posts to point out and celebrate great UI/UX, and by focusing in on one or two treats at a time the posts can get a little more technical, and focus on how you might actually implement some of these features.
But that’s all to come...for now, pull out your favourite app and look at how they implement some treats. It’s probably your favourite for a reason.