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7 Tips for Planning A Successful App for the Not for Profit Sector

Media on Mars blog post thumbnail: Universal Access
Reading Time 4 minutes
Blog post author picture: Shannon Palmer

We use apps for just about everything, from buying a new washing machine to tracking our evening run; posting photos of our food or checking sports scores. For the many amazing apps that make our lives easier, there is a great number that are pointless, clunky or terribly designed. Apps present an incredible opportunity for the not-for-profit sector though. Technology like this can help to solve important human problems. Apps have many advantages, and we think that accessibility is one of their most important.

Take for example our app development project with SECCA. Media on Mars worked closely with the not-for-profit organisation to create an app that educates and counsels young people with a disability as they are beginning and maintaining important relationships.

1. Consider the statistics

In Australia, and indeed around the world, consumption and usage of mobile devices is continuing to increase. Smartphones and tablets made up 63% of total time spent on devices, recorded in one month of 2015. It’s safe to say that, although they may not have access to a desktop computer, people living in remote and rural areas or in low socio-economic circumstances are still likely to own (or have access to) a smartphone. Therefore, to reach a wide audience (and particularly some of the most vulnerable or needy of the population), apps are a fantastic way to go.

2. Identify the problem

Start by asking “what problem am I trying to solve?”. It may sound silly but too often this fundamental step is skipped in the haste to achieve an outcome. Avoid jumping to solutions and examine the problem at its roots. Who is affected by this problem? What other issues arise around this problem? Are there other products or services working to try and solve this problem? How successfully are they doing so?

By stepping back and viewing the project from the user’s perspective, you’re able to examine a wider range of potentials and possibilities. Perhaps there’ll be elements of the app you hadn’t even considered in your late-night brainstorming sessions. Think hard. Then think again.

3. Take a look around

Research the field your app will be placed in. Look into the demographic you’re hoping to serve and analyse the success and design aspects of services already being provided to that demographic.

4. Pick one thing and nail it

One of the most common mistakes made during app development is trying to fit too many features onto one small screen. An app should have one primary purpose, and it should be crystal clear to the user. This way it is much easier to design an app that works and will guide the user through exactly the experience you had planned.

5. Design with ease of use

In 2017 nearly 88% of Australians owned smartphones, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re adept at using them. Mobile apps should be so simple that even a newbie mobile user can navigate it effectively. Is it intuitive? Are there big, easy-to-read buttons? Do you write in tech-speak or have you considered the audience you’re speaking to? Remember that new users will quickly drop off if your design isn’t intuitive and easy-to-use.

6. Plan for the offline experience

Some of the greatest apps are lauded for their usability when the consumer is not actually online. Consider how to make your app work seamlessly even when the user is not connected to WiFi or another signal. Think ahead about how the app works in the offline mode.

7. Cover as many platforms as possible

Every day users access apps across multiple devices and platforms —desktop, Web, smartphone and tablet — often covering all platforms in one day. Entrepreneurs need to make sure their app is available, functional and attractive across as many devices and platforms as possible.

If you’re interested in digital development or the not-for-profit sector, talk to us about your project.

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