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An app must stand out to remain competitive


Last updated: Tuesday, July 01, 2014 9:55 PM

JEDDAH – As smartphone users grow exponentially, so as app offerings and usage, too.  And one of the key aspects for creating a value-generating mobile app rests with end-user experience where design is a priority.

Andreas Roell, CEO of Carib Ventures, concurred. “Absolutely, we believe in development from a user centric perspective. Our solution was built with target customer involvement in all stages of project development cycle: strategy/feature decisions, user experience design and testing. As with our Ramadan Phone solution, it was important to provide a technical complex execution in the most simple and intuitive experience. Design is the key to accomplish this. By designing to the preferences of targeted consumers, we are able to connect with users immediately based on their preferences and expectations. As an example, our solution provides a complete Ramadan experience to consumers’ entire phone. To make the solution immersive and expected, we placed heavy emphasis on integrating Ramadan typical themes with technology advanced phone settings. For us designing properly for target audiences and expectations sits at the core from making our solution a superb and talked about solution.”

In an interview with the Saudi Gazette, Roell said with hundreds of thousands of apps competing for space on customer smartphones, it is essential for an app to stand out.

The growth of app offerings and usage has been exceptional and continue to grow at significant rates. Statistics and our analysis show that of all apps consumers have on their smartphones, on average they only use between 3-4 on a regular, ongoing basis. All the others, they tend to use regularly only for about 30 days. So the challenge for developers is to be as relevant and as user friendly as possible. If a consumer can say “This is very valuable in my life and I enjoy using this app” than there is a chance to succeed in gaining a user’s share of mobile time.”

He further said the biggest challenge for developers is to require a consumer to click on the app to “turn it on” for usage. “We have taken a complete different approach with our Ramadan Phone. Knowing that the holy month changes people’s daily routines significantly, we decide on providing an “always on” concept. We wanted to make it as easy as possible to provide our relevant content and experience to users. So instead of just being an app that you have to click on to gain access to the content, our solution integrates fully with a phone and brings the consumer a Ramadan experience during the regular course of phone usage.”

When developing a mobile app, Roell moreover said, there is a need for integration with backend systems and pre-existing infrastructure. “If a brand is building a mobile ecommerce app, due diligence in regards to melding with an ecommerce system is crucial. Businesses must consider the capacity of existing systems to handle additional transactions and traffic,” he said.

The needs and complexity can vary significantly based on the objective and the features of an app. Some key elements of staying fresh and relevant in a user’s mind is to keep content updated on an ongoing basis.

“Therefore, there is very common use of so-called content management systems (CMS), which are technologies that allow app managers to enter and schedule content that appears in the apps. In our case, the Ramadan Phone was solely built with a so-called “Live content” orientation. In this environment, our phone experience changes content and images, such as wallpapers, numerous times a day. Our content editors use a proprietary CMS technology to ensure that content is published at the right time, to the right audience, worldwide,” he pointed out.

The other very crucial technical element of an app success is the ability to deliver a smooth experience based on access availability and speed. Here, hosting capacities and connection speed are the key to success. Specifically, the ability to either plan to proper app usage levels or set up hosting environment in a way that allows for redundancy. This is exactly, what we have done with our Ramadan Phone. The hardest part is to properly predict usage levels of an experience such as ours. You can plan as much as you want, but we have seen many times, that apps can become a global sensation in matter of hours and all of your expectations have been broken. Our approach is to set up a hosting environment at the level of projections, and at the same time have additional hosting capacities that we can quickly switch into for expanded capacities. This is instant and non-noticeable to consumers and guarantees them a smooth experience.

Carib Ventures’ Ramadan Phone mobile experience is an Android only solution. It is built to be compatible with all Androids version 2.2 (Year 2010 versions) and up to the latest versions. “We have focused on Android only as it is the most immersive operating system available and the only capable of executing this innovative solution we have developed. We want our solution to bring the best Ramadan innovation possible to Muslims around the World and Android is the only platform to give us this opportunity.”

Asked about its plans for tablets, he expressed that  “our Ramadan Phone was built to latest, best practices development standards called responsive design. With this approach of programming, our solution is automatically optimized for any Android mobile device being it a smartphone, tablet or interactive television. This means flawless experience at any screen resolution, device and version of operating system.”

Amplifying the attributes of Ramadan Phone application, Roell stressed that it “is not a regular app. We have developed the first of its kind Ramadan themed phone experience. Here, users turn their phone in celebration of the holy month into Ramadan designs. So without having to remember clicking on an app to experience Ramadan, our solution brings Ramadan to every normal mobile activity. For instance, all icons of the phones are adjusted to reflect Ramadan. The daily clock is adjusted to display the proper position of the moon and sun where a user is in the World. The solution was built with patented technology and we are the only company being able to deliver such an experience.” — SG


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