Don’t Call It An App

author: Anna date: March 27, 2012

There’s this evolution of the meaning behind “app.” From iPhones to Facebook, I encounter requests with increasing “appiness.” What is it? Or rather, what is it not?

So the term app comes from “application”, and we all know you don’t really have any kind of fun in applications. You write term papers in one. Or, worse, it’s the software that pops up when I hook up my scanner.

Applications have:
- state (They keep track of the user and preferences, the last thing you did here.)
- navigation, the “back button”
- menu items (functions like edit, etc.)

I can’t think of one application that has gone viral on Facebook.

Most of us play games on Facebook. Games have:
- state (They keep track of the user and preferences, the last thing you did here.)
- levels, progression
- leaderboard

While games have very high and repeated usage, I wouldn’t say they’re viral. Collaborative gaming, though, with its repeated share opportunities, could be viral (but sometimes are just spammy).

Our version of apps are more about experience and engagement. We leverage the Social Graph to create an insight for the user and the brand. It’s an enhanced use of Facebook to explore commonality. The best terms, so far, are a double-word combinations: social project, branded engagement, or marketing engagement. I know, it’s not ideal. It’s like a marketing campaign, with social data, for a specific client.

The strength in not having, nor wanting, to serve users with menus and navigations, is that we can get across a simple idea faster, which results in more virality. We’ve learned that, because perhaps the minimal landscape and canvas, that you really need to limit the options for users. Basically one image, one button, one graphic. You’re nested in a highly complex interface already, so keep it simple.

This style of modular design isn’t new, and is quite popular in mobile, too. As Facebook becomes increasingly mobile- at last glance 40% of our users for one client was on mobile- apps have to become more and more un-application-like.

cateogories: App Development, Apps, Blog

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