How to kill a good idea with a dis-‘app’-ointing product

Ever found an app, or some other type of product, that’s such a great idea you can’t help but think, “dammit!, I totally could have come up with that!”?

Scrolling through my newsfeed today, I stumbled upon an app based on the most brilliant idea. I won’t go into details here, but the concept is right up my street and sounds perfect. It solves a very real problem, and I couldn’t wait to start using it. And yes, I felt a pang of envy — why didn’t I think of that?!

Pushing my envious thoughts aside, I immediately installed and opened the app. It doesn’t take long before I’m reminded of 3 key things that can kill a good idea and a product.

1. Introduce pain into the sign up process

Before I can do anything, I have to sign up. Righto, this is fairly standard nowadays. I’m presented with the usual suspects — signing up with Facebook, which I never do, or email. So I go ahead and enter my email and create a password.

First disappointment: the app doesn’t integrate with Apple’s Activities, so I can’t use 1Password to generate a password for me. Oh well, I’m still keen enough to continue.

The app then tells me I need to verify my email by opening it and tapping on a ‘Verify’ button. Ok, that’s cool. I go ahead and do it. I tap the button, then get taken back to the app. Weeee, here we go.

Uh, the app is now asking me to enter my email and password again. Kind of frustrating. I enter my email and password (again, this would have been easier with 1Password but I digress…) and uh oh, I get an alert saying I need to verify my email. Again. They have sent me another email.

Normally I would have kicked this into touch at this point, but I really, REALLY want to use this product!

So I open the new email, go through the process again, head back to the app, and get the same alert. Glutton for punishment that I am, I try a third time. Maybe I got the password wrong. Nope, still the same alert. With a heavy heart, I concede defeat and delete the app.

Thinking that was the end of the story, an email lands in my inbox the next day, full of apologies, with a couple of dad jokes thrown in. Apparently they were experiencing some technical issues, and they kindly ask me to try again. Ok, sure thing, benefit of the doubt and all that, let’s try again.

I download the app again, tap to sign up and hoorah, I’m in!

2. Make sure you include a few basic UI no-nos

It doesn’t take me long to realise the UI is a little clunky. UI is my bag, so I may be more critical than most, but there were some very basic errors. For example, the keyboard covers vital content and won’t allow me to scroll beyond it. I need to collapse the keyboard and find the field, then tap in it to bring the keyboard back. Tut.

3. Fail to deliver, and throw in a few dead ends

The app is a location-based service, so I add my home postcode and let the app do its thing. No results found. Huh, ok, well I live a little out in the sticks so perhaps that’s to be expected. I work in the city, however, so I add my office postcode, thinking this should do the trick. Nope, nothing. So now I’m plum out of luck, left with no options. I can’t do anything. I can’t even continue.

Disappointment sets in, and I realise this isn’t going to be the awesome product I thought it would be. Maybe one day, but unfortunately not today. I hit the home button, press and hold the app icon, and send it once more into jiggling oblivion.

I was totally on board with the concept and really, really wanted to use this app. And I would have been a total advocate if it did what it promised. But for now, that awesome concept remains just that. A concept.

With so many apps released every day, you only get one shot at winning people over. If you disappoint your ‘idea’ fans like me from the outset, chances are you’ve lost them forever. Or maybe you’ve just inspired them to go and create a much better product than yours.

On that note, I’ve got a bit of time on my hands. I might just go ahead and try and build it myself.…

By Mat Rutherford

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