The App Handbook

25 hard-won truths about app making

BBH Stockholm
Mar 15 · 3 min read
Illustration by Adam Lindfors

With such an overwhelming number of apps out there, it’s hard to estimate the number of available apps. Luckily, Apple periodically reveals the stats. As of May 2017, an estimated 2.2 million apps were available in the world’s second largest app store alone! Meanwhile, Android users were able to choose between 2.8 million apps! Thus, 1–0 to Google Play and Android if we chose to only look at the numbers. Quite an amazing number indeed.

However, the explosive growth in app development since the first app was created, is not surprising when you consider that the global mobile internet user penetration has already exceeded half the world’s population. Furthermore, if we glance at the mobile usage stats, we see that millennials on average spend 185 minutes (!) on accessing daily online content from a mobile device such as a smartphone, a tablet or wearable, and Generation X spend on average 110 minutes, while boomers are way behind (or ahead, depending on how you see it) with an average of 43 minutes!

25 hard-won truths about app making

However, 2.8 million apps are not necessarily better than 2.2 million apps. 185 minutes not necessarily better than 43 minutes. Quality always beats quantity. Which is why some of our mobile experts at BBH Stockholm spent some 3 months developing the app handbook containing 25 hard-won truths about app making, derived from the experience of having created 100+ apps. It is written to inspire future and existing app creators. From remote stakeholders to teenage WizKids interested in joining this exciting world. It goes through the process of creating an app, how you start out, and the phases that come after; define, design, develop and deploy. Below is a teaser where we go through some of the learnings up to the define phase.

STARTING OUT In a world where technology is so pervasive that we spend a substantial time of our life buried in the comfort of the possibilities available at our fingertips, it becomes ever so important to find the right balance of technological services. Got an insanely great app idea? Your answer might be a ringing YES! However, if the idea doesn’t get your endorphins pumping just thinking about it, it’s probably not great enough. You need a solid idea to carry you through the storm. Use the creativity you’ve been blessed with and get the ball rolling to create something magnificent that’ll either enhance the lives of many or that will better your company’s consumer approach.


The next step is to do the research. We mean proper research. Don’t shrug it off as boring. Do not believe it is the stiff and righteous counterpart of pure genius. Pure geniuses also do their research. Countless good ideas have failed because of the lack of it. Who will use it? Will enough people use it? Is it the right time to do it? Will it be profitable? Will your digital trans-formation project make those krona, dollars or euros rain? Can you fend off competition when the slower fishes in the sea copy your successful idea?

If your idea is solid enough, it’s time to look to the three pillars of all things digital. This one goes beyond just apps. Every digital thingie is a mix of three parts: Emotion, Content, and Function. Different platforms rely on these pillars differently. Apps should have very little static content and focus on delivering a brand experience through useful functionality.

Originally published by Alexander Niléhn at

BBH Stockholm

Written by

We prototype, design, build and scale captivating customer experiences that generate commercial success.

BBH Stockholm

Our views on prototyping, designing, building and scaling captivating customer experiences that generate commercial success.

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