5 Best Practices for Association
Mobile App Development
Whatís the stuff that
the best association apps are made of? Two association media and publishing
professionals (Bates Creativeís Debbie Bates-Schrott and Association for Retail
Environmentís Katherine Josephs) weigh in with their best practices for mobile
By Apryl Motley, CAE
associationís annual meeting, your monthly magazine, or your certification
programÖSure, you could create an app for these, but it doesnít necessarily
mean that you should. Creating apps for appís sake is not a good use of time or
resources. So whatís the stuff the best apps are made of? Two association media
and publishing professionals weigh in with their best practices for mobile app
Debbie Bates-Schrott, president of Bates Creative, believes that
as an association begins
to think about developing a mobile app, the organization needs to shift its
- Think about how your content can come to life
in a new way on screens.Users
expect an engaging digital experience, and a critical step in the process
is strategically planning out the content for the app. Pull together all
of the digital assets you have available (videos, sound bites, photos,
hyperlinks, etc.) to supplement your appís content.
- Develop a marketing plan to drive members to
download and use the app. Associations
also need to remember that just because they launch an app doesnít mean
their members will find it. Some of our association clients offer
exclusive digital content and market it through their print publications
and websites. Think about ways to drive your members to the new app, and
continue that conversation with them once they download it through push
notifications and app updates.
Creative has worked with numerous associations to develop their apps, including
Heifer Internationalís app for World Ark
(winner of a 2014
Gold Excel Award)
and the National Education Associationís NEA Today Magazine app.
The Association for
RetailEnvironments is among the many organizations that have started to
make mobile apps available to their members. A.R.E. developed an app for its flagship magazine, Retail Environments. Here
are three items that Katherine Josephs, the associationís director, analyticsand
technology, considers the most critical when developing apps:
- Determine whether your audience
wants and will use a mobile version.
An app requires a considerable investment of time and money, and just
because app technology is popular that doesnít necessarily mean your
audience will flock to it.
- Donít use the mobile space to
replicate a physical product.
Most magazine apps simply recreate the flip pages of their physical
counterparts. Some have links and video playback, but thatís not taking
full advantage of the range of digital presentation.
- Watch the size of your app. If itís too large, it will require users to connect to
Wifi and that may frustrate them.
Putting these practices in place as
your association evaluates whether or not you need an app will help ensure you
allocate resources appropriately.
Apryl Motley, CAE, is a communications
and publishing consultant and freelance writer. Donít miss Aprylís feature
article on the mobile-first mindset in the upcoming May/June 2015 issue of Signature.