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5 Best Practices for Association Mobile App Development - 4/6/2015 -

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 app development.

By Apryl Motley, CAE

Your 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 development.

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 mindset:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Bates Creative has worked with numerous associations to develop their apps, including Heifer Internationalís app for World Ark Magazine (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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


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