The magic of touch

Tell me something. Why do people love the iPad but fail to recognize Microsoft was the first one out there with a touch device? Why do people stand in line for an iPhone while there are other better offerings out there? Why do people spend an enormous amount of money on stuff when there are other, better and cheaper solutions available? The answer is: because it makes them feel good.

It's as simple as that. It makes them feel good. The product they're using gives them something that goes beyond the specs on the box of it. When you sit in a coffeeshop (no, not the Amsterdam kind) with an iPad you're sending out a signal. Or at least: you think you're sending out a signal and that is what it is all about: you are feeling special and that is worth buying that device.

Now, I am not saying here the iPad is a bad device. It isn't. It's pretty good. But, time has caught up and at this time of writing they are not the best choice when it comes to tablets. What is the best choice? Well, that depends on what you want to do with it. I currently own two different Surface tablets. One is the RT version which is brilliant because the battery lasts all day, I can use Word and OneNote so I can do some work on it and I can do pretty all the thing my wife does on her iPad. I also have the Surface Pro which is brilliant because the form factor is small enough to carry around but I can still do development on it. The iPad my wife has is brilliant because she can use it to play all those games she loves so much, games that are not available on my machines (and that suits me fine). My daughter will get a Nexus. Why? It's cheap and it does what she needs it for, therefor it's brilliant.

As you can see I think all those devices are brilliant, but only if you use them what they're good at. You could technically use the iPad to develop a full blown game in HTML5, JavaScript and CSS but why on earth would you want to do that? The tools that make development such a nice experience aren't available on it. Use the Surface for that: it runs Visual Studio! On the other hand, if you want to do some gaming or some simple note taking, why not use the iPad? It's conveniently small and there are tons of apps available, so you will probably find the perfect note taker app that fits your style.

But… I believe people don't think about these sort of things when they decide where to spend their money on. I think it works the other way around: they buy a device and then find the apps for it to justify their purchase. I believe psychologists call it 'cognitive dissonance' which means as much as finding reasoning to justify your actions.

So, why do people by that device? Or even: why do people decide on a certain brand in clothing or any other area? Well, I'll repeat what I said: because it makes them feel good.

If you're writing apps for a tablet you should take that into account. Make sure your application appeals to your user on a certain level. Make sure that when they work with your system they get a sense of achievement, a sense of being special because they use that app. You could do that by having a first class UI with fantastic graphics, so they feel emerged in your world. You can do that by making them member of some elite club. You can do that in all sorts of ways, but no matter how you do it, make your app appeal to the user.

If you do that, you'll create some loyal followers of your 'brand'. Make sure your apps are recognizable and that people feel at home using them. If that means having a weird color scheme than that's ok. Just make sure it's something that sticks and comes back everywhere they look.

Another way to accomplish that is to make sure the user is emerged in your app. Good games tend to make people forget they're playing games at all. Good apps do that as well: they are all about the goal you're trying to achieve and not so much about how to achieve that. The app shouldn't get in the way. If you manage to do that you'll find people feel at ease in your app and will give it a good rating in the stores. They will come back to it and are more likely to choose your brand again next time they are looking for an app. Make people forget they're working with a phone or a tablet and let them do whatever it is they need to do.

Make the whole experience a magical one, one that makes the user feel special. So in order to become more visible you need to make sure the user falls in love with your brand. Once you've done that, you can almost get away with anything. Your users will become a loyal fan base. And that is the way to success.

Print | posted @ Wednesday, February 20, 2013 7:31 AM

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