Joe Dawson

Joe is the director of Creative.onl and oversees all of the design and technical work that we produce. Find him on Twitter.

There are thousands of apps out there in any given sector, ready to be downloaded onto the smartphones or tablets of your target customers. Each of the individual developers believe that their product has a unique selling point that sets them apart from the rest of the world.

But do these USPs help?

And how do you translate them into app features that are not only useful, but which your users are really going to love?

Here’s our quick guide:

What is a USP?

  • A travel app that allows you to compare different hotel rates and get the best value for money.
  • A restaurant app that lets you book with the click of a button and even order your food before you sit down.
  • An ecommerce app that sends you the best offers and gives you automatic discounts on the latest products.

All these can be considered unique selling points – the things that set your business and your app apart from the competition. It’s what you offer and no one else.

It states why you are bigger, better or just plain different in the market place. It will help you form stronger connections with your customers.

Pick the right USP and it will give you a competitive advantage.

Examples include:

  • Nike’s unique selling point is that they are closely attached to professional athletes. These are the trainers and gear that the top sporting talent wears. Their app provides tips from the pros as well as a chance to access tickets for sporting events.
  • McDonald’s combines fast food with a consistent experience over all their stores, wherever you are in the world. You know what you are getting. Their app allows you to find your nearest restaurant and even order your meal before you get to the checkout.

If you are developing an app for your business or simply want to create the next useful download and earn revenue from it, having strong USPs is vital. And it can define what you actually deliver for your customers.

USPs for apps can be as varied as the different types of download themselves. Let’s take a simple list making app, for example. You may want it to be shareable between different devices, have an easy login, you might want it to respond to voice, or a combination of all these things.

USPs and app features: An example from language learning

One sector where you can clearly see the relationship between app development and USPs is language learning.

It’s one of the few to really develop and utilise strong selling points to attract new customers in recent years. From basic flash card apps ten years ago, companies like Babbel have incorporated the latest learning technology to take users from complete beginner to accomplished language speaker in next to no time – all at price that won’t break the bank.

If you look at the progress of language apps over the last ten years, you’ll see that they have become increasingly sophisticated. Almost all of that is based on finding new, exciting USPs that differentiate them from their competitors.

Creating strong USPs

The key here is that, to really develop your app features, your USP has to be strong, focused and deliverable. That means you need to be careful about what you choose and always have half a mind on how it is going to translate onto your app platform.

For example, perhaps you want to create a productivity app to be used by businesses and their staff. One great USP could be that this app will work with a lot of other products on the market such as Dropbox, Office 365 and Google Docs.

Saying that your app connects to a wider range of apps than your competitor is a pretty strong selling point and one where you can clearly see the pathway to full implementation (even if it is a little difficult). Customers increasingly prefer getting where they want with just a few taps.

Steps to translating your USP into a feature

USPs don’t necessarily have to be 100% original but they do need to differentiate you from your competitors. One ‘common’ choice is to somehow simplify a feature that already exists elsewhere.

Simplicity of use is not a new concept but if your competitor’s apps are all pretty complicated to operate, then this is certainly something to concentrate on. You can take a good hard look at your app design and find ways to improve the user experience so that it runs more smoothly – streamline the menus, make the signup easier or make some processes automatic.

Check your competitors

It’s important to see what your nearest competitors are up to when it comes to any app development.

  • What do you like about their product?
  • Are there ways to make it better?
  • Are they missing vital services or features that your customers are looking for?

Get feedback from customers

The best place to find out which USPs are likely to benefit your app is to ask your customers. They may like to see X, Y or Z included so that it makes their lives easier. Perhaps they’ve thought of some things that have never even crossed your mind.

Ask yourself the hard questions

  • Is your USP strong enough to create great new features?
  • Is it deliverable? In other words, is the technology there yet that enables you to achieve your goal?
  • Can you create a big enough buzz around your USP and that feature to get more people to download your app?

Updating Your USPs

Okay, so you’ve managed to pick some strong USPs and translate them into great app features. You may indeed have gotten a march on your competitors. This won’t last, however.

Once one company comes up with a new, all singing, all dancing feature, their competitors aren’t far behind with a different version. You’ll find the same issue with your own app. The competition will see what you have, think that’s great and build it into their own design.

Your USP is no longer a USP. That’s okay, competition is inevitable, especially when you’re leading innovation in your field.

But that does mean you have to be constantly looking at ways to further develop your app, introduce new USPs and keep things current. It’s a constant process.

USPs can not only be great for defining your app in the first place but introducing new functionality that can set you apart from the rest. If you haven’t sat down and sorted out your USPs and tested how strong they are, do so now. Then start to look at how you can translate these into functions for your app development.

Latest insight articles

Got questions?

Talk to Joe

We love meeting new people. Get in touch to talk about how we can help you.

hello@creative.onl

+44 (0)116 318 0488

Insights direct to your inbox

Stay in the loop by signing up to receive our email updates on design, technology and business.

Sign up →
 
View previous editions