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This chapter is from the book

Define a Platform

As you think about what your app should be good at and what issues it should avoid, you may find yourself arriving at similar questions time and time again. If you have a good sense of the personality of the app you want to make, you can define a sort of platform—like a political platform—that lists the values, assumptions, and goals at the heart of the app. Then as you make decisions throughout the life of the project, you can refer to that platform to help guide you. For instance, SnackLog might have platform items like these.

  • People need to remember what they bought only long enough to put it in their full-fledged budgeting system.
  • People make small purchases that usually fit into a short list of categories.
  • People tend to make the same small purchases (coffee, snacks, etc.) over and over again.
  • If the purchase recording process takes more than 15 seconds, people won’t bother with it.
  • If people can’t easily record a purchase while carrying a hot cup of coffee, they will decide not to use the app rather than put down their drink.

A task-management app might have a platform that included these assertions.

  • A to-do list is not a calendar; appointments don’t belong in it.
  • When planning your to-do lists, you should be able to see all items.
  • When working on your to-do lists, you should only see the work that can be done now.
  • It should be quick and easy to jot down new to-do items as they come up, without losing your current context.
  • View settings shouldn’t allow users to easily hide important items from themselves.

If you take a stand on topics like these, you will develop the unique perspective your app offers on the genre. Once you have a platform with some strong assertions that you really believe in, your marketing copy will almost write itself. In fact, you may want to approach platform definition as if you’re writing the marketing copy for an app that doesn’t yet exist: write the kind of description you’d like your app to have in the App Store before you design it. That helps you think about audiences and goals rather than focus too much on features. The better you define your app’s platform, the easier it will be to convince people why it’s interesting and special and worth installing.

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