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Dissecting popular mobile apps: What makes an app trendy?

These days, it's hard for many to image a world without a mobile device loaded with applications. The famous tagline "There's an app for that" seems to be more true today than it was when it first emerged. However, some applications are undoubtedly more popular than others.

For example, consider the case of Flappy Bird. This wildly popular app featured a pixilated, goldfish-looking bird that the user directs through pipes that look oddly similar to something out of the original Mario game. The game became so beloved that when its creator took it out of app stores, users bought smartphones already loaded with the program anywhere they could. Fox Business reported that one device, an iPhone 5, reached a high bid of $14,900, with 26 individuals vying for the Flappy Bird-containing hardware.

What makes an app so popular?
But what makes an application like Flappy Bird so widely used and widely loved? While users have their own opinions and special features that they look for, The Next Web editor Matt Brian noted that first impressions can make or break an application. As Brian pointed out, when individuals download a program, they generally form their impression of it within the first few minutes.

"Especially in the case of free apps, there is a huge amount of churn," Brian wrote. "If the app doesn't look as good as a rival app and navigation isn't fluid, the chances are the user won't even bother getting to learn about what it can do."

Brian also stated that many popular apps "play to the strengths of mobile," taking into account and making the best use of the capabilities the platform has to offer.

Creating a popular app: Questions developers should ask
However, identifying the characteristics that are common among popular apps and creating one from scratch are two different monsters. Mobile device expert Priya Viswanathan noted that there are several questions developers can ask themselves to ensure the program they are created with be a popular one:

  1. Does this app already exist? If so, creators need not trash the app, but should take cues from their competitors to differentiate the program and offer users something new.
  2. What are users look for right now? Viswanathan recommends taking a look at market trends to better identify user needs and address them accordingly.
  3. Is there user demand for this app? The bottom line here is, if the creators wouldn't use the app themselves, others probably won't either.
  4. Will it work? During the development process, creators should leverage mobile app testing to ensure that the program will perform as they plan. 

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