“Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach.”~ Aristotle
Clearly this quote has not been circulated widely enough, as somehow AKHIA’s Matt Rumer and Lukas Treu ended up in front of a University of Akron undergraduate class teaching core concepts of successful mobile application development and marketing on Saturday. The Taylor Institute of Direct Marketing (part of the College of Business Administration) served as their host, and a room full of students with an interest in mobile application development was their audience. One can only conclude that there must be a tragic shortage of professors, right?
All kidding aside, we were both thrilled to have been extended the opportunity to present for the second time in the past six months on topics that are near and dear to our hearts—content creation and user experience design.
It wasn’t all that long ago that we were sitting in similar classrooms—especially so for Matt, who is wrapping up a master’s degree focused on creating compelling user experience—and we both know the feeling of graduating college and wishing you had more exposure to professionals working on the front lines of your industry. We’re both passionate about what we do, so it seemed like a great opportunity to make an impact while talking through topics we love.
The purpose of the two-day workshop was to equip students with the proper knowledge and tools to develop and market their own mobile app concept. Veteran marketer Jeffrey Staats led the workshop, walking the students through some mobile technology basics—what is (and isn’t) mobile, how the trend has grown, who mobile consumers are, etc.—and laid a foundation around mobile as a marketing strategy and the importance of brand strategy in mobile marketing. What follows is a recap of our respective presentations.
Top Tips for Content Creation: Lukas Treu, Content Architect
Like Matt, I have a bit of mobile application startup experience, and I know that you sometimes get more than you bargain for when it comes to the duties of the skeleton crew running a lean startup company. For this reason, I began my presentation by setting the expectation that being the “communications guy/gal” or “the writer” when developing a mobile app means being a lot more than the person responsible for writing in-app content. You may well find yourself in charge of creating marketing collateral, investor pitches, a brand voice and much more. Knowing best practices about writing for the small screen is helpful, but you also need to be equipped with general marketing knowledge and an understanding of what makes for compelling content to succeed!
As I explained to the class, to create great mobile app content (and most types of content for that matter,) remember the basics:
- Start with a sticky idea that people will latch onto and remember
- Make your content contagious by remembering why people share
- Know your audience, develop personas and speak in ways that will make them listen
- Create an appropriate brand voice and stay consistent across channels
- Remember to empathize with your audience… How are they feeling in the moment?
- Find your faults before others do by seeking out potential misinterpretations
- Work closely with your UX team, optimizing carefully for mobile
- Play by the rules, protecting your intellectual property and respecting others!
The Roadmap to a Valuable User Experience: Matt Rumer, Lead, UX/Senior Art Director
The two-day workshop resembled a lot of the environment many startups find themselves in—limited time and essentially no budget. Therefore, it was important to not only teach the students about what makes a valuable user experience but also how to create one quickly. I introduced the class to a lean UX approach where the sole purpose is to ideate and create a user-centric product as quickly as possible in order to get it into the hands of users for evaluation. The approach includes gaining an understanding of the user types while then concepting solutions that could then be tested and improved based off feedback and observation of the user. Along with an explanation of the approach, the students received references and tools to bring their ideation to life.
To further assist in the development of their concepts I encouraged the students to keep a few app development best practices in mind:
- Focus on the minimum viable product and avoid wasting time and money
- Create valuable experiences that users want, not what they ask for
- Fail early and quickly so you waste less time on a concept that is not validated
- Create intuitive navigation with design cues so your user always knows where they are and where to go next
- Plan for new experiences within the Internet of things (IoT)
While Saturday’s class was eventful, the experience isn’t over yet—next Saturday marks Part II of the workshop in which students will receive a few more expert insights before presenting their proposal for a new mobile app. They will need to explain it, justify it and market it effectively to receive course credit. If their idea is good enough and they are dedicated to implementing it, they could even receive funding—a member of the university’s research grant team will be on site. We wish the students luck and who knows maybe the next big idea will spark out of Akron!