Whether it’s the App Store or Google Play, app marketplaces have become more crowded than ever, featuring an almost overwhelming number of choices. If you’re developing or planning to develop a mobile productivity app, an intuitive interface and good functionality are no longer enough. Your app has to liberate users, helping them not only to solve problems, but to do it in an amazingly simple way, like awesome apps such as Evernote or Google Now. To build a productivity app that will stand out, consider the following 4 principles, all of them inspired by the leading productivity apps of our day.


  • Make things as beautifully simple as you can


The best productivity apps do simple things in the simplest way possible. The keywords here are “fast” and “easy”. A great example is Evernote’s streamlined yet powerful note-taking feature. Not only does Evernote make it super easy for you to type a note, but goes beyond traditional text-based notes to support voice memos, web clippings, and images. And that’s not all. Evernote automatically includes in your notes the time when they were taken, as well as the location, helping you find and sort notes later on with ease.

These features, coupled with its cross-platform compatibility, make the popular note-taking app amazing in a quiet and very useful way. Just think of the countless other note-taking apps out there. Some of them have more features that Evernote, but how many of them make note-taking so simple and fun?


  • Anticipate the needs of users


A great example of this principle in action is Google Now. There are plenty of personal planners around, but one way Google Now stands out is by providing in advance information that is relevant to you. For example, you could be driving to the airport when Google Now notifies you about traffic problems up the road or a last minute flight delay. By taking a proactive approach and anticipating needs, an app can help users deal more effectively with unexpected problems, saving you time and reducing stress.

The key to successfully anticipating your users’ needs is to understand who your users are and how they use your app, and then to build into your app smart proactive features. It’s a challenge, but it can make your app so much more intuitive and productive.   


  • Offer instant gratification


Ever tried a top expense reporting app like Expensify? With a simple snap of your mobile camera, it can help you turn a receipt into a no-hassle expense report that you can then email to your boss in no time. Combining an intuitive process with an accessible interface, it offers instant gratification, saving you the trouble of having to manually gather, sort, and track your receipts, a boring and time-consuming process.

Instant gratification in a productivity app is the direct result of using digitisation to streamline tedious processes. The same concept can be applied to many other types of apps, offering users the satisfaction of knowing that they can do things fast, and well.


  • Test, measure, and improve


All apps, even leading ones that get the most downloads and reviews, are undergoing a continuous development – their features get tested, their performance gets measured, and their code is being improved all the time. Test, measure, and improve is a key principle that powers all successful apps. It’s all about constant evolution and improving the user experience in order to keep an edge over competitors.

You don’t have to create your own analytics platforms to test, measure, and improve your app. There are many web-based tools such as Optimizely or Usertesting.com – that empower you to apply this principle without breaking the bank. It’s a sure way to continuously improve your app.

The Bottom Line

In our mobile, digitised world, people love apps that make them more productive. To win a following for your app and thrive in competitive app marketplaces, where users always have many different options, your app’s productivity features simply have to excel. More than doing something well, your app has to be truly productive – it has to do what it does amazingly, and in an intuitive way. Let the principles above inspire you to create a truly amazing app.