Explaining the mobile market to customers
Commissioned work is where you are hired by a third-party to create an app for them. As the mobile-app market has expanded, many companies and small businesses are interested in promoting their business, or providing a front-end to an existing service via the app store. For example, a taxi company may want to create an app that allows users to quickly order a cab based on their current location. Or a law firm may want a simple free game that they encourage clients to download simply as a promotional exercise to reinforce their brand. These companies tend not to have in-house facilities for app design and may turn to you for help with their plans.
Keeping things clear
Many companies will not only ask you to design and build an app for them, but they’ll also want you to come up with an idea for their app. The hype surrounding the mobile apps market is so fierce at the moment that many businesses are commissioning apps because they feel they must be part of this ‘trend’. The process can be quite frustrating: You may be asked to pitch ideas for commissioned work, often prior to receiving payment, or not be given any firm indication that you will actually be hired for the design. Use your intuition to decide, before wasting time and effort, whether the commissioning company is serious about app design. Ideally, even your ‘pitch’ work should be paid. Unlike web design, app design remains a highly-skilled, sought-after and rare skill. Be careful not to undersell your services.
Learn how to pitch app ideas to customers
Do not assume a technical audience when pitching your apps to companies which have commissioned you. If you start talking about server-side code and Objective C, you may impress a small portion of your audience but, in our experience, the guys with their hands on the money in any given company tend not to be interested in the technical side of your app. They do not care about Java, or Perl. The most successful people in a company are usually those with the best skills in human relations and communication. They speak plainly, and they speak emotions. To impress these people, and secure a commission, you must explain in effective, jargon-free and human terms what you propose.
Explain how your app will make people feel, what it will let them do, and why that is important to your customer’s business. Don’t say: “This app patches into your server-side CGI and pushes distribution data out to the handset cross-referencing the GPS tracking data.” Instead say: “This app lets people check exactly where their delivery is, and how long it will take to get to its destination. It makes customers feel secure that the package will arrive, and excited about the delivery.”
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