Observations from Monitoring 300,000 Mobile & Web Apps – This is What I Learned.


In the past 2 years, I’ve monitored 300,000+ Web & Mobile Apps that launch on over 60+ launch sites, the iOS App Store, and through friends’ recommendations. In this post, I hope to share some of the lessons I’ve had from talking to almost 1000 developers/founders of apps and using 20,000 of them as well.

This is still a small fraction of the 15,000 web and mobile apps that launch each day. I’ve surely missed out on most of the market. 

In my exploration, I was looking to understand was what differentiates good apps from the bad ones far before it becomes obvious that the app is good.

The Way An App is Designed is the symptom of how the founder thinks about User-Behavior. 
I often submit enterprise demo requests for products I don’t need. The demoes allow me to see things about data and test other designers’ theories about user behavior that I could never have dreamed on my own. “Why is there a fintech-o-auth service?” etc…

5 Lessons And Principles For Doing Anything In Web

  1. Web Speed – the number of developers and/or technologies/APIs and/or costs and/or education required to build an app will decrease by 2x every 2 years. Want to dethrone the Goliath? No biggie, just wait 2 years, and blitzkrieg them. GasBuddy.com is a great example. A 2 to 3 person team could beat them today.
  2. Scrape & Crawl First – If you’re starting a web business. You’ve already made a huge blunder if you haven’t figured out a programmatic way to find new customers or if you haven’t used scraping to validate the customers. Customers exhibit themselves digitally through blog posts, comments, APIs, etc… Stack your top of the funnel. Figure out how you will blitzkrieg the market. Make no mistake, if you’re building something in web, you must have an explicit top of the funnel lead list. 
  3. Advanced Behavior Understanding is now a Must. – App Founders in the new ecosystem must answer these questions before walking into the Colosseum that is the web and mobile app marketplace. They must answer questions about these things. Without answering at least 2 to 3 of these key things, you’re walking into a gun fight with a knife. “You ain’t no Roy P. Benavidez.”
    1. Motivation – Why do users want to do a behavior? Incentive?
    2. Ability/Capability – How easily can they do it today?
    3. Trigger Event- What event in the user’s life/daily experience drives the behavior and how does it express itself digitally?
    4. Trigger Event Frequency- How often does the user exhibit this behavior?
  4. Hawthorne Effect is an app founder’s worst enemy.  A natural distrust of people’s answers to your questions is probably a good thing to have. Be vicious about pissing off your potential customers to the point where they tell you their true pain. Troll them if you must. You want them spill their guts.
  5. Your First Version Should Break. There’s so many new apps each day that the paradigm has shifted. If the first version of your product is functional, you’ve already launched too late. Make buttons that don’t work.
  6. Got an app idea? That’s good, but what you need is a problem obsession. Great. Approximately 15,000 others are launching theirs tomorrow. One of the only things that matters is the extent to which you’ve defined the problem and user behavior. To differentiate yourself, you must dive deep into the problem definition. Some of the best app founders I’ve met have a ridiculous level of understanding of user behavior.

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