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Posted by Linda

We’re probably about halfway through our reviews of apps that have been created by UK charities.

The last review was part five, where we covered apps by the National Trust, Breast Cancer Care and the (US wing) of the Stand Up To Cancer campaign.

And in posts prior to that we also covered many other charities including Macmillan, Dog's Trust, Save the Children, WellChild, UNHCR, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, Meningitis Trust the British Heart Foundation and many more. 

We felt that now we were, more or less, halfway through these reviews it would be good to share some of the insights so far, in case they are useful to any charities that are considering the production of an app.

We’ve got links to all the reviews we’ve posted so far at the end of this blog post.

So here is a combination of tips and questions we think it would be good for a charity to consider before they start developing an app. 

  • Is your charity creating an app for iOS only and / or Android / Windows phones/tablets?
  • Is the app going to be for smartphones only, or is it supposed to scale-up nicely to iPad / other tablet sizes and do a ‘dual-download’ - in the case of iphone and ipads they will do this to the owner of two devices if using the same iTunes account. (For example - the UNHCR - Refugee App has a version that is native to smartphone but also one made for the tablet sized interface and it looks quite slick on both).
  • We feel it is wise to make sure whatever you develop is something that is native to tablet too, and not a tablet just showing the smartphone version. Tablet users would expect better than seeing an iPhone sized app interface on their big iPad screens.
  • How many people currently search the app store for relevant keyphrases? Is there a demand for an app?
  • How can your charity introduce a shareable aspect to the app, to spread it’s take up by users.
  • How can your charity encourage people to review the app, in order to create a sense of ‘social-proof’?
  • What is the ‘comeback-ability’ of the app - do people look at it once and leave it? What’s the reason for them to return. It would be good it there was one by keeping some part of the content fresh. However, things like iMutt (by the Dogs Trust) or the famous ‘iHobo’ could be borderline irritating as they constantly pester with needy push notifications and you end up deleting it before engaging too deeply with it.
  • Can it send push notifications when new updates are available - but what might they be so they are not irritating or intrusive to people’s busy days. Perhaps a daily push notification of an item of interesting news relating to the niche your charity occupies that takes the user into into the app to read more.
  • What options for in-app purchases might there be that could be a novel way to get donations?
  • What interactive aspects could it have - like ‘set a date in my diary for INSERT SOMETHING IMPORTANT FOR YOUR CHARITY’.
  • Are you deploying any audio or video in the app? What might it / could it be that hasn’t been done before by a similar charity to yours?
  • If there is a donation mechanism? It seems to us here at want2donate that one of the worst things a charity can do when asking for money from an app environment is link to a non-responsive web page. It is better to keep this in the environment of the device - so a text to donate, a click for call back or a slick responsive giving form would be key to converting more donors. 
  • How will you measure success (donations, downloads, shares) that have been driven from the app. How can you track from the app to web page and ongoing conversion point if decide to link from the app to your website?
  • What if you do invest the time and money into creating an app, then there are no reviews, or even bad reviews? Or even not many downloads? What would be the marketing plan? A good PR and marketing plan would be crucial in helping it get traction. 
  • How backwardly compatible would the app be with older devices and versions of the respective phone's operating systems? What are the cost implications of that?

Depending on the functionality, content and overall purpose of the app it might be that a HTML5 mobile friendly web page build and deployment could be better to explore than a full-on app, as it can 'feel' app like but have the following benefits:

  • Be servable to Android, iOS and Windows tablets and smartphones in one go without having to develop and keep updated numerous multi-platform and OS apps. 
  • We feel there are barriers to marketing an app that you would not encounter if you wanted to market only a website. 

That's it for now. We hope there was some good advice in there for your organisation. 

Keep an on the next site updates too that includenew charity pages, new slideshow captions for our animal adoption pages as well as part 6 of our charity apps reviews. 

Catch up on the main charity app review blog series:

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