How to Design a Mobile App for Early Adopters

In today’s increasingly competitive space, mobile apps live and die by whether early adopters engage with them. But adoption doesn’t happen by accident, it is conscientious choices by the product designer that cater early versions to appeal to the gatekeepers of the app world.

Swimming In The iPool

Make it easy for early adopters to take a dip in your application.

Design your application (app) for the first 1% of users, and millions will follow

Everyone wants to get millions of users quickly. The trick to this is designing your app to appeal to the first 1-5% of users who will ultimately pick up your product (or the early adopters).

There are three key traits of early adopters are essential to consider when designing your product in the first phases of its evolution:

1.     Early adopters like to try new stuff

Don’t make it hard to explore your product. Your own user registration and authentication is a must, but provide Facebook login as option. Ask for as little information as far down the workflow as you can.

HINT: Never ask users to confirm email or password twice in an app – it is annoying and will cause drop off.

 2.     Early adopters like to brag

In this case, bragging is a good thing! Think about how you want early adopters to contribute, not just consume. Focus on a fun process for contribution, whether it’s a motivating User Experience (UX) or the gamification of contributions.

HINT: There is a delicate balance between easy contribution and content quality – make the desired action you want your user to take obvious.

3.     Early adopters like to connect and share

Make your app easy to share and inherently viral. This helps early adopters spread the word faster, but be sure to consider how they engage with their network. Sharing needs to be built into your use case, but, if social is not there, don’t force it.

HINT: Do not ask for offline processing unless absolutely necessary – this takes up precious time.

Considering these traits as you begin to build will be key for your app’s success. Remember to keep it simple and fun and your early adopters will help do a lot of the promotional work for you.

Image JD Hancock via Compfight

About Instructor Saad Fazil

Saad is a senior product manager for Nokia’s Location and Commerce group and previously co-founded VentureDive, a technology incubator. He blogs at  View slides from Saad’s class here.