5 Ways To Set Your App Up For Long Term Success

Learn our top 5 tips for creating an app that has long term success and will give you personal satisfaction.

It can certainly be fun to get into the Top Charts with a game like Flappy Bird, but once the novelty wears off, then what? You will have to go back to the drawing board and create another hit, which may or may not have the same success.

Building a top app is not easy and building an app that stays on the top charts for years is definitely a challenge. Sometimes you just get lucky, but many times success is the result of focus, proper market research, providing real value and a few learning experiences along the way.

In this post, we will go over five ways that you can develop an app for the long haul. While this is not the only way to be successful in app development, it is what we recommend and you will find out why.

5. Go Long On Content

If you have an app that is based on a blog or content based service of some kind, then you already have this one covered. But if your app is not content based, consider ways that you can add related content to your app to make it more useful.

For example, if you have a travel app that helps people find the best rates on hotels, flights and car rentals, you could add content about recommended places that they can visit during their trip. A continuous source of quality content is a great way to keep users coming back for more. Hipmunk has added TripAdvisor data to provide related content for travel bookings.

4. Leave The Door Open

When designing your app, it may be a good idea for you to provide a core set of features, while giving users the ability to add additional features in the future. Think about additional tools that a user might need to do functions associated with the app.

This not only makes your app useful now, but it gives users confidence that there are other features available and gives you the ability to add additional revenue streams in the future. You can do this through a subscription or in-app purchases.

3. Make It Social

Even the simplest apps can find long term success by implementing social interaction. One example is a game like Words With Friends.

It is a simple game that could be pretty boring to play against the computer. But, by allowing players to match wits against their real life friends, it makes the game much more fun.

So even if your app isn't a game, think of ways that users can add their friends to the app to make it more engaging. This will also increase the viral potential of your app, since you can instantly gain access to a person's social network.

2. Focus On Quality, Not Quantity

Reskinning an app that you bought the source code for is one way of creating income, by allowing you to publish multiple games in a short period of time. But are these games something that you really care about? Do you want to improve and expand them in the future?

If your answer is "no", then you may want to rethink your strategy. While reskinning can be a viable short-term business model, it is rarely a strategy that will give you long-term success and more importantly, personal satisfaction.

Quantity almost never results in quality and App Store Optimization for 200 apps is going to be much more difficult and time consuming than doing ASO for just 1 to 10 core apps. A better strategy is to take the time to build and launch a quality app that is designed for long term success and only create new apps as your development bandwidth allows. If we look at the top 10 apps most valuable apps on our App Leaderboard, we see that this is certainly the case with ultra successful publishers.

Of the iOS publishers with apps in the overall top 10, each publisher has an average of 4.4 apps, with Machine Zone, Inc having the highest app count, at 16 apps. If we exclude Machine Zone from the app count the average number of published apps drops to 3.

So if you want to model successful publishers, then this is definitely one thing that you should pay attention to. Fewer apps means better focus and usually higher quality.

1. Solve A Real Problem

This is by far the best way to ensure that your app will be around for a long time to come. Although there is no guarantee that you will succeed, having an app that people cannot live without is an excellent place to start.

If you have a game, the problem that you are solving is boredom. So instead of creating a game that only has a few levels or has levels that all look the same, find a way to change it up and add social elements to keep players interested and engaged. This may mean adding additional levels on a regular basis or adding fun updates from time-to-time.

Other types of apps help solve everyday problems, from getting a taxi, to controlling your home automation system. But there are still so many problems out there that need a good solution, so your next big app idea may be closer than you think. Be aware of problems that you have personally and how an app could solve it.

There is also another benefit to solving real word problems. The more complex the problem you are solving, the harder it is for others to copy you. Compare this to all of the clones that pop up any time a gimmicky new app goes viral.


While the needs of the public and technology will change over time, you should do everything in your power to set yourself up for success over a period of years, not months. Steady growth through continuous improvement and providing real value can not only result in an extremely valuable app, but it can also provide a lot of personal satisfaction, knowing that you have created something that people truly love.

Do you have anything to add? Do you agree or disagree?

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Hugh Kimura

Written by: Hugh Kimura, Head of Content

Date: February 2014