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App design guide: seven top tips

Jenni Biggs, app project director of golf2win.co.uk takes a close look at how all golf clubs can ensure their app really works for them.

Golf apps are becoming one of the hottest trends in 2017. Featuring in the top four trends at the recent CMAA World Conference in Orlando and no doubt will be hotly discussed in many golf industry shows and seminars this coming year. Industry experts know that apps are serious business tools and capable of generating income, repeat business, golfer loyalty and converting causal interest into a fully engaged members. By following these seven top tips the smart, business savvy GM will be on course to creating the app that is right for their business.

1)  What do you want the app to do?

Apps can be used to both enhance user experience and to generate income.  Private member’s only clubs would focus more upon member experience, whereas a member’s club that allows visitors or a ‘pay and play’ golf clubs might be looking to have a fully rounded app that gives the best of both worlds: greater golfer experience plus be able to collect usable data and promote events, special offers, etc. Retailers would, naturally, have their focus upon promotion and sale of their items is an attractive, eye-catching manner.

2) Select your app type

Do you need a native, hybrid or web app? Native apps are specially coded to work on the phone’s operating system and because of this they are the most reliable, stable and flexible to work with. Your app will have its very own set of coding for each platform, can access all features of the phones and work offline.

Web apps are very simply an app that pulls data directly from your website and has a ‘wrapper’ put around it so it can be put on the respective stores.  Functions are very, very limited, but you can have add-on like push notification modules. These will not work off line.

Hybrid apps are written to flex between iOS, Android and Windows phones. These are essentially web apps with more functionality. However because they have a one size fits all approach they tend to be very basic and most of the information will be pulled from the club’s website. Again, like the web apps, modules can be written to them to perform certain tasks. These have the ability to hold already downloaded data, but most areas of a hybrid will not work without a signal. Be careful as sometimes unscrupulous developers pass hybrids off as native apps!

In making a decision, you need to consider both function and connectivity. Native apps are superior (which is why hybrids are sometimes passed off as them to the unsuspecting purchaser) but if your app only requires basic functionality and your end users have good connectivity, then a hybrid might fit the bill.

3) Image is everything

Apps are a reflection of your business and it will only look as good as your graphics. You would never throw a brochure or website together using any old images and content; neither should you do so with an app.

4) Don’t forget your members!

Golden rule – always remember the end user. You might want to have an app that generates income for your club or retail business, but if there is no incentive for them to download it your app will still be sat on the app stores gathering dust. A great question would be to ask yourself is: would you personally download and consistently use the app and why?

5) Don’t popup everywhere

Rule four is paramount here. It is very sensible and can be very profitable to advertise sections of your club, special offers and events and even have sponsors. However there is a right way and a wrong way, especially for the end user. There are a few different ways to advertise on your app and the method that has got people turning off in their droves is popup adverting.

Initially it might seem like a tempting offer; your business gets an app made for free or a very low price with the cost being covered by the app supplier’s own sponsors, however a quick Google search will show you how painful end users find them. This is because the most common placement of these adverts is where the golfers will be using it – the course guide and scorecard – which means that they are subjected to waiting for the popup to go at every hole, flyover and when they enter the scores. Ask yourself a very serious question, would you use an app like that? And if you wouldn’t, why would your members?

6) Speak directly to your users – for their benefit (and yours!)

This is the smart way to market and advertise your club. Well designed and executed apps excel at marketing and sales. After all they do have a 100% targeted audience and when timed correctly, can greatly add both to the user’s experience and the profitability of your club.

Unlike a random third party popup, most members want to hear from you and communication options range from direct selling, push notifications, promotions, suggestive selling, events and fixture dates. Think about what messages or adverts you do want to send to your members and include some thought into app only offers.

7) Into the future and beyond!

Consider future usage. Will you be looking to expand what is done via the app? For example, clubs that are a part of hotel and spa might want to add/expand on this section or you might want to utilise in beacon technology or broadcast event results live at a later date. Ensuring you have the correct type of app and one that can be added onto which can save your club a lot of time and money in the long run.

Finally, remember that an app is a part of your company’s overall image. Just like any marketing tool, it needs to look the part as well as service its purpose. Apps can look as amazing or a functional as you wish. Make an app that you can be proud of for years to come.