We talk a lot about blogging and social media here at HBC but less about app-ing.  So we asked Ceri Jones from Natural Kitchen Adventures for her top tips on developing an app!

To put my tips in context let me tell you a bit more about my app. The app contains 50 recipes, mostly vegetable based with the odd bit of dairy, meat and fish thrown in, which is exactly how I eat most of the time.  I wanted to make the recipes simple and most importantly delicious, because I know how lazy most of us are when it comes to cooking – me included!

I created the app with seasonal foods as the focus, as I felt this was a topic that wasn’t really being talked about amongst healthy food writers at the time. We love our flown in avocados and South American blueberries throughout the year, so I felt like this would be a good opportunity to educate people around eating seasonally in the UK and making the best of our amazing fresh produce.  I also want to educate people around cooking and enjoying underused vegetables like chard and radicchio.  

I was actually approached by an app development company, so can’t advise on how to search for a company to work with.  My top tips are for after that point!App Pic

Do your research  

Is there a similar app out there? What’s the functionality, are there any aspect you like or don’t like? How is it priced, how many recipes does it contain?  Is an app even the best way to package up your recipes?  Deliciously Ella’s app has been and still is ridiculously successful, Green Kitchen Stories too, but both are very different.  Aim to be different, but create something indispensably useful.  This was my motivation to focus in on seasonal eating, and especially to include the seasonal eating reference guides.

Decide what functionality you want in the app

An experienced app developer will help with this, and be able to suggest things like a shopping list function, ticking off ingredients and the method to help you keep track within a recipe.  Researching (see tip 1) will also help guide you.  The structure of the app is important too.  I wanted to sort my recipes by meal type as well as by season so we had to build this in.  I’m still keeping an ideas list for future development.  An app is never finished!

Create amazing content

I think this applies to all blogs, books and even extends to social media.  It’s what keeps people coming back.  I’m very proud of the recipe content we included which is mostly new recipes with a select few taken from my website.  If I had the chance to do it again I’d have possibly shot all the recipes with one design concept as if it was a book.  Real life, time and budget just didn’t allow for this but if you can, that would be my tip.  You’ll also need a cracking about me page and of course any extras (like my seasonal guides) are just as important bits of content to consider.

User testing

Rope in your friends, family and colleagues for this, it’s your best chance to get honest feedback on a beta version before unleashing the app out there into the world.  Fresh eyes can give really useful insights on how things work (or don’t work).  If you can’t incorporate their functionality suggestions now, keep a list for future.  Also, if you’ve got budget to pay for an editor or have a friend with a PHD in proof reading or English grammar (!), then definitely get them involved.  I couldn’t believe how many typos continuously hid from me.

Marketing and PR

Don’t underestimate this, and don’t expect overnight success (or to make millions).  An app sitting on the app store without marketing support will not sell on its own, not even with your Instagram account and blog plugging it 24/7.   I decided to use some of my savings to work with a PR professional on some professional promotion.  She was able to help with expert advice around a campaign and send press releases to online and published publications, most of whom have very long lead times which I hadn’t really realised.  My top tip would be to get on board with this as early as you can before the release, if possible.  Creating an app is easy, getting people to buy it is hard.  App Ceri Jones Pic16.9

I hope you find this useful, and if an app is on the cards for you in 2017, I wish you all the best of luck!

If you want to check out Ceri’s app, head to the app store.