Your app is not an app

8 bit smartphone

Never, ever tell anyone your startup is an app. It’s a startup that does X, Y or Z.

Saying your startup is an app, is a bit like telling people your startup uses electricity. The app side of what you do is making the infrastructure the hero, not the problem you solve.

My latest startup is all about Surfing. #SneakySurf – you might have seen me tweet about it. It’s still in private beta, and it is, lets say – ‘Smartphone compatible’ but it is much more than an app. I never sell it as such. It is a surfing company.

The world doesn’t need another app, but it certainly needs many more businesses. Make sure you don’t confuse what you really do, with the infrastructure you happen to employ.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

The new usability experts

Are not who we expect them to be. It’s not Jakob Nielsen or even Steve Krug. In fact it is Joe Citizen.

Without even realising it, the average web surfer or smart phone addict has become an expert in usability. This doesn’t mean we could ask them what a sight should look like, how it should work or to advice us of any design imperatives. it’s a little different than that. But have no doubt, they are the experts. And their expertise is different. it is more like this – they know what sucks. They will not tolerate a site that sucks for more than a few seconds.


We have entered an age of mass usability expertise – and this has been driven by social media. As entrepreneurs and aspiring startup geeks we have to remember the training our users are getting. They are being trained on what is ‘best practice’ by the worlds best – brands like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google, Foursquare. Brands with the greatest UI’s ever seen are training the everyday person on what good looks like. Even if it is occurring at a subconscious level. It is happening.

The impact of this is significant. For me it puts flow first, and features second. The flow of the site and intuitive nature must be put above all other technology and feature desires we have. If we fail with our usability, there wont be a second chance to win back the experts who’ve already decided we don’t cut it.

Great advice for web startups

Pieter Peach sent me this email yesterday. He’s just a great bloke who thinks about others. In doing so he shared some valuable insights he took from a web 2.0 conference. It was such a succinct and insightful email that I thought I’d share it here verbatim. Enjoy & digest. Steve Sammartino

Just came across an email I sent to myself from a session in W2.0NY last year.  Straightforward stuff, but a good reminder for me, thought I’d pass it along.

“Sitting here listening to a great speaker on developing next gen web 2.0 apps, will email stuff as I I hear it.

Just quickly

Requisites for successful 2.0 service
1.    Network effect
2.    Collective intelligence
3.    Lightweight business models
4.    Longtail (maybe)
5.    Encourage unintended uses
6.    Platform vs application
7.    End of the software release cycle
8.    Rich user experiences
9.    Innovation in assembly

Race to dominate remaining data classes.
Its hard to compete with those who have a head start in developing the network effect in a particular data class. “