By on March 30, 2010

10 Golden Principles of a Successful Web Application

Fred Wilson presenting his talk on 10 tips to building a successful web application

Fred Wilson’s presentation showing the slide in South Park where Twitter was conceived
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Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures) presented his opening keynote at the Future of Web Apps conference in Miami with 10 tips to create a successful web application. We found it extremely useful and have attempted to summarize them below.

1. Speed of Apps

  • Speed is the most important feature/ requirement for both power users and mainstream users
  • Use Pingdom to keep track of speed

2. Instant Utility

  • The service should be instantly useful to the user right out of the box
  • Users are not going to put up with having to configure the service, set it up, import contacts or doing data entry
  • Give people something right off the bat that is useful by populating the service initially

3. Software is Media

  • Your software has to have a personality and voice
  • Twitter’s fail-whale gave the company personality, attitude, and created a voice that people connected

4. Less is More

  • Launch a simple service, and grow the utility of your service over time
  • A simple service can be very powerful, reinforces the behavior of the users who get a lot of utility out of it, and is quick, easy, and fast
  • Do one thing really well and grow from there

5. Make it Programmable

  • Make it possible that others can build on top of, or connect to, or add value to your web application via read/write APIs
  • When people can add value to your application, they are adding energy to your application, bringing more users to your application, and bringing more data and richness to your applications

6. Make it Personal

  • Infuse your app with users’ energy, and allow third party developers to infuse your app with their energy
  • Making it personal allow users to feel a stronger sense of ownership towards the app, making them more likely to advocate it
  • However, this could also have a negative impact when users feel too much ownership over the product and become unhappy due to product changes

7. RESTful

  • Everything in your web application has a comprehensible URL
  • This makes the application more portable and easy to remember for the average user
  • Once the URL has been indexed by search engines, it allows people to discover your web application in a deep way

8. Discoverabilty

  • Invest in SEO and optimize your web application for search engines and social media
  • Applications have to be built from ground up to be viral

9. Clean

  • The application cannot be busy on the page
  • Big fonts, lots of space, not too much functionality presented on any one page makes it very inviting and allows the user to know right away what they need to do

10. Playful

  • Game dynamics in an app helps you get users to do what you want
  • Gamification elements allow users to have fun using your application as you can incentivize them for the right behavior

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