Apps for Digital Publishing: There are only 5 rules (Part 2)

This is Part Two of Dean Johnson’s look at how to survive in the cut-throat business of app development. Read Part One here.

RULE THREE: Design and build a great app not a good one

Create an app that does the original (or new) content justice. If you don’t, you will risk Apple rejecting
your title, or worse, the consumer voting with their wallet, star-rating and review.

If you pay peanuts, you’ll get an app that looks like it was made by monkeys. If your budget won’t stretch, then form a comfortable working partnership with your developer (or don’t build it at all). It’s harder to charge a premium price for a budget app so make sure it looks stunning and works from virtual cover to virtual

RULE FOUR: It doesn’t have to be a book

This might be a controversial rule but it’s time to step out of your comfort zone.

The restrictions of print dictate that a book should be a book. Use the same incredible content in an app and you’ll find the best interpretations don’t attempt to simulate ‘curly pages’ and leather bookmarks.

You currently publish words and images, not preconceptions so you should use these as the building blocks for your app. You now have the opportunity to introduce video, audio, gaming, geo-location and shareable content, wrapped in a level of interactivity that appeals to a wider audience than ever before.

RULE FIVE: Don’t forget the icon!

Book jacket design is alive and well – it just got a bit smaller.

Your app icon is your identity, the first visual connection with your digital audience and the image that takes pride of place on a device’s desktop.

You don’t want your icon to put consumers off so avoid ‘over-branding’. Think about Apple’s packaging, not Microsoft’s and the design challenge becomes one of minimum content for maximum impact.

Your tiny icon must perform the same task as a book jacket in a sea of 500,000 apps. You wouldn’t launch a printed book without serious thought given to the cover, so don’t neglect your icon.

Useful links:




Top 100 Albums 

Headspin: Storybook

Guinness World Records: At Your Fingertips


Dean Johnson is Creative Director at Brandwidth.