There’s An App For That: From Diets to Diseases


by Krissy Goelz (@krisgoelz)

Weight WatchersSparkPeopleLivestrongTap & TrackiFitOneFatSecretDiet Organizer – do any of these sound familiar to you?

If youre part of the ¢‚¶” of the adult American population who is either overweight or obese, and part of the ¢‚¶” of that same population who owns a smartphone, then they probably do. Weight-loss apps are a huge segment of the healthcare app market, and that list above is just a few of them – not even getting into fitness-focused apps like Runkeeper, Fitness Pro, or FitDeck.

Weight loss is a huge industry as well as a huge medical concern, so its no surprise that there are so many apps trying to capitalize on the consumer interest. As a result, the consumer wins: theyre all trying to outdo each other with more features and better functionality.

Many of us are focusing our work in disease spaces that arent as widespread as weight loss – but that doesnt mean we cant benefit from this! What can we learn from weight-loss apps to help us build more effective disease-related apps?

Connect to a community. Many of the above-mentioned apps are connected to larger online communities of dieters. Weight Watchers has the longest tenure, of course, having existed since 1963 as a community first and foremost.

Are you trying to make your app succeed all alone? Connect with a patient community, or create one. People want more than data – they want conversation.

Offer the most comprehensive database. Yes, data isnt everything. But data is the sine qua non of your app – of any app. If the information isnt there, it wont matter how snazzy your interface is.

Dont get so wrapped up in your design that you forget to underpin it with a rock-solid foundation of information.

Consider your smaller markets. Weight Watchers learned this lesson earlier this year when it sought to expand its male user base, who had traditionally been less than 10 percent of members. They didnt change the functionality of their offerings, but they packaged it in a way that was less ostracizing for men, and felt more familiar and welcoming.

Are you inadvertently losing a big part of your app audience? Dont focus on the majority to the exclusion of everyone else.

Keep it simple… but offer the extras. LiveStrongs basic app functionality is as a food tracker, but it can also track exercise, recipes, nutrients and more. Those options dont get in the way of the food tracker, though.

Figure out what the main purpose of your app is, and put that front and center. Dont clutter it up.



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