Take advantage of our expertise!

PBS has extensive experience with the app development process and we have carefully studied what works and what doesn't work.   We want to share our experience with you.  We believe the mission for your app should focus on quality and outreach and should engage audiences interactively wherever they are.  The following questions are designed to make you think about aspects of your app you may have overlooked and put you in a good position to advance in the app proposal process.

(lightbulb) Keep in mind you must adhere to all PBS requirements.

Content considerations

Releasing an app to the market is a big deal and we want to make sure you are putting your highest quality content out there.  When thinking about the content you want to include in your app, it's important to consider the following:

(tick) Evaluate the landscape 

  • Are there any apps already out there that do something similar? How well are they doing?
  • Is there a market for a new take on the idea? How would yours be different?
  • What are some compelling reasons for this idea to be available on a mobile device?
  • Are there special capabilities of the device that would benefit the content experience?

(tick) Know your audience

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is your audience already doing online and on mobile devices?
  • What are some classic use cases that would inspire your users to use your app?

  • Will your audience take the time to discover your app and download it?

  • People tend to download apps for things they do regularly or for things that tie into their lifestyle. Does your app offer this type of content?

  • When users download an app they like, they use it more frequently and for longer periods of time than they use the mobile web. Are you creating a mobile application with enough value to make it a go-to app for your mobile customers?

  • The demographic of an iPad app user may be very different from the average user that visits your mobile website.  Research the differences and let your findings influence your mobile strategy.

(tick) Dynamic content vs. static content

  • Do we have the resources and design to serve dynamic content through exteneral APIs such as COVE instead of statically embedding content?
  • Will your app be designed to deliver a highly graphical and robust user experience or is it primarily for delivering server-based information... or both?

(tick) Content updates

  • Do you have dedicated staff to maintain content updates?

Budget considerations

Budget is a serious consideration and deserves a lot of thought.  Developing individual mobile apps for multiple operating systems or devices can be expensive and resource-intensive. A mobile website is an easier and more economical endeavor and can reach a broader audience.  As a general rule, if you're working on a small budget and native device functionality is not the focus of your requirements, consider starting your mobile initiative with a mobile website instead of a mobile app.

Original content vs. Porting Content

We recommend creating a new, original experience that doesn’t duplicate existing online content because:  

  • pocket or tablet devices bring a range of capabilities unavailable to the web user.
  • the ability to be on-the-go (not connected to wi-fi) and the ability to go outside or move around physically is appealing in our fast paced society.  
  • the best apps make use of the capabilities mobile touch screens provide; they don’t just copy a concept from another platform.
  • native apps generally have premium content that people expect to pay for; this is an opportunity for PBS to draw in direct support from fans of your show. 

Ports of online content are easier to create, so it’s even more important to think about the strategic reasons for doing so. Would your online content be an even better experience if it were mobile and used a touchscreen?  If not, consider what value you will add by doing a port - why would a user pay for an experience they can get for free? 

Promotional vs. paid apps

To charge or not to charge?  One of the biggest decisions you'll make is whether or not to charge users for your app.  There are benefits and drawbacks to each option.  The following are some things to consider:

  • It's possible that because your app is an extension of other customer-facing efforts you can offer it for free and attract many users already familiar with your brand.
  • Apps can be expensive to develop and maintain.  Charging for your app can recover some of those expenses.
  • Due to the large number of free apps out there, often charging for your app can differentiate you from the competition.
  • Paid apps are typically presented more prominently in the app store.

Choosing a platform

Choosing a platform to host your app is important and should be thoroughly discussed before proceeding with development.  Below are some items from our research that are designed to get you thinking about which platform makes the best sense for your goals.

  • What devices do you think would work best for this idea and why?  iOS, Android, pocket, tablet? 
  • Pocket apps are great for broad distribution, but tablets are becoming increasingly popular.
  • Pocket devices are more likely to have a data plan, tablets more likely to be only wi-fi.
  • Tablets provide much more screen area, providing a greater level of detail.
  • Pocket devices often have a broader array of features.
  • iOS vs. Android:
    • iOS is cheaper to develop for, due to the consistent operating system and device requirements.
    • Android has a broader user base, but a dizzying array of device hardware specifications with which to contend.

Figure 1 illustrates the rise of app use from 2011 to 2012 and who is winning the iOS vs. Android rivalry.

Figure 1

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