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Our favourite websites/apps and how we decide what is good website or app development


We have decided to post a weekly email where we share which apps and websites we have discovered and can’t do without. But before we delve into the seemingly endless list of apps and websites which appear to be born as frequently as rabbits in spring, I believe we should quickly explain our methodology of selection. So what is it that constitutes a well-designed website or good app development? In no particular order:

Ease of use

One of the reasons why so many people love Apple products is because they are so damn easy to use. You pick up an I-Pad and you intuitively know what to do. There is greater potential for mass appeal if logic and simplicity are combined and that is how Apple have become so popular. Well, and design too, but we’ll get on to that. My point is, we have become very used to efficient design combined with intuitive menus, which do not require the studying of an instruction manual.

So ease of use and the time it takes to become proficient has become crucial, otherwise, we’ll get bored and try something else. This is especially true when it comes to apps. I read a few years ago where Apple reported, that there were more than a million apps on the App Store. I also read that a vast majority of apps released on the App Store failed to make a profit. Rightly or wrongly, an app needs to make a quick impression and illustrate what it has to offer; otherwise, it will not gain popular appeal. And if the app is too hard to use, it won’t get used and we’ll soon forget we downloaded it; until we decide to spring clean our cluttered iPhone or iPad.


This is for you – the user – to ascertain, but it has got to be relevant to your needs. In regards of our assessment of what makes an app or website relevant, we will consider the needs of three distinct roles within The Design Bench; a tech savvy developer, a creative designer and a digital marketer. As well as maintaining relevance to our roles, we will also consider entertainment value.


One of the reasons many Apps disappear without a trace is because they fail to offer anything original, or be unsuccessful at improving upon the original. Why download a facsimile of something that came before that offers nothing new? A true original is very rare, so the vast majority of successful sites improve upon a theme already common. Friends reunited, which has now officially ceased and the behemoth of social media Facebook are the obvious comparison. So originality of ideas and improved delivery of known themes is an important consideration.


It is rare for a website to have an associated cost, but there are some which contain valuable content, such as popular newspapers or media archives, which can be justified on the needs of the user. When it comes to apps I know of many people who have rarely bought them, despite the often minimal cost (69p/99p). There are even charts which list the most popular free apps. However, there is compelling evidence which suggests that if an app can only be bought, then it is altogether viewed as more valuable. So, conflicting evidence. The cost of the app can be justified depending on the relevance to the user, the purpose of the app and the benefit of use to the organisation which has created it. The price must justify the means. Perhaps you are already a customer and it is in the interest of the business’s future success to offer its customers access to their products via an app. However, if the app or website provides access to a valuable service or information, then a cost can be justified. E-Bay would not sell their app, whereas an app version of a popular console game, which is bought for less than the console version, can rightly justify its cost.


A well-designed app or website which looks appealing will encourage further use. Design goes hand in hand with ease of use too and if we like what we see, we are more likely to identify with it and so continue to visit the site and use the app.

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Everyone at The Design Bench uses Wunderlist. You can access the site via a website and it is also available to download for free as an app. We find it particularly useful because it allows for the creation of multiple collaborative lists. When colleagues complete a “to do” you are notified. Items are user time stamped and alerts can be set. It is incredibly easy to use, meaning you can quickly benefit from it quickly and because lists are great at benefitting time management, you do not waste time setting it up. There is a pro version which offers further benefits, but at present the extra cost is unjustified for our needs.

Next week we will further explore apps and websites which we can’t do without and we’ll also review any new additions which have caught our eye.


The Design Bench - Helping Businesses Succeed in South Wales


The Design Bench is a full-service design agency based in South Wales dedicated to crafting design experiences that reflect our client’s uniqueness to maximise audience participation.

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Stuart is the Creative Director and founding partner of The Design Bench.