A Quick Guide to Purpose Apps, Part 1

Create Your Earth Day Revolution by Living It

Every day we are given the option to make positive change for the future of our planet. Luckily we have all the tools we need to ensure that our children can grow up in a cleaner, safer planet.

Making a difference for the future of our planet doesn’t have to include huge, arguably daunting efforts. You can make a dent by making simple lifestyle changes that, if we can all commit to, will create a huge reduction in our ecological footprint.

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Top Image Credit:

iStockphoto.com/demaerre

Jordan Bryant

Jordan Bryant

Every day we are given the option to make positive change for the future of our planet. Luckily we have all the tools we need to ensure that our children can grow up in a cleaner, safer planet.

Making a difference for the future of our planet doesn’t have to include huge, arguably daunting efforts. You can make a dent by making simple lifestyle changes that, if we can all commit to, will create a huge reduction in our ecological footprint.

The list below is not new, but is a reminder that sets the context for how we can use technology and mobile apps to help shrink our respective footprints.

  1. Conserve water
  2. Stop using plastic
  3. Recycle
  4. Use less heat & AC
  5. Drive less
  6. Save electricity
  7. Consume less chemicals
  8. Support local food and products
  9. Use paperless statements, online banking & other services
  10. Spend time in nature
  11. Share a best practice or a helpful app with a friend or family member

We often think that one person, whether by casting a vote during an election or making an eco-choice, can’t make a difference. But there are countless examples of how one person can not only make a difference, but can begin a movement or a revolution.

The great social activist Jerry Rubin once said, “We create revolution by living it.”

Take the story of Derreck Kayango, a refugee from Uganda who started the Global Soap Project, which takes once-used hotel soaps and recycles them to provide soap for the nearly 4 million people who will die annually from intestinal diseases because of a lack of access to soap and clean water.

Or, how Tommy Kleyn of The Netherlands, after becoming tired of seeing litter along the bank of a river he passed every day as he rode to work, decided to take a trash bag with him to work, and spent an extra 30 minutes filling the bag with trash during his morning commute. Every day for five weeks, he returned to the bank with some friends and spent 30 minutes picking up the trash. 22 bags later, the river bank was clear of trash.

A transformative experience such as Derek’s or Tommy’s is rare. But what is evident, is that your individual actions do have a demonstrable impact. What if your contribution or your “revolution” started by using a mobile app?

In observance and celebration of Earth Day, we’re publishing Part 1 of our evaluation and recommendation for some of the most helpful mobile “purpose” apps around to get you started on your “revolution”.

When we evaluate consumer apps in the respective stores, we begin by looking at some of the core components of the app. We take into account everything from icons, screen shots, reviews, and then we dig a little deeper into user experience (UX) and interaction design elements. We also share our take on their ASO (App Store Optimization) Strategy

This will be the first in a series marrying our thoughts on sustainability and global citizenship and a little insight on mobile purpose apps. We hope this will help you keep your “revolution” moving.

Check out a few of our favorite apps which provide the potential to positively impact the earth.

 

iRecycle App ( iOS / Android )

iRecycle App icon

iRecycle is a premiere application for finding local (United States only), convenient recycling opportunities when you are on the go or at home.

 

 

How does it work?

iRecycle Category Screenshot

You select the category of the items
you’d like to recycle, then the item
within the category.

 

iRecycle App Location List screenshot

The iRecycle app displays a list of
locations (nearest to you, first)
that will recycle those items.
iRecycle provides access to more
than 1,600,000 ways to recycle over
350 materials in the United States.

What are the users saying?

Trending pros:

  • The ability to search for items you want to recycle and ease of finding a place to recycle them.
  • Simple user interface and user experience.

Improvement Opportunities:

  • Continue updating recycling locations for the most up to date locations, some have closed down.
  • Privacy and security, with location-based data and creating experiences to work around this with manual entry as an option.

How well is it utilizing the app stores as distribution channels?

The app could ramp up it’s ASO strategy, making it more visible in the app stores and thus allowing more people to benefit from it. The app is only ranking for a 13 keywords and keyword phrases. For a strong app store distribution strategy we look for apps to be indexing for at least 100 keywords and keyword phrases in order to rank higher and capture more downloads.

 

Energy Consumption Analyzer App ( Android )

 

Energy Consumption Analyzer App

This application keeps track of your energy consumption. Add your meters for gas, electricity, or water to the database and record the current meter readings from time to time.

 

 

How does it work?

Energy Consumption Analyzer App Calculate Consumption Screenshot

The application calculates the average
normalized rate of consumption per hour,
day, week, or month and draws a graph
showing the consumption rate over time.

 

Energy-Consumption-Analyzer-App Graph Screenshot

If the average cost per unit is provided,
the graphs can also show the amount of
money spent, instead of energy.

What are the users saying?

Two trending pros:

  • The developer, Christoph Zens, comments on every review and is very responsive. Great customer service, and proactiveness to tap into user insights.
  • Really reliable technology, and a vast depth of utility value. Christoph really went above and beyond in delivering an app with robust functionality for his users.

Two improvement Opportunities:

  • The user interface and user experience design could be made to be more aesthetically pleasing and intuitive, and thus feel less engineered.
  • Now that it’s been proven on Android, team up with an iOS developer and port to iOS to cover the other platform and user base, and test monetization strategies with iOS.

How well is it utilizing the google play store as a distribution channel?

The app looks to have a solid ASO strategy, ranking in the top 10 for ten keywords with each around 250 competitors, and ranking well for several other keywords and keywords phrases.

 

JouleBug ( iOS / Android )

JouleBug App Icon

JouleBug organizes sustainability tips into actions that you Buzz in the app when you do them in real-life. The result? Demystifying gamification for sustainability.

 

 

How does it work?

JouleBug-App-Sustainability-Actions

You can browse various sustainability
actions, then when you complete an action
in real life, you “Buzz” it and receive
points and badges.

 

JouleBug App User Gamification

You can also compete with other users
to see who completes the most sustainability actions.

What are the users saying?

Two trending pros:

  • This is a very clean user experience and user interface, very intuitive and user-friendly. Also really like the visual design elements they chose, and the gamification elements was a really nice touch.
  • Really reliable technology. The app performs flawlessly in my experience.

Two improvement Opportunities:

  • Having a more intentional onboarding process with permission-based access requests and onboarding prompts.
  • Image compiling and structuring on the backend, we noticed some of the images took longer to load than others.

How well is it utilizing the app stores as distribution channels?

The app could ramp up it’s ASO strategy, making it more visible in the app stores. The app is only ranking for 31 keywords and keyword phrases, and a majority of the keywords it’s ranking for have low search volumes.

 

Seafood Watch App ( iOS / Android )

Seafood Watch App Icon

Seafood Watch recommendations help you choose ocean-friendly seafood at your favorite restaurants and stores, making it easier than ever to learn more about the seafood you eat.

 

 

How does it work?

Seafood Watch App browse fish screenshot

You can browse by typing in a fish
or sushi, searching locations near
you, or 
looking up a type of seafood
in their dictionary, A-Z.

 

Seafood App Fish Directory screenshot

The seafood dictionary allows you
to select a type of fish, then filter to
learn more about it, plus it’s color-
coded with a legend to show you
what seafood to avoid.

What are the users saying?

Two trending pros:

  • Shows the distinction between a farmed or wild seafood type.
  • Very informative filtering feature to easily access the information you’re looking for about fish, and find sustainable seafood partners around you if in larger city locations (not all locations are supported.)  

Two improvement Opportunities:

  • Expand the locations that the app supports.
  • Include the lists in a PDF form that are supported on the website, many users request them.

How well is it utilizing the app stores as distribution channels?

The app could ramp up it’s ASO strategy, making it more visible in the app stores. The app is only ranking for a 30 keywords and keyword phrases, and even though they are ranking in the top 10 for 6 keywords, almost all the keywords it’s ranking for have very low search volumes, not carrying any weight for them in terms of organic visibility.

 

Farmstand ( iOS )

Farmstand App icon Farmstand connects you with locally grown food. Find markets in your area, share photos, post deals you’ve found, and help support your local community by telling everyone what’s great at your farmers’ market.


 

How does it work?

Farmstand App Activity Feed screenshot

Farmstand is the ultimate combination...
imagine if Yelp had a baby with Instagram,
and it turned out being specifically for farmers’ markets.

 

Farmstand App Social Map Feed screenshot

The Instagram-style feed is a nice touch
for social viewing and interacting with
|the information, and the map adds a needed
user experience to find places around you.

What are the users saying?

Two trending pros:

  • Allows you to get right into the experience to experience the app without having to register.
  • The user experience is very simple to grasp

Improvement Opportunity:

  • Signing in with Facebook and leveraging Facebook to share the app with other sustainability groups to increase adoption and revamp the social experience within the app.

How well is it utilizing the app store as a distribution channel?

Even though the app is only ranking for 27 keywords and keyword phrases, it’s ranking very well for some keywords, allowing it to score pretty well in terms of visibility. Our scoring system shows an overall score of 6.1/10, so the app should look to increase its phrases and ranking position with the keywords it’s indexing for to be more visible.

 

A Movement in the Making

So, you may not single-handedly save the planet, but in our opinion, “green” or “eco” apps make it easier for you to have a positive impact on the world. Who knows, if you share your efforts or even your experience with a particular app, and you get just one more person to follow your lead, you may be quietly starting a movement.

 

iStockphoto.com/demaerre

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