Vanity Apps: Pretty Useless

This article first appeared on Linkedin Pulse

Vanity Apps in the workplace normally come with a cute explainer video, a flashy colour scheme and a name that forces you to smile when you say it out loud. What they don’t normally come with is a robust and scalable platform framework, and a user friendly front end that enhances employee experience for a range of connected experiences. 

Landell discussed in her Apps Vs Platforms article that apps are just good at doing one thing well. I also touch on the low engagement of mobile Apps in this article. In the case of Vanity Apps, they might be really good at ordering a coffee or letting you know that your visitor has arrived, but without the integration and automation opportunities that a platform can bring, they’re not capable of handling the whole process. 

Time spent by concierge teams clicking between 2-4 products to manage bookings is time that they can’t spend doing what they do best - creating great experiences for customers. Even your most patient employees will end up getting annoyed with how hard it is to complete simple tasks. 

No amount of ping pong tables in the office can offset the frustration of basic & frequently used workplace technology either not working at all, or only working for a small proportion of tasks. 

Vanity Apps look great on paper but just aren’t action oriented. They just create the illusion of function with the help of a flashy website and good marketing, and often ignore scenarios or use cases that are actually helpful to your business. 

Gartner research about B2B Buying Behaviour and Owning Cycles shows that experience drives advocacy. This is great if your team is having a great experience, but clunky (or nonexistent) UX will lead to a garbage experience, and garbage advocacy. Is this what you want to invest in for your team?

So how can you avoid Vanity Apps?

  • Spend time uncovering the root cause of the problem you’re trying to solve

  • Make sure you’re solving the root cause of that problem, and not a small surface issue

  • Spend time with functional team members to learn the processes and workflows

  • Begin with the end in mind - think of the total solution you’d like to arrive at and work out how to get there

  • Change the subject to scenarios

  • Work with hardware-agnostic consultants and vendors to make sure you’re getting correct information

  • Avoid single-function apps or solutions

  • Avoid apps or programs that can’t (or won’t) integrate with other products

  • Don’t fall for flashy explainer videos or marketing collateral - work out exactly what they’re selling you, how it works, and how it will scale


Don't fall for Vanity Apps- invest in something that actually works.