Mobile App Success Story: How Monument Valley Did It -

Mobile App Success Story: How Citymapper Did It

Did you ever occur that one of your problems can be a concern of many persons around you? If yes, maybe the solution that works for your will improve the lives of the other ones who struggle with the same issue. What if you would refine it and you could find an easy way to share it with a great number of people? Or, better yet, you should build an app around it. If we just gave you an idea for a business that might work, then read further to discover the trajectory of Citymapper, a transportation app, which was named by Apple the app of the year so many years in a row.

Brilliant Idea

To understand better how a personal problem can generate a successful app you need to discover how Azmat Yusuf built a great application which is used now by the majority of people who live or arrive in many big cities of the world. After struggling to get from one place to another in London he observed that he wasn’t the only one in that situation. Therefore, he created an app for himself and everybody else to reach their destination in a fast way. Citymapper was originally named Busmapper but when he added data about trains and plains it was transformed in Citymapper and launched in 2012 for iOS devices. After a year it was available as an Android app. You know what they say, the rest is history. Well, if you don’t know it then we are going to reveal it in the next minutes.

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How Citymapper Did It

When you feel the stress of being in a new city then this transit app helps you to reach again your happy mood. But, let’s see the path followed by Citymapper on the way to success.

User – Centric Design

This is the focal point of our entire demonstration. Building a useful and intuitive app generated all the other growth hacks for Citymapper. It is not enough to find a solution to a problem. It is mandatory to make that solution accessible for your audience. And the way the team behind Citymapper managed to reach this result is extraordinary. Just observe the screen where users read all the information for deciding the best route for their destination. Using a language for humans not computers it is the right method for convincing customers to pay attention to what your app is telling them. You know how hard is to make people to opt – in for receiving notifications. In this case users observe that it is the best choice for receiving all the needed information.

Free App

Because Citymapper is free and without meaningful methods for generating revenue the only financial source comes from investors. And everything is used for the growth of the app. It was initially available for London users but it was updated constantly to cover the most overcrowded cities on Earth. And the plans don’t stop here. There are other users from many cities which could take advantage of these useful services. There is also a form that can be completed by everyone who wants to bring the app in his hometown. By the way, look at the characters displayed for each city. Funny and engaging, right?

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Awards, Nominalizations And More Awards

It appears that we talk only about awarded apps but our point is to reveal the stories behind successful apps and maybe these trophies are the measurements of success. Without doubt, this image represents the dream of every app owner, no matter if it is day or night. Of course, these results come after years of hard work but they are so rewarding!

Apple Watch

When you receive all the prizes and awards it is great because you feel that your work is really appreciated but when Apple experts use your app for presenting to the world one of its products it is even more impressive. For Citymapper a great realization was in 2014 when it was one of the first apps available for Apple Watch. And it makes sense this partnership because the potential buyers of such device are living in big and crowded cities. They all need directions for reaching from one place to another. Using Apple Watch along with Citymapper allows them to swipe up quickly for the information they need and to receive notifications according to their location. The point is that the team behind the Citymapper observed the differences between using a phone and a watch and they adapted the app for a more improved experience.

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Open Data

It is all about helping people and reaching the main purpose of making transportation data even more accessible. Not only that but the algorithms gather elements from multiple sources like cab companies or weather forecasts. While he developed his app, Azmat Yusuf understood how challenging is to receive all the information needed. This is the reason why the team built many tools and API which allow other developers to integrate the services provided by Citymapper into their own apps or sites.

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Keep It Green

A collateral advantage provided by Citymapper is to reduce pollution. That happens because of the way the app is built. When you know that it is very easy to use public transportation you will leave your car in the garage and you will choose the subway. Besides that, users are encouraged to walk whenever possible or to take the bike. The following snippet is the hilarious description of what’s new in the most recent version on Apple App Store page. Look what is saying while others use this section for announcing that they “removed errors”. What not to like at this app?


You know the benefits of building a story around your app, don’t you? While all app owners focus their efforts to share all their thoughts about their products on social media like Facebook, Instagram or YouTube, or they create a blog on their own website, Citymapper team members chose a different path and they post all the ideas and novelties on Medium. For the ones who don’t know (if there’s any), Medium is a popular platform where you can get lost for hours jumping from an article to another. Posting content on Medium is very efficient and the style adopted by Citymapper editor is so captivating with smart jokes here and there that you will want to read the stories even if you’ll never need that information.

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Bonus Tip: Expand Your Business

If you reached Citymapper’s page on Medium, you saw that in May, this year, a blog post announced the Citymapper Bus which is an attempt to improve the transportation system and a solution for a lighter infrastructure in London. The creator of Citymapper doesn’t point to the factors that don’t work well in a city when people get lost in an era with so many possibilities available, but he tries to understand the problems and to offer real answers. By expanding the services provided from an app to real automobiles, Azmat Yusuf gives an example of how things should work.

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It was an interesting journey to discover the way Citymapper reached this amazing success. You probably understood by now the most important requirement for a great app but we repeat it over and over again. Building an app that allows users to access the needed information in a quick and easy way is the core of all strategies. If you managed to complete this stage, the rest will come for sure making your users to adore your work.


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