Build a Better App

With the ability now to publish any application on the Yahoo! homepage via the Yahoo! Application Platform (YAP), we've received numerous requests on what guidelines and best practices developers should follow to increase their chance of promotion and exposure to all Yahoo! users.

To help, we've published a set of Best Practices for Application development here on YDN. The guide is comprised of seven sections, each containing links to live Apps demonstrating these principles:

  1. Helping Users Discover Your Application
    Yahoo! is a big place, so be sure to maximize your App's reach across the network: leverage Yahoo!'s sharing components; describe your App (and yourself) in a clear, differentiated manner; promote the App on your site, Twitter stream, Facebook fan page, etc.; and provide a signed-out experience so that the largest potential userbase can fall in love with your App.
  2. Providing a Better Initial Experience
    Regardless of your App's function, be sure to provide some level of utility to users on its initial load. Also, make sure your interface leverages existing data whenever possible (via YML, YQL, and other data sources), asking the user for personal information only when certain you don't already have access.
  3. Optimizing the Views
    Yahoo! offers both a Small View (widget-sized) and Canvas View (full page) to developers, affording opportunities to present quick, at-a-glance snippets of information as well as rich, immersive environments.
  4. Making Applications Social
    Many Apps can become significantly more enjoyable when populated with your friends. Yahoo! offers APIs for our Social Directory, providing access to rich profile data and friends' lists, as well as an ever-growing footprint for our Updates user event/activity stream. Leverage both effectively to make your App experience richer while also making your App more visible to folks not currently using it.
  5. Respecting Your Users
    Trust is a serious issue for Yahoo! users. They can be turned off to using your App quickly if you don't adhere to several tenets when building your experience.
  6. Improving Performance
    Yahoo! has long pioneered the Web performance space. As such, users on the network expect quick responses to their every interaction. Dig in to techniques that can enhance both the actual and perceived performance of your App to ensure a quick-acting experience for your users.
  7. Optimizing Your Application for the Gallery
    Both the Yahoo! homepage and My Yahoo! offer users a mechanism to find and add new Apps to their pages. To ensure your App stands out from the crowd, follow these simple steps to making your App discoverable.

Now with this guide in hand, we hope to minimize any confusion developers may have around how to quickly get their App out in front of Yahoo!'s hundreds of millions of users. Still have questions? Check out our Getting Started guide, App platform documentation, code examples, and user-to-user forums. (If you're just getting started, too, don't forget to take advantage of Joyent's free year of hosting for YAP development.)

We (and Yahoo!'s users) look forward to seeing your App on Yahoo! soon.

Micah Laaker
Director of User Experience, Yahoo! Open Strategy