When you introduce a new smartphone app, you're asking your clientele to interact with your brand in an unfamiliar way. So how do you encourage early adoption among your best customers? With great design, of course—and it doesn't hurt if you get there ahead of your competitors. "[O]ne of the benefits of being somewhat early to a market is getting to define what an entirely new experience means for a person," writes Seth Priebatsch at the FC Expert Blog.

So before you get started, consider tips like these:

Keep it simple. Your design should be elegant and streamlined, but—warns Priebatsch—not too simple. A minimalist layout with a few icons at the bottom might actually cause confusion if users can't figure out what they do.

Create a memorable and consistent experience. Consider the LevelUp app, which enables users to pay retail merchants with a unique QR code on their phone. "[T]he dock authenticates the user, authenticates the merchant, and glows a color as a visual confirmation that all is secure and the transaction is legitimate on both ends," he notes. Customers accomplish their goal with whimsy and practicality.

Help users "get it" right away. Ease customers into the experience with straightforward instructions that guide them through the process. And don't make unnecessary demands. Priebatsch praises the Pulse app for letting users play with its functionality before ever asking them to register for an account.

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