Creating an App that will be Invaluable to Users
The mobile age is heavily driven by the use of apps. Developing a business app that is functional and adds user value is absolutely vital.
Plenty has been written about the importance of thinking “mobile first” in today’s online world. We have all seen the statistics telling us that the vast majority of online activity is via mobile platforms. But what might be less obvious to us is exactly how people interact with the internet from their smartphones.
Sure, we all have mobile browsers that we use from time to time, but when you think about it, how much time do we actually spend “surfing the net” on Chrome or Safari? The answer is very little – in fact, more than 80 percent of smartphone use is via apps. When you put all that together, it becomes clear that mobile app development needs to be a core component of any digital marketing strategy. Here are some rules to help get it right.
Understand user needs
It is easy to get swept up in developing an app that encompasses a company’s ethos and brand image, but if it is designed purely from an introspective company perspective it becomes nothing more than a vanity project. Few will install it, and of those that do, few will use it. The most important thing in app development is to stand in the shoes of the user, understand what he or she wants from the app and set performance criteria and priorities accordingly.
Optimise for multiple devices
You will most likely be thinking iOS and Android for your app, but that is only the beginning. Android devices, in particular, come in a wide range of types, with different screen resolutions and performance capabilities. The key to a good app is that it looks world class on a top-end device but still performs reliably to the lowest common denominator.
Be in it for the long haul
If you think a business app is something you can set and forget, prepare to be disappointed. Your app will need ongoing maintenance and continuous improvement, and that is something you need to budget for in terms of both time and money. Follow the KISS principle from the outset, and you will save yourself a world of pain later. That means keeping the coding, language and processes as simple and intuitive as possible.
Test, test and test again
Never underestimate the human capacity to break things. Different people use and interact with mobile apps in different ways, and the more stringent and exhaustive your testing regime, the more robust the app is going to be in the long term. Strive to replicate real-world movements and gestures as much as possible to keep the testing meaningful.
Striking a balance
Every app developer is constantly waging an internal war between keeping things functional and letting their creativity come to the fore. There is no simple answer to striking the right balance, but a good team working together will intuitively know what is right. As a simple rule of thumb, ask whether a feature of the app has benefits and adds value to the overall project. If it does, that’s great, but if not, consider scrapping it.