The smart phone revolution has taken everything in its stride and mobile users are ruling the roost as far as application markets are concerned. As per the research carried out by Markets and Markets, the total global mobile applications market is expected to grow to $25 billion by the year 2015. Due to the low shelf life of the mobile apps, it is often believed by their developers and by organizations that mobile apps can be built as quick as possible, without much planning as the next best thing can replace them fairly easily. Hence, keeping this thought process in mind, many companies go about making mobile apps without any kind of rational mobile product lifecycle management. However, this approach is wrong and in the below write up some considerations for a better approach are given. But first let us understand what type of apps can be developed so that we have an in depth knowledge about them. This classification is not based on the groups that apps are classified such as sports, lifestyle, etc. but this classification is based on the architecture of different types of apps. Based on the architecture, the basic types of apps are:
Basic functionality apps: You can view such types of app as a hierarchy, like the opening screen has a broad list of topics and then you click on one and you have a new list of sub topics to look on to. Such type of apps are the easiest to build and design and are a good option for businesses who want a simple app that display all the basic info on the mobile screen.
Custom functionality apps: Such type of apps are used to creatively presenting content on your mobile app. You have to imagine a scenario where you have a lot of content that you want to use in the app that you are developing. An example would to display the various breeds of rice that are grown around the world. For such a type of app, it requires more than a table format. Development of such a type of app would depend upon whether you want the data to be native to the app that is housed in the app itself or in a dynamic format where the data is built into an online web service.
Games apps: This type of app has the largest amount of complexity start with basic programming to a 3D physics engine that powers high speed air racing. In addition, incorporating the user experience through the physical movement of the device and logging in the gaming center are all the functionalities that need to be incorporated in the gaming apps.
Enhancement firmware or hardware: In this type of app, the basic functionalities of the phone such as alarm, camera or flash are modified and made into something better. For example, the flash functionality of your camera phone can be used to function as a torch.
Fully dynamic apps: They are like database driven apps, they are of the kind that depend totally on external information such as stock market reports, temperature records, etc.
Custom utilities: In such type of apps, the defining feature is that they are designed to allowing the user to input content in a specific manner.
Systematic planning is important
In the beginning, you have to make the case for conceiving the app in the first place. Sometimes companies may believe that they need an app to stay ahead of the competition, but in reality a mobile friendly website is all what they need. However, once the business case is defined, the app development team gets involved. Take all the development inputs and the user feedback before releasing your app. You need time to release a good app. Like most software projects, the app development project needs updates, fixing of the bugs that are discovered and significant changes if not minor tweaks. Thus, agile methodologies should be utilized to incorporate the changes mentioned above and also the user feedback and results from the real world testing. Since customers have no need or tolerance for poor experiences, the pressure to get the app out in time as per the schedule and delivering a first class experience can be a daunting task.
You should also let a non tech savvy person test your app and if that person cannot go through you app or fails to accomplish the intended purpose of your app, then the interface of your app is too complex and you need to work the interface design to suit every type of user, not just the tech savvy segment of the users. You also need to test the hardware of the app and this can be accomplished by running multiple apps in the background, Bluetooth extensions and moving from a mobile network provider internet service to the Wi-Fi service and observe if the app performs optimally. Such kind of testing in real world scenarios should be incorporated in your app development schedule and both resources and time should be allocated for this real world testing since it forms an integral part of the app development.
Don’t worry about fragmentation and a lack of standardization
No platform is more fragmented than mobile. This translates into the outcome that your app development team must innovate as much functionality as possible to ensure a good user experience, keeping in view the fact that the operating system and the device landscape is bound to change anytime. In order to know which devices and operating systems you should optimize for, you should analyze your website traffic data in order to get a taste of your visitors and their most popular devices and platforms. After you have got the analytics data, you need to prioritize that for which platform and environment you are designing and your mobile app should be optimized for such platforms, however care should be taken to ensure that other minor platforms are not ignored.
Mobile is a great opportunity for your business
Some organizations may have missed the bus to maximize business productivity with mobile apps for their companies for different evaluation purposes. These days, all the workers of your business may be owing a mobile device/s. By designing an app, your company can learn exactly where the best touch points are and optimize the app design accordingly. Due to a mobile app, data in an enterprise can move more seamlessly, can be scaled without interruption and allow for reuse across applications. Issues that you may have ignored in your web architecture come into laser focus on a mobile app.
Final word of advice for the newbies
- Get user feedback early and as often as possible.
- Make every decision keeping in mind the touchscreen of your mobile device.
- Never shift your priorities from the users to your clients.
- Brace for the setbacks even before your app is launched.
- You should remember that the app you are development is a showcase of your work and an ambassador for the company for whom the app is being developed.