In the fast paced, ever changing mobile industry, “it is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” This quote by W. Edwards Deming perfectly fits sums up how quickly businesses are having to learn, build, launch, learn, adapt, and repeat.
In a recent study by Rackspace, who partnered with Manchester School of Business, businesses said they are investing in mobile app development not just to reach consumers, but also to aid efficiency for employees who work on the go. Over the past five years, we’ve seen a notable blurring of the lines between our work and personal lives. Smartphones, paired with mobile apps, create the ease of accessibility, productivity, and connectivity, but it’s not an easy space to enter.
Entering the mobile space requires strategy, but most importantly an understanding of these eight factors prior to entering the space:
Build the Right App
1. Make your app easy to use and valuable to the user
It’s easy to get mired down in features, functionality, and creative design. A common flaw in the design process is wanting to put you have into an app, but mobile devices are meant for quick access to information or utilities. Users are walking, between meetings, in elevators, traveling – apps need to provide what the user needs and nothing else. Ease of use partnered with quality content makes for a valuable app. Make it easy, build it to solve a problem. It’s. That. Simple.
2. Mobile is NOT an island
Mobile apps are not meant to be standalone pieces of your brand. Today, no element of your marketing mix is more important than the others, and users are more likely than ever to experience all of them. You need to connect the pieces so that mobile users are aware of your non-mobile offerings. Do you have a website? Do you have an online store? Social media networks? (If not, give us a call!) The messaging that your brand puts out should be consistent on the mobile app. An app is just as important as your social networks, which are just as important as your website. Keep them connected.
3. Track mobile users
Establish trackable metrics that mean the most to your business. What app features are people using the most? What are they (oh no!) complaining about? Are they taking advantage of coupons? It’s important to establish these measurements (and possible solutions) upfront, so that you can track and adjust accordingly.
4. Know the platform
Are you going with iOS? Android? Tablets? Mini-tablets? Windows Phone? BlackBerry? Are you looking for a cross-platform app? If you decide to build in-house, or hire a lone developer, you’ll need to do a lot of research to understand what platforms are right for your app, based on how people use each category of device, who uses each, when, and why. Understanding these differences will help you make decisions on platform and even device specifications, and what functionality the app will ultimately have. When working with apps, one size does not fit all.
5. Create a seamless experience
“Where am I? What is this?” If your users are frustrated and saying these things when trying to use your app, it’s time to evaluate your UX. UX includes the look, tone, feel, layout, and structure of the app. And it all needs to be consistent with each platform’s standards, as well as follow general mobile principles. Users also need to know that they are on YOUR app – not your competitor’s. When you’re designing the user experience, it should be branded, but the most important factor is ease of use.
6. Native or Web?
Native apps are very different from web apps (also known as mobile-optimized websites). There’s a common misconception that they are synonyms, and those less familiar with the technology may use the terms interchangeably. However, they are unique and have different pros and cons. Again, here’s where research becomes not only helpful, but necessary. Of course, if you choose to go our personal favorite direction, if you’re relying on a digital agency partner, they can share a lot of their expertise and research to help determine which direction to go.
Here are just a few of the key differences to keep in mind:
7. Web design is not mobile design
Design is NOT just design. You don’t ask for a website design when you are building a mobile app. Mobile app design is very precise for iOS and has specific requirements as well as standard styles, layouts, buttons, and fonts. If you’re designing for Android, there’s a bevy of factors to consider, the biggest being which devices, and screen sizes, of the hundreds out there, you plan to support.
8. Strive for repeat use
Repeat users mean that the app is useful. Whether it’s a B2C, B2B, or an internal enterprise app, repeat usage is a great sign you’ve got something good. Keep it up if you’re achieving this, and be sure to check in with your audience for feedback from time to time to make sure the app remains valuable.