10 things to consider when developing your first mobile app
1. Keep it simple. Most mobile apps try to do too much. Don’t try and be all things to all people. Instead, identify a minimally viable product and start there. Stripping functionality down initially is a good thing. For customer-facing apps this enables you to enter the market more quickly, refine and iterate. For internal apps, this allows you to test the water and gather feedback from your staff.
2. Get to know what is out there. Install and use apps which have similar functionality, get your team to try them and make a note of what people do and don’t like.
3. What is the user need? Get to know the end user and how they work. Before starting to draw any designs or write any code, think hard about what the end user of the app actually wants to achieve. Try writing down simple 1 line stories, for example “As a user I want to be able to… so that I can ……”
4. In mobile, context is king. Does the app need to run without an Internet connection? How does it integrate with real-world workflows? Will using the device be a secondary activity to a primary task? In industrial settings, does the user need to be able to use the app one handed?
5. Continuously involve the user. For internal enterprise apps, create a user focus group, ideally with as diverse a range of technical skills as possible. These people will also help promote and champion your strategy internally.
6. Which platforms? iOS, Android, Windows Phone. Most consumer apps are built for iOS first then Android. Will your app be running on corporately issued devices or personally owned? Find out which devices your users have. Ask your developers if they use cross-platform development methods such as Xaramin.
7. Backend. Will your app need to share data between users or access real-time information? Will your app need to access existing systems or data? Do these already have APIs (application programming interfaces) that can be utilised? This typically isn’t as complicated as you’d expect.
8. Security. Mobile apps should be treated as essential part of the wider enterprise ecosystem. Don’t undo your existing security best practices. Good user education and guidance can be as effective as technical mitigations.
9. Measure success. How many people do you want using your app once live? Will this decrease your costs? Will this increase customer adoption and retention? Will this reduce internal process? Will it reduce paperwork and printing costs? Identify criteria to measure success and map these to your business objectives.
10. Budget. Typically a “how long is a piece of string question”. Plan for multiple releases. Users expectations, business benefits, and opportunities from new technology will quickly evolve.
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