With the increase in the use of smartphones within business, there’s now a real incentive for businesses to mobilise their web sites and their line-of-business applications, such as accounts, marketing apps, and their CRM apps. However there are a number of key considerations to bear in mind before you commit to this strategy.
In the first of our guest viewpoints , David Akka, MD of UK, EIRE and Nordics, for cross platform development platform, Magic Software Enterprises, explores the top 10 tips for success when developing a mobile business application.
1. Get the business user involved – early.
Developers often build an application based on how they think it should work or what they think the requirements mean. Engage the end user early on to confirm your understanding of their needs – gaining early user feedback, can save time and money in the long run.
2. Develop for multiple platforms and form factors.
When planning an application, developers need to consider how and on what devices users will access the application. Will it be used on the desktop, mobile or in the cloud, and if on a mobile which mobile? Developing applications that only work on one platform will limit their reach; if you are only targeting a single platform, design the application with future migration to other platforms in mind.
3. Remember scale and screen size.
Developers need to think about how their application will look on a mobile device. Applications that are to be used on multiple devices need to scale beyond one screen size.
4. Clear is beautiful.
Knowing how an application looks in different work environments is key to ensuring good usability. When designing, developers need to make colour choices that take into consideration different light and displays.
5. Concentrate on connectivity to back-end systems.
Mobile brings added complexity in terms of connectivity. The challenge is to effectively and efficiently connect front-end transactions to back-end systems where availability of a network connection cannot always be guaranteed. Think carefully about data synchronisation and managing transactions with back end systems.
6. Recognise a mobile device’s limits.
A mobile application can’t be expected do everything a full application can do and needs to be as straightforward as possible to understand and operate. Mobile applications with good usability and a clear focus are more likely to succeed.
7. Ensure that the application looks good.
As consumers, all of us are becoming accustomed to highly usable, feature-rich applications on our smartphones. User expectations of mobile applications are rising too and it will be harder to gain traction with a user community if the user interface is awkward.
8. Create a consistent user experience.
Business applications must provide a consistent user experience, whether on a Windows device, iPhone, BlackBerry or Android. All applications need to work on both small and large screens. Users don’t like applications that offer different formats, buttons, navigation etc. across multiple devices. Developing an application where functionality is consistent across devices reduces end-user confusion and frustration.
9. Make the most of mobile.
Mobile applications should take advantage of mobile-specific features that desktop equivalents cannot offer e.g. GPS for location-aware functions or routing.
10. Test, test, test.
Finally, as budgets get tighter, companies tend to find it easier to cut back on prototyping and QA in order to speed up development and get applications out of the door – particularly if the market is rapidly evolving. Developers need to ensure that mobile applications are not only highly usable, but meet the performance and consistency standards workers are accustomed to with their desktop or laptop applications.
These tips have been gathered through Magic Software’s work with mobile application developers.
Magic Software is currently asking developers to sign up to its new free full application platform, uniPaaS Jet if you want to sign up then just click here.