|What devices & form factors are you designing for?|
Mobile doesn’t simply mean phones and tablets anymore. We need to think about additional form factors capable of providing mobile benefits. Watches and other wearables are a new favorite with millions of devices shipped each year. Tablets now come in new flavors too – both adult and kid-friendly versions - each with their own delivery models. Kiosks pose a unique set of challenges for uptime, quality, and thoughtful user experiences. Devices that in the past relied upon custom embedded solutions now run market standard mobile operating systems like Android. Just look at gas pumps, ATMs, and even your home cable or satellite box. So, when building an app it’s important to determine which devices to target and plan accordingly.
|What are your platform options?|
Today’s most common mobile platforms are Android and iOS, with roughly 75% and 25% of the world-wide mobile market share respectively. In the United States iOS has a nearly 44% share, with Android at roughly 57%. This provides the perception that iOS is as popular as Android in a country whose consumers have money to spend. However, step outside the US and that changes significantly. Look at China: 80% Android, and 20% iOS. Barring a device-specific feature requirement, this translates to a need to target both platforms for successful market penetration.
The traditional development route has been to build one “native” iOS app and one Android app. This required the iOS app to be written in one of Apple’s programming languages, and the Android app to be written in one approved by Google. The work effort associated with one platform would rarely translate to or benefit the other due to the language barrier. Adding insult to injury, the back-end often is written in yet another programming language with still another incompatible framework. This leads to high development costs and even higher technical debt.
Modern app development is assisted by platforms capable of using a single language to build native apps for all major platforms. These solutions are often called “cross-platform” and include the likes of Xamarin and React Native. They enable “write once, run anywhere,” faster time to market, and higher app quality, without the traditional approaches’ technical overhead and costs.
|Is your service provider scalable?|
Push notifications, online and offline data synchronization, federated identities, even media streaming – there are many services outside simply project code that affects an app’s use and scalability. Thankfully, most cloud service providers can handle these in one place, keeping your costs and resource management in check. When shopping for a service provider, ensure they offer all or most of the capabilities you need. Additionally, ensure your app is built with the ability to change services as needed and as business demands change.
|What will be your primary app experience?|
Mobile apps tend to be good at doing one thing well. A good example of this is Facebook which has two major apps – Facebook proper, and Facebook Messenger. For the standalone Facebook app, it’s about sharing and checking in on friends. Facebook Messenger, on the other hand, excels at communicating. Technically, they’re both Facebook. Each app does one thing very well. Know what your audience wants to do “on-the-go” and satisfy that need in a tremendously effective fashion with user experience-led design. You need to identify those unique experiences before building your app or, in some cases, apps.
|How will you outshine the competition?|
A mobile app can be a slam dunk when you’re the only provider of your service. In many cases, however, there’s competition to consider. Make sure to review other on-market solutions available in the app stores, or even as mobile-optimized websites. Explore the app and mobile sites from a customer’s point of view, read app store reviews and determine which user experience they are focusing on. Completing a competitive assessment assists you in planning capabilities for your app that set you above the rest. This is your “unfair advantage” over other players – the tasks your solution accomplishes better than everybody else.
Moving ForwardDoing the leg work up front to have a clear answer to each of these questions can save significant development costs and change management headaches down the road and also ensure you design an app that your users love. Targeting the proper form factor, platform, service providers, and audience, and adjusting based on competitive forces can maximize the success of the project from the get-go. Valorem Reply can provide a sanity check and a path forward with our custom Modern Application Development, User Experience and Digital Strategy solutions. No matter where you are in your app design and development process, our experts can help expedite the process and maximize adoption. Ask about our Xamarin Service Offering to create cross-platform apps!