Mobile applications development services are revolutionizing business today – enabling new business and revenue models, driving new operational efficiencies, opening doors for collaboration and new levels of customer and employee engagement.
The growing adoption and usage of mobile devices has rendered primary computer usage a thing of the past. Information of all kinds must now be made readily available via a variety of devices for customers and employees. And these mobile applications must be created with the end user in mind – whether it’s being designed for B2B, B2E or B2C.
This paper provides a detailed view of how mobile application development is different from traditional web application development. It looks at the new process requirements and provides guidance on creating an optimal strategy for your enterprise. We take you through best practices in mobile application development, the right platforms and technologies to support your efforts and considerations for end user targeting and user experience.
The Mobile Revolution is Already Well Underway
By 2020, there will be more than 50 billion connected devices across planet earth enabling our ‘smarter’ existence. (Source: Gartner)
At work, 18% of employees use 3 devices and 22% use 2 – with more than 56% using 3 or more. (Source: Forrester)
70% of mobile professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018 (Source: Gartner)
65% consumers download business-specific apps for more convenient access to information (Source: Salesforce – 2014 Mobile Behavior Report)
The number of devices managed in the enterprise increased 72% from 2014 to 2015 (Source: Citrix Mobile Analytics Report, Feb 2015)
Enterprises in virtually every industry are racing to expand their use of mobile to enable new customer experiences, increase employee productivity and stay ahead of their competition. Enterprise mobility is quickly becoming a highly strategic investment for most enterprises – one that impacts most if not all core functions within an enterprise.
Access to information on the go has become an expected and standard part of life. Applications must now cater to individual target audiences within the realm of mobile. Each of these applications must solve the specific needs of its target audience. There is also a unique and fast growing mobile ecosystem that must be accounted for – adding to both the opportunities for the enterprise as well as the challenges for mobile application development.
Emerging challenges in mobile application development
Building applications for mobile is a fundamentally different endeavor than traditional enterprise applications. And with the non-stop introduction of new devices and technologies, the landscape will continue to shift.
Here is a checklist of important considerations for your mobile application development team
What devices to target
How to create simple, effective applications
How to secure all the data being transferred
How to create a suitable user experience
Consider backend integration and offline capabilities on mobile
Consider network issues, data syncs, and device management issues
The application has to be designed to support multiple OS’s and many versions. It should be able to run and render seamlessly on iOS, Android, Windows (and maybe even Blackberry) and the corresponding devices that support these platforms.
Mobile devices come in multiple smaller sizes, making the navigation scheme within the application very challenging. With the wide variety of devices, the app needs to be designed and customized to the specifications of each one’s resolutions and orientation.
Each operating system has its own custom architecture. Different mobile platforms provide varied degrees of support to secure data stored on the device. However, mobile application developers need to account for security of data irrespective of the platform and the device.
Network & Storage
Network & Storage
Devices may have limited storage or working memories, unpredictable network connectivity, limited coverage and/or varied network bandwidth. A mobile developer must keep these issues in mind when designing an application.
mobile application development
Keeping up with the fast-paced requirements of mobile application development requires a different approach to design, development, delivery and deployment for most enterprises. Whether you are building B2B, B2E or B2C applications, the following mobile application development best practices can help your team accelerate your efforts, your adoption and your success in the marketplace.
Design & Development
Application design is key to creating a rich user experience. Some of the critical requirements include a consistent UI design, compatibility with other applications, highly structured workflows and simple navigation structures. The overall architecture of the solution must be constructed to create a usable and efficient application.
We recommend an iterative design process involving all elements of the mobile team – development, design and testing. This becomes especially critical in cross-platform applications when multiple changes need to be made in parallel on different OS’s. The design needs to be simple and intuitive with minimum options on the screen. SDKs may be different, however developers should verify that they are able to use widely used testing, reporting and project management tools across all the required platforms.
APPLICATION USABILITY TESTING
Every mobile application requires a detailed look at how it renders on different mobile devices. There are various issues when creating and testing applications for mobile browser compatibilities, screen real estate, orientations, fonts, form factors, forms, notifications, and geo-locations. To address this:
Ensure an end-to-end service when running usability testing in a controlled environment by assigning a very talented UX team.
Develop a set of attributes that can be tested continuously.
Finalize the prototype, set up the testing rig, moderate and observe the test.
Analyze the design, and continuously improve it.
Mobile applications do not always run in a connected environment and it becomes increasingly important to incorporate analytics features to track user interaction.
Identifying the key performance indicators and finding the right tools to assess and correct performance based on consumer interaction is critical. For example, are people finding and using your application? How engaged are they? How do you retain customers? As the mobile adoption rates increase, and as it becomes a preferred way to access information, it will also become a very critical marketing channel.
A few metrics to keep in mind with mobile application analytics:
Keep track of total downloads, total number of app users, the active user rate (the ratio of the number of app users to the total downloads), and new users (the number of users that first used the app during a period of time).
Customer Engagement in High-Value Activities
Measure what the customer is doing with the app. Capture the user characteristics of the audience you’re trying to reach and the user activities that generate revenue and brand engagement for your business.
The frequency of visits (the ratio of the number of visits to the number of users over a period of time), depth of visit (the number of screens viewed on average compared to the number of visits), duration (the amount of time spent on the application) and bounce rate (the ratio of the number of user visits with a single view event to the total number of visits).
Customer Retention & Encouragement
Increase stickiness by staying relevant and up to date. Capitalize on other channels. Don’t rely on customers finding you by chance. Get direct insight from customers on what they think about your app and its features.
The rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets within the enterprise has overwhelmed IT and security managers as they struggle to support an expanding number of devices and technologies while mitigating risk to the enterprise.
Mobile devices need additional support when it comes to security by using the platform’s inherent security capabilities and using other tools for managing access control, authentication, encryption, remote wipe and anti-malware. Important considerations include:
Keep IT in Control
It’s important to let IT control what data users can access with their mobile devices, including back-office systems, formalized user groups and blocked access to devices that don’t have a management client installed.
Administrators should be allowed to remove all the data from any stolen or last device remotely. Device inventory should be maintained to make sure that no unauthorized device is able to connect to the network.
Encryption, Authentication & Malware
Add on-device password and over-the-air data encryption to enforce authentication that needs to be done so that data exchange is fully protected. Users should be able to make sure that their devices are in compliance and limit the introduction of malware through spam and unauthorized apps. Automatically updating antivirus, firewall protection, and security patches need to be provided to all mobile users in the enterprise.
Keep mobile app development ahead of the mobile revolution
Organizations should look at application development from a strategic perspective. Consider the overall role of mobile in your business and the specific target audience and end goal of each application – early in the process. Apexon Corporation has worked with hundreds of leading organizations to help them stay ahead of the curve by executing this approach.