Today, Mobile Application Development is in hot demand. With thousands of resources and developers out there, it can be hard to find one place to start when considering the development of your app. Here are a few key tips that I recommend you consider throughout the design and development process:
Plan Your Strategy
Before jumping into any design or coding, there should be a high level of cooperation and planning between the design and development teams as well as the party you are developing the app for.
Consider your business objectives for creating your app:
• If you are a restaurant that wants to create an app, include an up-to-date menu that users can see that can speed up the ordering process
• If you’re a retail company and you want an in-house app designed to improve operations, design an app that plays a key role in managing tasks in your business.
A solid strategy at the beginning of the design process will drive the features and content that will go into the app in the future.
Keep It Simple
Keep the content and images you provide on your mobile application as simple as possible. This doesn’t mean cutting down on functionality or what you are presenting in the app, but keep in mind that working with a variety of different screen dimensions on mobile devices as opposed to the standard desktop computer resolution. If you still have a lot of information you have to convey, break it up into several pages that you can easily navigate to on a smaller screen.
Choose Your Framework
The framework you chose will be the backbone of your application. There are a good amount of mobile development frameworks, most notably Sencha Mobile and jQuery Mobile. You can either use a full platform that will tailor to all your design and architectural needs of the app or mix or match frameworks that work together.
If you’re the developer choose frameworks that you’re most comfortable with and understand its ins and outs to get the best results out of your product. All the frameworks out there have a dedicated community of developers and sophisticated documentation that you can get 24/7 access to.
User Experience is Key
Always think about the users who are going to be using your product. They will make or break your app (or more importantly your brand). Consider the target audience’s age, social use, and most importantly, knowledge of technology. Boomers will not respond to a particular app the same way Gen Y will.
Make sure the app behaves like it should: If it has knobs, make sure you use turning gestures to stay true to the behavior as much as possible. If you have a back button, make sure it slides backwards instead of forward. Use the colors from the designs you have chosen and incorporate them as information highlights, indicators and notifications as well.
From a strategic standpoint, provide exclusive content with the app that allows you to enhance your brand. Make it an outlet for the users and your potential customers to get their hands on exclusive deals and allows them to be engaged in what you are trying to achieve.
Test, Test, Test
I couldn’t stress it enough! Test for every possible bug that may occur when using your app: From transitions to user interaction all bases should be covered. If you plan to monetize your application, you don’t want to put out shoddy work that consumers will have to pay for.
If you are developing a web based app or a hybrid, Google Chrome and FireFox have very good developer tools that allow you to test and trouble shoot in their browsers. An XCode provides a great app emulator for iOS apps that you can test on as well.
Also keep in mind Mobile Apps are intended to be iterative, so you should always come out with a better version of your app every few months that address known bugs.
There are a lot of things to consider when designing a mobile application, but all these things and more are what will separate your app from the rest of the pack. Collaborate with graphic designers or let your colleagues play with the app before distribution. This will give you quality feedback on the changes that need to be made in order to make your app the best it can be. Remember you are about to submitting your app win a store filled with thousands of others, so you should make it stand out as much as possible. When you are finally done with your app, take pride in what you have created. Use available means to market the app and create as much buzz as possible.