Are you feeling intimidated by the “Mobile to overtake fixed Internet access by 2014” headline or are you startled by the stats suggesting that in 2013 there will be 81.4 billion downloads of apps? Before you press the panic button and come up with a hastily rolled out mobile strategy—remember a faulty or poorly developed app could harm you more in the long run. So take a deep breath and think before you react. I have seen companies committing same mistakes again and again and it is frustrating to see developers hitting these pitfalls repeatedly.
In this article, I will be discussing the common blunders in mobile development strategy. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Mobile Website or Mobile Application?
It is very important to analyze your business requirements, consumer’s preferences, and demographics before you decide on whether to go for mobile website or app. Consumers are becoming aware of the fact that mobile apps could be battery hogs and drain the overall performance of a mobile device. As a result, more and more consumers avoid installing app and rather prefer visiting company’s mobile website to find relevant information about products/services or make price comparisons. It is very important for an organization to decide will it be more advantageous to have a mobile app or simply a mobile optimized site or both.
Don’t emulate trends, don’t ape Competitor App. Just focus on Creating Unique App for users
Trends in mobile technology are rapidly changing. What is a rage today might be hopelessly outdated in a couple of months. The plight of a developer is certainly an unenviable one. In this mad rush to stay updated and grapple with constant technological changes, developers often forget the cardinal rule of developing an app that focuses on user experience.
Do your own thing; ignore stats and trends, go against the tide if required, and above all think about what the end user needs from what you’re creating. Don’t just be a blind follower of trends. Focus on user behavior and make your mobile app unique.
With a market that is probably extremely saturated with apps in your category, it is often very intimidating to follow market leaders. However as a developer, you need to think different. Right from the conception and planning stage, you need to come up with ways of how your app is going to be different from the rest of the apps in the category. If you want your apps to grab eyeballs and catch attention of users, dare to be different. Users love innovation.
Security is Paramount
Each mobile OS be it the iOS, Android, Windows or BlackBerry have their platform specific security provisions. As a developer you need to weigh the pros and cons of each OS and ensure that security loopholes are addressed. Get your apps tested against hack attacks. Two of the most malicious hacks attacks are XSS which steals passwords, logins, cookies and SQLi which steals or deletes information from corporate databases.
You need to work on following things:
- Don’t collect or keep information you don’t need.
- Research and adapt your code.
- Remember what works for one does not work for another.
- Create confidential credentials securely.
- Transit encryption for usernames, passwords, and other confidential data.
Don’t store confidential information on App
Every developer has to taken into account vulnerability surrounding mobile devices. Mobiles can fall in wrong hands if lost or stolen. Developers should take into account the sensitivity involved during the making of an app. Never store personal information such as customer details, username or password on app. Ideally, information should be erased from the server once user logs out and retrieved from the server only when user logs in the app.
Less gimmicks, keep it simple
It is critical to understand that each and every user of mobile app is different and has a fixed set of expectation from app. Majority of mobile users are obsessed with speed and want to find relevant information at a whirlwind speed and appreciate apps which allow effortless browsing. This is why; you will need to ensure that a user is able to navigate your app’s information with few swipes, pinches, key presses, clicks taps and nudges.
It’s all about user experience. Make it quick and easy. Entering and finding information in smartphones is tedious and users are often multi-tasking. Minimum errors and fast load time are crucial.
The functionality of the mobile app should be in sync with the needs of users. Remember a mobile app has limited screen space as compared to traditional desktop or laptop. You need to ensure that information is prioritized and presented to user in most effective and compelling manner that increases the level of user engagement.
Rise above Apple. Think Big
You can’t make an app for only the iPhone and relax. By merely focusing on Apple you are missing out on the rapidly increasing user base of Android. It is important to understand platforms your customers use and develop apps specifically to meet their needs. Think cross platform.
Testing, Testing, & a lot more Testing
Often in the race against time, the most important aspect of application testing is overlooked. Applications should be tested rigorously with multiple browsers and on multiple carrier to check that they can handle both online and offline use. They should be tested not only for power consumption, but also for battery hog, data usage and security risks. Emulators are great, but certainly cannot replace real testing on devices by people.
Bad apps affect the performance of the device and battery; increases user’s bill; and might have damaging consequences for company’s reputation in the long run.
Different mobile devices have different capabilities and limitations. Key to successful mobile strategy is not fighting the constraints of mobile rather working with them to get robust solutions. Maintain consistency of look and feel. The functionality and visual images may be different, but the experience should be spontaneous and familiar.