Mobile App Development: Questions To Ask Upfront

Users want their consumer experiences personalized, which brings both a challenge for modern marketers and an opportunity to get to know every individual in a personal way. Given the opportunity, more and more companies want to develop applications that can link them to their customer. When considering such an application, you need to have several questions answered before the first line of code is written.

Purpose Of The App

Applications aid customer engagement on a personal level. Because of this, you need to ask, “What is the purpose of the app for the customer?” Is it to enhance the overall brand experience? Or is it to aid sales of a brand’s products and/or services? Whatever the reason, aligning the purpose with customer need is of major importance when considering deployment, adoption, and growth. Brands exist to solve problems (for customers). Will the app being created attain this objective?

How Many Platforms Do You Intend On Supporting?

This question boils down to three options: native mobile app, web application development, or hybrid app development. Before deciding on which would be better, it is important to understand the differences in each.

  • Native Mobile Apps: These applications are native to a specific platform. For example, iOS apps are available exclusively on Apple and are available to be purchased through the Apple Store. The strong point of native apps is that updates and improvements are effortless to implement and the user experience is relatively better.
  • Web Application Development: These applications can work on various platforms and are usually cheaper to develop and easier to deploy. Because these apps are not linked to a specific environment or device, they can’t take advantage of the benefits of being native (access to phone features, automatic updates, etc.). This can inherently affect the customer experience in a negative way.
  • Hybrid App Development: These applications associate elements from both native and web-based development, and are available for purchase within app stores. The asset of a hybrid app is that there is a native customer experience combined with the ability to run the application on more than one platform. One problem that hybrid apps can have results from them being housed in a native container, making most of the functions web-based and dependent upon a stable internet connection to run properly. Additionally, different devices have different display configurations.

When considering the platform, think of customer needs first. Once the concept of the app has been explored against the need/desire of the customer, it may be easier to choose the type of platform to run it.

Security

To condense, security is very important. Mobile software, by definition, exists outside of the local software environment (especially with enterprise environments). Without sufficient security measures in place to manage the ongoing threats, the app can act as a door for potential hackers with minimal skill to wreak devastation on internal servers and IT processes. Notice the key language here regarding “ongoing threats.” It’s not a question of “if”, but “when.” Below are just a few questions to ask when considering security.

  • How will this app interact with internal servers?
  • Is there adequate internal skill to manage ongoing threats?
  • If there are no internal resources to manage the threat, what external services can be employed?
  • What development processes are lacking in security and how can those be improved with security in mind?

Companies that do not take security seriously will find the lack of planning to be substantially more expensive.

Data Integration

The answer to this question depends almost entirely upon the type of app being considered. Most of the answers are very critical. The more complex the app, the more important data integration becomes. There are many types of data integration, and all provide a specific purpose. Simply put, data integration pulls information from different places to present a unified view for the user. The more complex the data pull, the more issues there may be when the unified view is presented.

During the conceptual phase of app development, it is important to understand the unified view of the user. Once the elements of data integration are separated and examined, the developer will have a better idea of its importance based on the intended, unified view.

Apps provide a way for the brand to connect with the user on a personal level. Purpose, platform and the importance of data integration are just a few things that have to be considered when thinking about developing an app. In the end, the business objectives fulfilled through a personalized customer experience will define the app’s ultimate purpose, and outcome.


Originally published at vajrakayatechnologies.com on October 5, 2015.