Mobile Application Design, Considerations & Thoughts

If your looking to start a project targeted at mobile devices here are some thoughts and findings on why it might be a good idea, some principles to follow and some general thoughts you might benefit from:

Why create a mobile application or mobile web site?

  • To increase your businesses offerings through an additional ordering channel or information access channel.
  • To provide the ability for people to buy when inspiration strikes (or find information). Thereby preventing opportunities from being lost.
  • To empower the user when they are out and about?

Design consideration for a mobile application or mobile web site:

  • Keeping it simple is always an essential part of any design, especially on a mobile device where there are many constraints (e.g. screen real estate, device resources, etc.).
  • Don’t try to do too much, focus on 1 to 3 core features and do them well. Particularly in the first release.
  • Don’t replicate a web experience.
    • Deliver a truly mobile experience  (e.g. use scrolling as opposed to paging).
    • Mobile = quick short tasks. Desktop = longer tasks.
  • Treat the mobile web as its own environment, rather than a crippled extension of your web site or desktop application.
  • Do real word testing in physical locations where the app is most likely going to be used.
  • Go native or mobile web? This is determined by a number of factors.
    • Costs – Going native will generally cost more as specialist skills are required. Also, developing native apps for multiple mobile platforms will result in significant costs. Providing a single mobile web site, with tailed style sheets for the different mobile browsers, will be the most cost effective solution.
    • Usability & UI speed – If usability & UI speed is largest priority then you will most likely go down the native path as currently the mobile web path doesn’t compare.
    • Maintainability – Obviously, maintaining multiple code bases for multiple devices will become difficult as opposed to maintaining a single mobile site.
    • Deployment – Deploying a native application via a mobile vendor can be a time consuming actively that may require a few iterations. However there are benefits in having your application search-able within a vendors online store.
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