As we passed the Rubicon of almost everyone owning a smartphone, great many opportunities opened up. Smartphones are uniquely suited for any business and marketing division thanks to a powerful set of features:
Mobility combined with constant engagement. There is a reason pictures like these have become telling memes. No matter where a person is, the content is there to be accessed just a finger-slide away.
The lowest cost of entry. Either subscription-based or a new unlocked, a smartphone can be had for under $100, while still integrating all the key technologies.
Smartphone’s GPS feature allows for geo-targeted marketing. While accessing apps for promotional offers and discounts, smartphones can relay consumer data in real-time. Creating valuable data sets on demographics, purchase time, and locations. Understanding shopping behavior, and how it relates to your marketing strategies, is critical to hone in on what works and what doesn’t.
While most content is still consumed via the traditional manner of visiting websites, apps create the next level of engagement and usefulness. For instance, an app for a physical grocery store may become a user’s favorite app if it fulfills the following criteria:
It is intuitive to use.
It has the option of creating a favorite list of items.
It has an easy way of searching for items and adding them.
It dynamically labels discounted items, including those in the favorite list.
It automatically calculates the cost of all items added in the basket list.
It can scan the product barcode and add it to the basket or favorite list.
If such an app is also bug-free, one could achieve loyal customer engagement in a very direct business-to-customer communication. Just the presence of this app and its useful features would spur the user to only buy in that store.
In the past, having a website for your business marked a serious operation. Over time, this became a standard. Now, the new prestige is having your own app. A business that has its own app available on Google Play or Apple Store is much more likely to create and maintain brand awareness. Furthermore, you can dually market both your business and your app in a single marketing campaign by using the app as a vehicle for demonstrating its features.
It is easy to understand all the advantages of mobile apps for business, but having one that works and draws in a customer as intended is another story altogether.
A successful, bug-free and frustration-free mobile application development, must meet certain standards in order to avoid backfire and money-wasting.
If you recall from the most recent hearing involving Google, Senator Cruz grilled a Google employee describing herself as a “digital well-being” expert. One may think of this as some new Orwellian term deployed by Google, but it is a real thing.
Namely, that technology should serve the people instead of the other way around. This translates to honing the user experience to be as pleasant as possible:
No delays between actions/swipes/taps.
Intuitive and logical order of accessible features.
For some businesses, like in the above grocery store example, we already know what works, so app developers can use a tried & tested template. However, many businesses are difficult to pin down. In such cases, app development is fraught with obstacles.
The touch screen has become the main interface since long-forgotten keyboard phones. Unfortunately, its performance varies from model to model. This creates a challenging app testing environment, as one smartphone may result in precise and delay-free taps, while the other not so much. App development should account for this variation.
Deadline becoming the enemy of quality
App development should always include plenty of time to hunt down bugs and test its user experience. And then add some time for unforeseen issues as well. A hastily pushed app which then receives low user ratings will be a difficult omission to recover from, as your brand will be associated with failure and low ratings. Even if errors/bugs are corrected in the future, the momentum of bad reviews and ratings will remain.
For sure, of all the mistakes in mobile application development, this is the critical one.
Emulation vs Device Testing
Different operating systems – Windows, Android, iOS – can be emulated on the same hardware during the initial stages of development. However, that doesn’t mean that mobile app testing via direct device testing should be omitted. Although more expensive, a proper lab setup with mobile devices will ensure the app’s QoS.
Moreover, when an app is set to be published on the market, it needs to go through a verification process. This process includes the layout and usage of all the elements. If there was no direct device testing done in a real-time environment, the publishing process may be delayed. Needless to say, this would incur additional costs, so in the end, the promise of cost-reduction via emulation will crash.
Immense Device Variation
Contending with just three operating systems to make the app cross-platform is one thing, but taking into account a huge variety of devices on the market is one of the most difficult challenges an app developer has to face. To give you a clearer picture of the problem, here is what device fragmentation looks like according to a data chart from OpenSignal, accounting for about 12,000 Android devices.
On top of leveling the user experience across devices and operating systems, apps also have to be compatible within different versions of same operating systems.
Types of Apps
Different apps require different considerations when it comes to testing. You can have:
Native apps tend to have the best performance due to being on a single platform. They are also easier to test. Hybrid apps combine the elements of both web and native apps and offer full app capability, while web apps offer partial capability. However, web apps require only web developer skills (HTML5), facilitate instant updates and unrestricted distribution, compared to restricted app store distribution on hybrid apps.
One should always opt for testing and management of apps and devices to take place via a private cloud. Miscreants are always on the prowl for new victims, and a public cloud is their playground.
Think of an app as a direct interface with your customers. One that offers clarity, light mental load, engagement, and increased brand loyalty. However, following these mobile app design guidelines forms just the tip of the spear, as the successful momentum of an app relies on thorough testing.
Every business should strive to set aside additional time and resources for mobile app testing. In a nutshell, ensure that a comprehensive Quality Assurance process can take place without interference. Otherwise, one risks bad first impressions (poor app ratings) that is exceedingly difficult to erase from the internet.
Aakansha is a content marketing expert at Galaxy weblinks Inc.
Her expertise includes marketing content, blogging, social media as well as strategic policy. She has an in-depth understanding of design and development processes and often writes about user experience, designing, web development, mobile apps, security and more. She works alongside senior management to facilitate implementation of strategic policy and in-house training. She strongly believes communication is key to any system, algorithm, design or life in general. Being an avid reader, Aakansha finds fiction and non-fiction academic writing equally enticing.