Contributed by guest author Brian Rees, a media relations representative for Newnex.
Websites are critical for attracting customers, but a newer technology presents a great opportunity for businesses to reach out: mobile apps. Launching a mobile app shows your company cares about providing convenience for your customers, and it is a great channel to reach to potential customers. However, it’s important to ensure your mobile app is provides value to your customers. Focusing on strong app development practices can help you separate yourself from your competitors. Here are three areas to consider when developing and launching a mobile app for iOS or Android.
Ensuring your mobile app is easy to use is critical. Smartphones and tablets use fairly small screens, and the imprecision of touch-based interfaces means you need to make buttons, links and other elements easy to click on. While opinions differ on the best way to develop interfaces, experts have put considerable study into how to create an interface that’s easy to learn through use. Relying on these practices is essential for providing an interface that works with users instead of putting up roadblocks. Remember that your app will be used by people with various levels of computer skills.
Apps require maintenance. Mobile operating systems change over time, and you’ll want to update your app to take advantage of new features. Furthermore, be mindful of operating systems changes that might render your app unusable on newer devices. Take advantage of new screen sizes and new methods of interacting.
Smartphone apps almost always rely on internet connectivity to function correctly, and online interfaces present potential vectors for attacks. Your users rely on secure programming to ensure that their information is secure, and failing to provide robust protections risks your company’s reputation. Make security a top priority when developing your app even if it makes logging in a bit slower.
Security plays an even more important role when you accept payments over your app. Standards vary, but many payment merchants require strong encryption and other technologies to ensure payment information is difficult to hack. Customers are likely to use insecure internet connections, and your company’s reputation will take a hit if customer data is leaked. Poor security can also lead to legal liability, especially if a court finds your company was negligent or ignored common security conventions.
Your app needs to compel users to use it; an app that provides only minimal functionality is likely to do little to engage users. Take an inventory of your site, and replicate as the most valuable features in your app. If possible, make your app even easier to use than your site by providing shortcuts for completing common tasks. However, it’s important to remember the limitations of mobile devices.
It’s also important that your app presents a professional and attractive look and feel; functionality is important, but users will often judge your app partially based on how it looks. An attractive interface encourages users to load your app more frequently, which can increase user engagement and lead to better interaction. Make sure you focus on function over form, but don’t discount aesthetic and stylistic considerations.
Keep an eye out for new technologies. Augmented reality, for example, provides a new and refreshing means to interact with customers through your app. By embracing these new technologies early on, you can separate your company from its competitors and potentially gain new clients.
The ever-changing nature of the internet means that companies need to constantly explore and embrace new technologies to compete. While smartphones have been around for some time, their constant evolution means apps need to evolve. Make sure you view your mobile app as an ongoing project to provide a great experience for its users. While developing a mobile app requires money, it can be a great investment that attracts new customers and keeps existing customers coming back for more.
Brian Rees is a media relations representative for Newnex. In his spare time, he enjoys writing, music, and playing with technology.