Mobile is a huge business, and the number of possibilities is almost endless. It can be overwhelming, particularly for start-ups new to the industry. Whether your mobile development is the whole of your service, or an integrated part of a wider product, there are a few things worth keeping in mind during development.
Knowing the state of the market is key to being able to find your own place in it. Need, originality and execution are what your product will live and die by; it’s not uncommon to discover that the great idea you just had is one ten other people have had last year. Even if your idea is new, can you execute it in a way that will make sure it holds its own when the inevitable imitators come along? Know what’s out there, how you can be different or better, and most importantly, if it’s something you think people will want.
People often talk about mobile as if it was one cohesive sphere, but the truth is that each form factor and the operating system has different requirements, capabilities, and audience. Targeting a single aspect can obviously get you a larger share of the pie for that audience than a broader approach, but if, say, you only want to work well with iOS, you’ll be losing out on Android and Windows devices. Equally, a broader approach can net you a larger overall audience, but will it be optimised – and will the development be that much longer (and more expensive) for it?
Mobile development often assumes that users will be always online, but, whether it’s due to transit, blackspots, or downtime, people often use their devices without any internet connection. What level of functionality can you bring to offline use? Clearly, it depends very much on what services you’re providing, but any development that brings offline functionality will see increased usage.
Making life easier
Mobile usage is all about convenience. If people want in-depth and more power, they’ll often turn to their desktops (where they tend not to want to be distracted), so make sure your mobile development is geared towards ease-of-use, clarity, and simplicity so you’re available to the most receptive audience at the right time. Many of the most popular mobile applications are far simpler than their desktop cousins – think maps, messaging, or search engines. Can you optimize the user experience to give them what they want with the minimum of fuss? Are you as prepared as you can be for developments like the rise of GIF sharing in image search?
Most major hardware firms release new products at least once per year, along with attendant operating system updates. The acceleration towards ever more powerful hardware and ever faster connections can leave mobile developers lagging behind. From your programming language up, you need to know that what you are developing can keep pace with the changes ahead – you can’t predict the future, nothing screams “unprofessional” like outdated interfaces or slow processes, so it’s important to take care of as much as you can. Top tip, future proofing your business isn’t just about tech, it’s a business-wide strategy that encompasses all areas of a company.
Like it or loathe it, social media is here to stay, and it’s with social media that mobile really is king. Some developers try to find any way possible to incorporate a social media aspect into their mobile functionality, so plan carefully; is this something you want to integrate from the start, or just use as a modular extra or add-on?
If your project is a success, your users will want to let people know, so is the ability to share at the touch of a button going to be a critical part of your design, or are you intending to rely on reviews, in the house or via a third party review platform. Make sure to take the time to think about how consumer feedback can be integrated into the design so that it can be viewed, updated and moderated across multiple platforms and devices.