474188899Mobile application development is still in its infancy, and is challenged with similar growing pains that were experienced with client/server applications in the ’80s and the Web in the ’90s. The challenges companies face include standards, strategies, architecture, device priorities, and now the multitude of form factors and user expectations.

The biggest and most common mistake companies make when developing their mobile solutions is not understanding their target users. To understand your target users, you must first identify the context of their mobile moments. The following are five simple questions that will help you define your mobile moments:

1. Why do you want or need a mobile app?
2. What do you want your mobile app to do?
3. Who are your target users?
4. Where are they going to use it?
5. When will it be used?

In addition to asking these questions, another method for defining your mobile moments and the context your users expect is to observe and understand a day in the life of your users. The key here is to identify the process or workflow of your mobile solution that will deliver the biggest value to your users, and then break down the process or workflow into sub-components that add value. It is also important that you define the right business drivers and metrics for success. To do this, engage all relevant parties across the organization, including LOB, marketing, sales, IT, and executive leadership. Your mobile solution should not be thought of as just another IT project.

Once you have defined the context and mobile moments of your target users, it is important that you don’t overbuild and under-deliver. Therefore, start out by delivering “micro-moments.” Prioritize your features by the value delivered. Create a release schedule that provides continuous value to your users, while delivering great user experiences. You don’t need to deliver everything at once, as this typically results in poor performance (e.g. slow response time, crashes) and usability issues (e.g. confusing navigation or workflow), resulting in bad reviews in the app store and users deleting your app.

The other common mistake companies make is thinking that to be mobile is thinking that they need to have an app in an app store. This is not true! While you may eventually deliver your mobile solutions via an app store, you don’t just assume this from the beginning. Again, you must first define the context and mobile moments of your users. Knowing what information the user needs or wants, as well as where, when and how they will access this information, will help determine the technology you should use to deliver your mobile solution. With the continuous advances in technology today, mobile platforms and technologies are enabling companies to develop applications on one platform and deliver them across all major platforms and operating systems.

However, this creates more challenges with testing your mobile apps. Knowing the context and mobile moments of your users will help define your test cases. You cannot assume that just because your mobile app works well on one device and form factor it will work well on all. There are testing tools and services available to test your mobile solution properly for all your mobile moments and context.

The following are common mistakes that impact the user experience:

  • Selecting technology before you know what the context is that you need to deliver.
  • Assuming you know what your users want or need.
  • Adding everything and the kitchen sink in your first release.
  • Not testing your mobile solution for its actual context of use.
  • Ignoring the “non-visual” parts of user experience design (e.g. speed, search, workflow).

Sirius has assisted many clients with avoiding these common mistakes and delivering great mobile user experiences. For more information about best practices for developing mobile solutions, visit the Mobility Solutions page on the Sirius site, speak to your Sirius representative, or contact us.