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5 Tips to not screw up your mobile app

Rick_Barron ‎12-10-2013 03:31 PM - edited ‎09-09-2015 11:06 AM



Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works.”

- Steve Jobs


You have a vision, some inspiration and maybe even a name that you know will be perfect for your app. So ... now what?


It's time to get down to the nitty-gritty and begin designing the structure, flow and features that will combine to form your finished mobile app. But actually performing these tasks isn't easy — there are tons of moving parts and project management aspects to keep in mind during development. Developing a functioning and enjoyable mobile app requires discipline and practicality. If you don't tend to the nuts and bolts of production, you're putting yourself at risk for disaster.


Here are some tips to help you avoid common pitfalls: 


1. Strength in numbers - Many of think we know just what the customer wants. Do we really? In order to design a good app, you have to understand  customer pain points. Drawing information from  customer  discussions can point you in the right direction to solving a problem. So what do you need to do to resolve these problems for your customers? Go to your staff, other departments; and gather facts about people’s everyday functions at work.  Ask them what would help them be more productive and  save time. That is a great place to start!


2. Start small - With various operating systems, it’s only natural to plan your app for all of them—but that may not be the best way to start. Better yet, I recommend going with one OS and designing your app so that it runs flawlessly. Get feedback on your app and learn how to not only improve it, but use the information to then begin designing the app to work on another OS. Understand the number of your customers that use mobile phones vs. tablets. Learn to know where to spend your energy wisely. Remember, the only great feature is a usable feature. End users are like customers—always allow them to touch and evaluate early prototypes to ensure the development process is on the right track.


3. Mobile phone vs. Tablet - Even when you know the breakdown of those using mobile phone vs. tablets, you’ve seen for yourself that some apps are better tailored for the tablet rather than a phone. Sure, you can read a magazine on your phone, but let’s face it, it just looks better on a tablet because of the additional screen landscape. With this in mind you need to plan and strategize why you’d want to build your app for the phone or tablet. There’s no point in developing an app where the form factor is better suited for a tablet and try to ‘fit it’ in for the phone.


4. KISS - But some apps get bogged down in that functionality. Simplicity remains the goal of the mobile experience. Bite size apps that capture one workflow are often best. An app that takes longer to build is usually a sign that it is too complex. Stay focused. Never try to do too much. Instead, try to do a limited number of things incredibly well. Don’t build a Cadillac when all you need is a VW. So…keep it simple stupid.


5. Know how to pitch - Let’s face it, developers are great at coding but when it comes to marketing their ideas…well. You know  that you have an app that will solve a key problem, now you have to tell your story. How can you gain the practice to gain this skill? Practice with your friends. Better yet, sign up for a hackathon, where part of the process IS getting in front of audience of your peers, or in this case, judges, and sell your idea. Sure, talking in front of a crowd can be nerve wracking, but the practice to learn how to summarize the benefits of your app, is invaluable.


Relevant links

About the Author


Rick Barron is a Program Manager for various aspects of the PM team and HPSW UX/UI team; and working on UX projects associated with He has worked in high tech for 20+ years working in roles involving web design, usability studies, and mobile marketing. Rick has held roles at Motorola Mobility, Symantec and Sun Microsystems.

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