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Tips on Building Successful Mobile Applications

Developing robust and user friendly mobile apps call for efficient designers, developers and project managers. Smart phones, Androids and iOS based devices such as iPads and iPhones come loaded with user-friendly mobile browsers such as Mobile Safari and Mobile Chrome. Opera fans too can install their favourite browser on their mobile devices. These browsers make internet browsing as easy as desktops. With precise HTML renderings, CSS3 transitions, fast loading JavaScript and other add-ons, these products indeed make browsing a rich and pleasurable experience. While native applications for mobile devices allow users to make the best use of user interfaces, which lead to enhanced performance, they do make use of the client’s device for loading up data including content, images and scripts. Web based mobile applications on the other hand work in the same manner as a website. They load the contents of the page when a user wants to view them. They also use the browser cache to speed up things. All the data, scripts, images and graphics are loaded directly from the web servers as against the client’s device such as in the case of native applications.

Developing successful mobile applications requires a lot of preliminary planning. At the same time, the process should require minimum time and must be cost effective too. There are a few glitches that might arise while developing most mobile web applications. These may delay the project and increase the cost of development too. The five most important tips to consider while developing mobile apps are:

The need for a mobile app: Mobile applications are fantastic for finding a restaurant or an ATM in your vicinity or for finding out the dollar exchange rate in a foreign country. However, such uses are quite limited and required only when people do not have access to their home or office computers. That is precisely what a mobile application does. It addresses the web based queries of individuals when they are away from their desktops or laptops. Having mobile applications may be an ‘in-thing’ now but not having one may not affect you or your business in any way. If you access all web based information from the comfort of your home or office, you really do not need mobile applications. At the same time, if your business caters to a client segment that can have a free access to you from the comfort of their home or office, you need to develop a business website and not a mobile application.

Functions of a mobile application: As discussed above, a mobile application addresses the specific need of users when they are away from their computers. While developing a mobile app, you need not necessarily cram all the content available on your website into your application. Detailed information such as your business ideology, mission and vision, team strength, etc. should be displayed on your website, not on your mobile app. Applications for mobile phones on the other hand should only focus on two things – first, a good appearance and second, high functionality. Both these features make for a good user experience while on the move – and that is precisely what your mobile application needs to do. It is important to bear in mind the fact that users will access all data on tiny screens with very limited navigation options, so, you must aim at developing a sleek and user friendly interface that make the mobile app quite usable and handy.

Do you require different applications for different mobile devices?: The biggest advantage and major disadvantage with mobile applications is that there are several specifications to design for. From android to Blackberry OS and from iOS to Windows Phone 7 and Symbian, the operating systems are indeed varied and each has its own specifications. This is why many websites including Facebook, have different mobile apps for different devices. Although designing and developing multiple apps is great, the cost that you end up incurring may be huge. Therefore, it is best to determine which device your target users are likely to use and get a suitable mobile application developed to cater to them in an effective manner. And each of these different operating systems has its own technical specifications.

Is the appearance of your mobile application flexible?: There are several screen sizes and resolutions that need to be kept in mind while developing robust mobile applications. There are several operating systems that that run on different mobile devices models. Each mode has its own specifications in terms of screen size and resolution. For instance, the screen sizes and resolution for Blackberry models are different from that of iPhones. Other technicality that must be borne in mind is what if the user rotates the device and uses it horizontally for a landscape view? Typically, it is not possible the application to different sizes. For such scenarios, it is best to have a mobile application that can be slightly modified, wherever necessary, to save costs and render a user-friendly browsing and viewing experience.

Thorough testing: Designing and developing a mobile application may seem fairly easy, but is actually quite a difficult job as compared to designing and developing a full-fledged website. Besides, it is more time consuming too. To make it worth your time, money and efforts, it is best to test the mobile application through a soft launch before introducing it in the market. Thorough testing will help the designers and developers identify small glitches and fix or modify them well in time, so that the product is launched without any technical problems and is found to be user friendly for your target customers. Here’s hoping that these tips will come handy in developing successful mobile applications!

About the Author

Frank Johnson is a regular editorial contributor on technology products and services that help small to mid size businesses. To know more about developing mobile applications, you may interact with him here

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