Mobile Application Development Approaches, Strategies & Best practices – Part 6

mobilephoneappsIn Part 5 of this series we discussed the Hybrid approach to mobile application development and how it leverages the “best of both worlds” between HMTL5 and Native. What we’d like to do in the following section is to steer towards a different concept of mobility – one that embraces an “all of the above” approach to mobile development. The one-size-fits-all mentality is limiting and fails to grasp the complexities of the mobile market. The reality is that mobile is moving to multiple endpoints and form factors and requires a flexible enough framework to meet growing consumer demands.

 

Mix it up: Adopting an “All-of-the-Above” Approach for Your Mobile Strategy

 

There are a number of good reasons why your mobile strategy needs to be so much more than a simple ideological stance over the merits of HTML5 vs. Native. The consumer is faced with an increasing numbers of form factors today in the mobile world – smartphones, thin laptops, tablets, and now even Apple TV! Not to mention that everyone demands their content anytime and anywhere. The approach to mobile application development must be agile and elastic enough to deal with the speed of the industry, and this includes accounting for cross-platform compatibility and frequent updates.

 

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Instead of wasting cycles on trying to determine whether to adopt Native, HTML5, or Hybrid, it’s time to consider more broadly an “all of the above” approach to your mobile strategy. This also has been termed the “hybrid model” for development. The idea here is to leverage the best of both worlds. Think about how to integrate the reach that is offered by HTML5 with the rich experience of the Native features. Balancing this “rich” and “reach” strategy is described by one firm in the following terms:

 

Regardless of whether you adopt a rich or reach based model it is important to consider how you will get your application into the hands of users. It is important for publisher web-sites to be somewhat mobile aware so that if they detect a mobile browser they can either promote their native application or suggest redirection to a mobile friendly web-site that provides application like functionality. Organisations [that] have both a rich and reach strategy often use the mobile web-site to “upsell” to the native client.

 

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This is excellent advice and really aligns nicely with the complex realities of the multi-channel, multi-platform, multi-device mobile market today. By first adopting a “reach first” HTML5 strategy you spread your net wide to attract the most customers, and then once they see your value proposition it’s possible to introduce them to the richer Native features of your application.

 

This Hybrid model approach (distinguished from the Hybrid app) really gives your organization the flexibility to choose the right application type to meet the business needs of the customer. The following diagram nicely illustrates how this process looks in practice:

 

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If you read between the lines of the mobile strategy literature today, you’ll find an occasional organization that encourage users to adopt both HTML5 and Native app technologies synergistically to provide the best experience for their customers. This is by no means a ubiquitous approach yet, but there is a growing tendency in this direction.

 

Consider the case of SoundCloud, an audio platform that enables users to upload, record, promote and share their originally-created sounds. The company found that a lot of its viral traffic came from blogs and social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. Since App stores like Android or iOS don’t provide rich social sharing and discovery platforms for these channels, SoundCloud innovated and overhauled their development platform to allow HTML5 widgets to run natively in the browser and to enable visitors to play tracks from their iOS devices. The strategy here again is to bring in new or casual users whose friends have shared tracks with them, then to upsell the Native experience for more dedicated users who want the ability to record their music.

 

The main takeaway here is that the mobile landscape is way too complex to reduce the development and delivery cycle to an “either-or” approach. Business leaders must guide their mobile application strategy in a way that ensures that consumers are met with a consistent, integrated, seamless experience across all brands, services, and devices.

 

In Part 7 of this series we will discuss how to align your mobile application approach with specific strategies to ensure the customer experience is a seamless and integrated one. We’ll focus first on the need for Omni-channel adoption.

 

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