Mobile Application Development Approaches, Strategies & Best practices – Part 8

mobilephoneappsMobile application development cannot occur in a vacuum. Given the complex needs of the digital customer today, organizations must understand that mobile app development approaches need to be holistically aligned with retail, marketing, and Big Data strategies as well. Omni-channel adoption is one formidable method we’ve discussed so far. But there are other important considerations as well like support for multiple platforms and devices, tracking customer behaviors, and providing a superior user experience for your customers. Let’s start by examining what it means to provide multi-platform and multi-device compatibility for your customers.

 

Support All Platforms and Devices, All the Time!

 

As we’ve seen in our discussion of Omni-channel adoption so far businesses must provide an organic, seamless experience for their customers and offer continuous access to products and services anytime, anywhere! What this means in real-world terms is that a customer may research XYZ Widgets on their iPhone5 while waiting in line at the post office and then go home and make a purchase on their thin laptop or Windows tablet. Research indicates that 67% of participants use multiple devices when shopping online. As one article well describes, part of creating a seamless experience for customers is to ensure consistency of use across multiple platforms and devices so applications aren’t limited by hardware, virtualization, or operating system constraints. Companies “need to go where their customers are,” be it channel or platform.

 

multi platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross-platform mobile application development is a given today and there are growing numbers of frameworks for enabling “write once, deploy everywhere” capabilities. In Part 5 of this series we discussed the Hybrid application approach and mentioned PhoneGap as one formidable solution. Other major cross-platform app development platforms include Rhomobile, Appcelerator, MoSync, and more.

 

displays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are, of course, numerous benefits to developing for multiple platforms: the code is reusable, leading to easier deployment; development costs are much cheaper; it’s easier for web developers who can leverage their skills in HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript; and there is easy integration with plugins, APIs, and cloud services. The MoSync website pretty much sums up the advantages of a cross-platform capability, “MoSync Reload lets you develop apps in HTML5 and JavaScript on your desktop machine and instantly see the result on any number of devices or emulators. It’s just like pressing ‘reload’ in a web browser, but for native mobile apps!”

 

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Let’s now draw out some guiding strategies for supporting a multi-platform, multi-device environment:

 

  • Keep the focus customer-centric: don’t get bogged down in the technology choices but use your platform of choice to understand how to reach, engage, and influence your customers. Use analytics to determine and predict their online habits and behaviors.
  • Create platform-agnostic experiences: while you want to obviously appeal to the major platforms like iOS, Android, and Windows, strive to organize your content, services, and marketing around the creation of a seamless (there’s that word again!) and complementary experience for your customer.
  • Target audience demographics by platform: understand what age groups are using what platforms and tailor your marketing accordingly. For instance, if you find that the younger traffic (ages 18-34) prefer iPhones while middle aged users prefer Windows Surface, this insight could help streamline your marketing campaigns.

 

Providing your customer with cross-platform compatibility and multi-device support is not an end in itself, but rather the starting point for developing a seamless, integrated, holistic user experience. In Part 9 of this series we’ll explore some of the next steps required for creating a 360 degree view of your customers.

 

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