Design Considerations for Mobile Solutions
21st October 2014
Author Raymond Yong
Recently, the importance of mobile phones has grown to the point where they can no longer be considered as an afterthought. Virtually every person has a mobile phone, and the way they use it has opened up great opportunities for organisations.
I’ll start with what makes mobile phones different and use that to show what organisations need in order to build a good mobile solution.
So what is it about mobile phones that is so different? One of the biggest things is that mobile phones are used in many different contexts. My mobile phone travels everywhere with me. It’s on me at home, at work, in the supermarket, when I’m on holiday. There is almost no part of my life that is not touched by it, and I observe a similar pattern with many other mobile phone users as well. Due to this, the mobile phone comes with an array of features that allow mobile solutions to detect the user’s context, such as where they are or who they’re with. Because of this, organisations can now gain an insight into the user and use it to serve them better, increasing positive brand perception and ultimately increasing revenue.
A second thing that makes mobile devices different is their size. They are typically small and don’t conform to one form factor, meaning that mobile applications must be able to concisely convey information in a variety of different screen sizes, dimensions and resolutions. This means that not just information but the appearance and delivery of information becomes crucially important. If this is neglected, the information delivered is as good as useless.
So how can an organisation create a mobile solution that is designed for the appropriate user context and delivers information well? I believe that the answer is ‘purpose’. At Davanti, I deal with many organisations that want to implement mobile solutions. In each case, the first question I ask is ‘what is your aim or purpose’? Or in other words, ‘what do you want to achieve’? This is important, as the answer will determine the context in which people will use the solution, and influence its appearance. For example, an application designed to help people car pool will be heavily dependent on a person’s location information whereas one designed to take notes might only require a user friendly input box. Purpose is key. I have seen many organisations build mobile solutions just because they can but all this results in is a poorly designed application.
In addition to having a purpose in mind for their mobile solution, organisations must measure how successfully the solution achieves this purpose. However, this measurement cannot be done at the end of development – at this point it’s usually too late to change the solution without substantial cost. As such, the development of a mobile solution must be iterative, with each iteration producing a chunk of functionality that can be tested against the organisation’s objectives. Having worked on many projects, I find that this provides the best results both for the customer, myself and Davanti. However, a word to the wise – it is imperative that organisations keep their objectives the same throughout the project. An agile, iterative approach is designed to allow for minor course corrections, and not to hit a moving target.
Assuming that an organisation does all of this and defines a purpose, builds a solution and leverages insights into the users’ context – is it a good mobile solution? I believe it is. By following this process, organisations can tightly couple their mobile solution to their goals while simultaneously giving it the best chance to engage its intended audience.
Raymond Yong is a Senior Business Manager at Davanti Consulting and leads the mobility solution practice. Raymond provides leadership for accelerating the adoption of mobility solutions that will transform business processes, delight users internally and externally and deliver game-changing competitive advantage. His business acumen is extensive having industry experience in construction, financial, telecommunication, utilities, travel and logistics. He draws upon 17 years of international senior ICT leadership experience across project, strategy, solution, product and software development roles.