From Design to Measurement. Steps for Building Successful Mobile Applications

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1 From Design to Measurement Steps for Building Successful Mobile Applications

2 Table of Contents 3 Introduction 4 Mobile App Lifecycle Design Ease of use Usage Updates 6 Mobile App Development Features Navigability and ease of use Support and stability Distribution 9 Measuring Mobile App Usage 11 About App47

3 Introduction After spending time, money and expertise developing an enterprise-level mobile application, or App, you should not have to cross your fingers once it s released. If you want to ensure users are not just downloading the App, but actually using it and enjoying using the App it is imperative to focus on the user experience (UX) during the design and development phase. You don t want to stop there though. Measurement is critical to understanding more than just if the App is being used, but how it is being used as well. With this information in hand, you can justify the App s effectiveness and return on investment. In this ebook on mobile App usability, we will discuss a mobile App s lifecycle to better understand Apps in general; all of the elements to take into consideration during the development phase to ensure a good user experience; and how to measure usage. 3

4 Mobile App Lifecycle Before we start talking about developing your App so it will actually be used, let s start at the very beginning and take a look at the life of a typical mobile App. The average user doesn t open a mobile App more than 20 times, and people use only one third of the Apps they download beyond 30 days. That means that all the time and effort you put into your mobile App could be for naught. Instead of helping your employees do their work more efficiently and effectively, nothing changes. You want to beat those sad statistics, so you need to look Apps from the user s perspective. Design Your employees are not buying the App from the App Store or Android Marketplace, where your App has to compete with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of others in the same category. This actually makes your company s App a bit easier for your developers. No matter how functional it is under the hood though, don t skimp on design. Ask your App developers to put as much emphasis on design as on functionality, so when your employees open the App, they enjoy looking at it and using it as much as their favorite consumer-based App. 4

5 Ease of use We all know that a first impression makes or breaks numerous situations and this is true of any mobile App. Your employees know about this App. They were told it was being developed to make x, y, and z easier to do. They were asked to download it and now they are being asked to integrate this App into their daily tasks. Your employees must see the immediate value of this App, so they are eager to begin using it. With all of those expectations on both sides, the App must be user-friendly and intuitive. It must make x, y, and z easier to do not more complicated. Your employees must see the immediate value of this App, so they are eager to begin using it. Usage This is when relevance comes into play. If your App developer anticipated everything your employees needed, your mobile App will be embraced and used on a regular basis. Employees will urge their hesitant colleagues to give it a try. Instead of being downloaded and forgotten, it will be their most-used App, and the goals set for this App will be exceeded. Updates As your employees use the App and as technology changes, you will make updates to your App. Stress the new features and functionality and how they will benefit your employees to ensure they download the new version. Remind them to download it add feedback from your beta group to demonstrate how much better the update is than the old version. And now you are back at part 1 design and the lifecycle of your mobile App starts again. Now that we know what your mobile App s life looks like, let s look at the actual development phase of your App. 5

6 Mobile App Development We touched on these subjects during our lifecycle discussion, but now we will take a more in-depth view of your App s features, navigability and ease of use, support and stability, and distribution. Features During development, it is critical to keep the App s features simple and uncomplicated. Decide what features are critical to include now and which can either be discarded or be included in future versions. The more specific you get, the better the App will be for users. Navigability and Ease of Use Your mobile App will be task-focused by nature. Unlike a web-based platform or App, there is no room for anything extraneous in a mobile App. This simple reality forces you to really focus and prioritize the features and functionality of the App. Think of it this way: your company s website has multiple pages, but only a few generate a lot of traffic. Those are the pages that are most likely on your company s mobile website and they are probably distilled down to even more basic elements. 6

7 That laser-like focus on what matters will enhance your employees experience when they use the App. They will not have to search for what they need or want it will be right there in the App. Here are 4 steps to follow when designing your App to ensure it is easy to use. 1. Understand user needs If you want your App to replace or supplement one or several functions, you need to think realistically about how your App will be used. How will your employees use the App while working from home, at another office, onsite with a client, in the office, on the road locally, and/or traveling regionally or internationally? Will they upload or download information? Do they need a scanning capability? How many features do they need? If it s a laundry list, should you consider developing more than one App? How many layers does your App need? The more layers in the App, the longer it will take your employees to learn how to use it. Now that you have answered those questions, you will know whether or not the App can reach your goals. 2. Performance The App must be very responsive on all mobile devices if your employees are going to use it. Focus on performance during development to ensure the App responds to commands and uploads and downloads information quickly. No matter how many Apps you develop, they should be recognizable as an App from your company. 3. Test and re-test Mobile Apps have to meet a bunch of criteria to be successful. Because mobile Apps are limited to a small screen and cannot require users to type in a lot of text, the design has to stay clean and simple, but functional. That is a lot to juggle. 7

8 If you want to get it right, plan to test and retest multiple versions of the App with users before picking one that will work as you envision it and therefore meet your goals. 4. Be consistent No matter how many Apps you develop, they should be recognizable as an App from your company. They should be consistent not just by look, but also by function on all devices. With this information in hand, the App can be better supported to make it more stable and prevent future crashes. Distribution Now that your App is ready to launch, how are you going to distribute it to your employees? Thanks to different operating systems and mobile portals, developers have to optimize mobile Apps for different devices, browsers, and carriers. If your company is international, throw in countries and cultures as well. Support and Stability Like any technology, Apps are not perfect, and unfortunately, yours could crash. If a crash occurs, you need to be able to track what happened so you can prevent it from happening again. Make sure you can track what a user was doing when the App crashed if he shut it down and reopened it and at what point and what other Apps were running at the same time. Your company s intranet is the best bet, as it is a secure portal that everyone accesses, but you also want to make finding and downloading it as easy as going to the App Store or Android Marketplace. Set up a user-friendly enterprise App store that models after those ecommerce sites. 8

9 Measuring Mobile App Usage When your employees start using your Apps, their experience will have a direct impact on the App s return on investment. Either they are going to call it the best thing since sliced bread or ignore it and continue to do things the old way. Everyone involved in the project will want to determine whether or not the App is living up to expectations and delivering increased efficiency, productivity, or effectiveness all of which translate directly into increased revenue or cost savings. So how do you know if it s actually generating a return on investment? Different stakeholders have different ideas on what constitutes a successful App. A successful App is not an App that is just being downloaded and working. You also need to understand how it is working to determine whether or not it is successful. That might sound like a subtle distinction, but it s an important one. What you need to know is how the mobile App is helping employees do their job better. Let s say your company has a 500-person mobile sales force. Yes, knowing the number of App downloads is a good start, but 9

10 knowing that a salesperson is using the App to update data from the field rather than waiting to get back to his or her desk is a much more powerful ROI metric. If you can see the App is making your sales team more efficient by saving time and opportunity cost, the investment is worthwhile. Tracking Actual Usage To track actual usage, here are the questions you need to ask. How are my employees using the App? Think whowhat-where. How are my employees using the App? Now that your employees are using your App, you need to measure how they are benefiting from (or being frustrated by) your Apps in the field. Think who-what-where. Who is actually using the mobile App? Where are they using it? What pages are they accessing most or least often? Now that you know this information, you know what you need to do to improve your App s performance. How fast are they upgrading? If people are taking a long time to upgrade to version 2.0, you need to motivate them to download it. The faster you can move employees from 1.0 to 2.0, for example, the faster you can phase out the outdated support the App requires and thus reduce operating costs. What platforms is my App being run on? How is it performing with different backend systems? Knowing this information helps understand the cost of the App how many systems you need to support, what you need to test, etc. The diversity of devices, operating systems, memory and myriad other factors impact your App optimization strategy. Even something as seemingly innocuous as keyboard layout can mean the difference between adoption and rejection of your App. 10

11 Application Intelligence for the Mobile Enterprise As App developers improve upon existing enterprise-level Apps or create new ones, they need enterprise-grade tools and deep application intelligence to improve the effectiveness of their mobile Apps. App47 helps developers: Build more effective, efficient, and successful mobile Apps Obtain critical information from mobile App devices and users to determine cause of crashes and errors to strengthen Apps for stability, availability, performance Obtain visibility into user activity and important feedback that will help them make the App better (UI, architecture, etc.) Understand how to improve the mobile user app47.com At App47, we offer automated tools that provide analytics and performance data; easy access to troubleshooting information; a single embedded library for App instrumentation; and analysis of how your App is being used. To learn more or schedule a demo, please contact us today or sign up for a free account at 11

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