Over the last year BVA has been asked more than I can recall, should my organization develop a mobile app (application) for my business which is a great question to say the least. There is a lot that goes into making one of these and it takes a true professional to develop a good app. There are third party firms that specifically target this market and of course BVA has been contacted about partnering with such a firm. This partnership has not taken place due to the lack of experience of some of these outfits. We are working with a few firms in performing some trials to see their relevance and competency. Mobile applications are the newest and the hottest topic in all the presentations I have been to and of course all the large corporations are jumping on the train which is a little scary, especially wrapped around the banking industry. It has become a must-have addition to the arsenal of any Web-based small to medium sized business. Mobile app downloads across all handsets worldwide are projected to approach 50 billion in 2012 which is quite shocking if you really think about it. That much personal data being transferred over cell towers. To really be successful in this market of mobile apps you have to be in it to win it. If your business line or your users want to access your organization while they’re on the go, you’re going to need a mobile app eventually. And if you want to succeed, it will take more than just shrinking your current website to create a footprint edition for smaller screens.
The process of developing your own app is quite extensive but not brain surgery. The mission here is helping people find your website and your line of business in a fast and easy way. All the while, gathering their personal information or profile. Simplicity is a mobile app or app’s best friend, creating an app that tries to mirror your website is not the correct path. I think another large component to a successful app is being able to enter data on the fly, easily from whatever phone unit that you are using. I hate apps that make it difficult to enter data, I literally will stop using it. Good graphic design is a given, but it shouldn’t become a fetish to the point where it interferes with the user’s experience. The design is crucial to creating an engaging and effective mobile site, and not too many bells and whistles. Be aware of the screen size and resolution you are trying to achieve. Mobile design presents very different challenges from web design, because you’re not able to spew everything out all at once. Instead you’re forced to be very thoughtful about how your content is prioritized and presented. Some of the IT Department heads that I communicate with stress how important to have an in-house person that knows the application well and was involved during its coding and conception. My friend tells me that it constantly needs to be updated and changed due to user requests and organizational needs.