Mobile App Development: 8 Best Practices - InformationWeek
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6/26/2016
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Mobile App Development: 8 Best Practices

Creating great mobile enterprise apps isn't necessarily easy, but it can be easier if you follow these eight critical tips.
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(Image: geralt via Pixabay)

(Image: geralt via Pixabay)

If you're in enterprise IT in 2016, the odds are pretty good that you've already been tasked with building a mobile app, or that you'll get that type of project sometime in the next few months. We get it. Mobile apps are cool.

When you're asked to build an app for the first time, it's natural to start looking at all the things that are different between building an app and developing an enterprise application. You might look at frameworks, languages, APIs, and SDKs.

While you're doing all that, you might well miss the really important things -- the things that will make a difference between an app that your users find delightful and an app that finds itself in the trash folder.

Here's a little secret: In many ways, developing a mobile app is just like developing that big enterprise application. Oh, sure, the details are different, but when it comes to the foundation issues, you can take the secrets for a successful mobile app, apply them to an enterprise application, and still be in pretty good shape.

[See 10 Programming Languages That Will Keep You Employed.]

I've put together the following list by talking to developers, looking at stories of how successful apps were developed, and drawing on my own experience managing application development. I hope that you'll find most of these pointers obvious. If you do, it means that you've been paying attention as you developed applications in your own career.

If that's the case, then why present this list at all? I'm putting it together because it might allow you to talk about these points with your executive management, your colleagues, and your teammates. Frankly, if it helps start a useful conversation at the front end of a development project, it will have done a pretty good job.

With that said, I recognize that there are other tips that can make a huge difference when it comes to putting together a successful app. I'm curious about the tips that make up your list.

Are there tips on this list that you don't find useful? Are there additional tips you think should go on this list, even if putting them there means kicking one of the incumbents to the curb?

I'd love to know your list and the tips that have made the biggest difference when it comes to the teams you've managed -- and the apps that have been your biggest successes.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

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Techsoftzi170
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Techsoftzi170,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/7/2017 | 7:55:47 AM
Re: Requirements Gathering
Nice post on the tips of Mobile app development. 
CalvinA509
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CalvinA509,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/10/2017 | 5:26:17 AM
Mobile App Development: 8 Best Practices
We should learn the easy steps to for mobile app development because nowadays people are using Mobile Apps more than a website you have explain small and important factors of mobile app development so easily in your post.
DavidR49201
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DavidR49201,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/10/2017 | 4:33:57 AM
Re: Successful mobile apps development
I totally agree with you. Oh BTW, I love the site! Gives really helpful advice all things financial. Awesome to see them getting a good series A funding. Keep up the awesome work mate!

 

Joel
Code Brew Labs
EmillyB860
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EmillyB860,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/20/2016 | 8:31:54 AM
Successful mobile apps development
That's a very informative article. Mobile apps development is not an easy thing indeed, and many factors should be taken into consideration before starting it. If a developer follows all the steps that are mentioned in your article and if they combine a great idea with an excellent implementation it's almost sure that the app will have an enormous success. I needed a mobile app and I decided to choose a company that is specialized in this field, so I chose BGO Software to develop it. Obviously they've followed all the steps, mentioned in this article, because at the end the app turned out to be great.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
7/5/2016 | 11:05:46 AM
Re: Prototyping a given
@ddurbin1, I hear you. Unfortunately the requirement was to track all this stuff with as little data entry as possible, preferably none. :-) Not many tools are going to help with that. Life at a small biz unit.

I've met very few people who can get the requirements right from the get-go. It usually take an iterative process to get there. When server based code to existing clients, the only cost is the salary they are already paying me anyway. This project introduced a curve because of new hardware needed just to get something in front of users.

In my case, a minimal $800. But I pity the people doing Big Data or IoT projects where the investment is many orders of magnitude higher, only to find out the users couldn't really get any ROI out of it. Then those tools you mention, plus requirements matched to ROI, should be a given.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
7/1/2016 | 11:20:51 AM
Re: Prototyping a given
There are plenty of "process" tools to develop a work flow as a basis of requirements gathering.  Jumping on an "idea" with immediate developement action usually leads to a lot of wasted time and effort if real requirements are not set down first.  Prototypeing is great once there is a common understanding of the primary goals.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
6/27/2016 | 1:10:46 PM
Prototyping a given
And it has a cost you might have to eat. We are an IBM i5 server shop for LoB systems, many of which are still old school green screen. I use Sencha Extjs to write HTML5 apps using i5 as the server. 

We started making a new product which the tooling on the machines is a crucial component of success. Hundreds of parts, eventually thousands. So the company built a toolroom with defined locations to track tools going in and out. So early on, one of engineers (not a user actually making any transactions on tools) wanted to be able to use barcodes to scan the tools in and out of toolroom with a mobile device. 

Absolutely nothing wrong with idea, although I encouraged them to walk before they ran. So wrote the core server code, with green screen interface, to accomplish the needed transactions. Keep in mind the biz requirements were not even fully developed yet. The engineer thought it would be like grocery store where you scan one code and are done. Reality was the parts showed up from vendors with no barcode you could even scan, you had to look up what our Part No was by using the vendor's SKU.

Then when they used part, they needed to know which machine was going to use the part. So that meant a drop down box to choose which machine. And you also had to specify which toolroom location you were taking from. I could "suggest" the default location from server once they told me which part. But we have overflow areas, they could come from more than one place. So that is another drop down you may have to use. Then you have qty, which defaults to one but may have to be changed.

So you get point, this simple "scan and go" app was not going to work like a grocery store, different requirements. To even prootype this for them, I had to buy a $300 iPad mini and barcode scanner peripheral for $500. In hindsight, should have prototyped with built in camera to read barcode. Too clunky for production use but would have worked for prototype. Because as you might have guessed, by time the actual users tested and realized they had to use all the drop down inputs and virtual keyboard (if qty not one) on a machine issue, plus have to look up our Part No from vendor SKU on put away of new part, they ended up just using the green screen terminal which was just sitting there in toolroom anyway. 

So a perfectly good hardware of $800 with an app optimized for what it needed to do is just sitting there collecting dust. As a developer, I loved the experience. I had been waiting for opportunity to write a Touch app on a mobile device. So I've added that to my skillset for future. But it did not payoff from company's point of view and really nothing I can do about it unless they change the biz requirements of what the app needs to do.

But until actual shopfloor users could touch the device and use the app, they could not give any feedback. If you are writing phone app, no investment other than writing the code. But in our case, took a small investment just get something in front of users to give feedback on. 
hiren184
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hiren184,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/27/2016 | 2:23:06 AM
Each Mobile App Project has allmost different steps
Excellent post!! As per my mobile app development projects which I have done, there were almost different steps to follow. Its totally depended on app category. 
Richeux
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Richeux,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/26/2016 | 8:51:20 PM
Requirements Gathering
After reading your post my BA classes actually make sense. All 8 Best Practices slides you're describing must be linked together and recorded in one centrelised location. So the teams can collaborate efficiently and effectively. Requirements gathering is key, but the language in which these requirements are recorded is absolutely crucial. Especially for businesses outsourcing the Developement of an App.
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