10 Ways To Doom Your Next Mobile App

There are many ways to mess up mobile app development. These 10 will get you to #fail the fastest.
Build In Too Many Features
Reuse All Your Old Code
Give Developers And Designers Different Goals
Pretend All Platforms Are The Same
Have One Team Write For Multiple Platforms At Once
Reinvent The Wheel
Think Of Mobile Apps As Miniature Web Pages
Be Really Fuzzy About Defining Success
Be Your Own Beta Tester
Forget Why You're Developing The App

We all live in a mobile world now, and the mobile world needs apps. You might be an IT professional working at a startup looking to find success on the back of an app that goes viral.

You may work at a multinational corporation, building apps for your business units to use in their work processes. No matter what your industry, if you're an IT professional, the odds are pretty good at some point you'll be called upon to build a mobile app.

There are an awful lot of ways to get mobile app development very, very wrong.

The effects of a bad mobile app can cascade far beyond the edges of the IT department, catching business processes, business units, executives, and customers in a roiling avalanche of fail.

To help you avoid such a fate, we've devised this handy list of 10 ways to kill your next mobile app. Here's the thing: As you go through the list you might well find yourself saying, "My development group would never do anything like that."

You might be right. But most of the bad practices we highlight here aren't the result of someone walking into work one day determined to fail in the most spectacular possible fashion. Most of these are the result of one completely reasonable decision after another that happen to lead down the path of development disaster.

[Federal agencies now must share code. Read Federal Source Code Policy Requires Agencies to Share Code.]

As with most lists of this sort, practically none of these problems can be put down to issues with the tools. "If only we'd chosen C++ instead of Java we never would have required 34 separate clicks to buy a roll of stamps," isn't likely to be part of anyone's real-life conversation.

No, the real disasters in mobile app development tend to stem from human decisions and processes that break down. In either case, the responsibility for fixing the problem comes back to humans. That's the good news.

It's good news because it means you can learn from the mistakes of others and free yourself and your department to make bold new mistakes. You won't set out to make mistakes, and they're not inevitable.

It's nice to be aware of, and guard against, the bad practices on this list. There will almost certainly be a positive bleed-over that helps you guard your processes against some of the creative screw-ups possible when you're trying to fit a large enterprise application onto a 5-inch screen.

These bad practices come from a variety of places, including my own conversations with development managers, discussions on the web, and my own experience as someone managing developers. The thing I'd like to add to the collection is your experience.

Once you've reviewed our paths to failure, tell us which of these seem like real problems to you. Which have you had the misfortune to experience? Have you see other spectacular ways to fail at mobile app development?

I'd like to know about your experiences, and what you would do to avoid ever having to walk through that particular scree-field of development-failure in the future. The comments section below is open -- I'll see you there!

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