Mobile for B2B: Design Considerations


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Thinking of developing a mobile app for your business? Should you go for a native, device-based application or a web-based application? This white paper addresses some of the design considerations surrounding each approach...

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Mobile for B2B: Design Considerations

  1. 1. Mobile for B2B: Design Considerations Page1Mobile for B2BDesign ConsiderationsAugust 2011Rajen Mistry & Rob Hurst
  2. 2. Mobile for B2B: Design Considerations Page2IntroMobile for B2B SeriesThis paper is one of a series we’ve 1. Native or Web?written to help answer some of the 2. Design considerationsquestions we often hear from clients 3. Security considerationsnow that mobile content is firmly on 4. Cross compiled appsthe B2B marketing agenda.Web apps or native apps? How tooptimise content? What should anapp look like? Why might I need anapp and how can it benefit mymarketing activities?This series aims to give some usefulcontext for anyone considering howto make the most of mobile as amarketing channel.
  3. 3. Mobile for B2B: Design Considerations Page 3Introduction We hope they will help inform your planning and decision making – and open up some of the possibilities of designing for mobile content.There are many considerations in planning theuse of mobile as a marketing channel – decidingwhat content to optimise, what functionality Richer User Interfaceyou need, what audience you can reach andwhether you should develop a native or webapp. Native apps allow for a richer and moreAll of the functionality and technical decisions beguilingly beautiful interface, nothing is left tothat you’ll need to make have an impact on the chance because the device though which thefinal user experience and design. Sometimes user will experience the app is known and it isthe design requirements are going to lead the possible to control exactly how contentway – and define the technical approach. behaves – there are pit falls though, it isSometimes the technical approach will need to possible to get caught up with what is possiblelead – and in doing so will define some of the and forget your user and their requirements. Conversely with web apps, the act of trying toThere is no right or wrong approach – the optimise content for the range of smart phonedecisions can only be made taking into account devices now available means that there is oftenwhat your app needs to achieve and who your a huge technical challenge in maintaining atarget audience are – but having some consistent design across all devices.awareness of the design considerations whenplanning mobile apps and some of the The rich design experience that can be achievedrestrictions of different approaches is in native apps can be exploited to allow for aimportant in selecting the right approach. potentially better, more immersive brand experience that enables you to reflect yourThe fundamental choice is business USPs and values across a new channel.the one you will make With a native app you can either borrow frombetween web or native app; the devices user interface (UI) standard or replace these ‘normal’ UI elements with yourchoose to optimize your app, own brand’s look, in doing so you can create awhat your app does and what true-to-brand visual look & feel to include colours, fonts, graphics and even animations,it looks like by choosing the where appropriate.right platform for it.There is no definitive answer to choosing theright platform, from a design or any otherperspective. In this paper we want to outlinesome of the considerations in designing foreach approach, what can be achieved with eachapproach and some of the inevitablelimitations.
  4. 4. Mobile for B2B: Design Considerations Page 4In these examples a custom design to This example is an obvious departure fromreplace the standard iPhone UI has been the orthodox and there’s no guarantee thatapplied but wisely kept in the same location users would understand it withoutkeeping the experience familiar and sufficient testing.consistent. Where symbols are less intuitivelabels ensure a clear user experience.
  5. 5. Mobile for B2B: Design Considerations Page 5 based, that the user can useIt’s important to bear in mind though why intuitively.those device specific standard UI elements Design Efficiencywere created - be careful to do them the samejustice with your replacements, as the standardUI elements have usually been thoroughlytested for how they look and feel, and what It may look like an app but will it work likethey do. Consider whether it’s obvious that the one?user can interact with and touch something,click it, or swipe it. Is it legible? Can you read or On the whole UI design for web apps can beinterpret what it asks you to do? Is it even big visually similar to a native app counterpart.enough, in fact, for fingers to interact with? However, performance is a major factor when trying to mirror the user experience of a nativeSyPhone app takes the UI in a completely app with a web one. Not having the power ofbespoke direction, using family components hardware acceleration and slow connectionsin a different way – good or bad usually the can mean that the design elements make theuser decides very quickly. app slow to respond and lagging the user interaction, things may not move as you expect or load as quickly as you, and your user, would like them to. Designing an app for the web means designing efficiently and not expecting more of it than the device and connection will be able to deliver. ‘Oh no’, I hear you say, does this mean my web app has to look boring and simple? Far from it actually, a good example of this comes from Facebook, if you compare the Facebook web app to its native sibling, it looks almostThere are so many possibilities and variables, it identical; the brand identity comes acrossis possible to get carried away, always keep the clearly as does the intuitive experience of theend user in mind and be aware of the actions desktop browser version.and behaviors they are familiar with and willunderstand.The Holy Grail is to create anapp, whether native or web
  6. 6. Mobile for B2B: Design Considerations Page 6Facebook’s native app understand what the app is trying to do and reflect that in your design approach. Far better to design a simple app which works well and is easy to use, than an overly complicated one which fails on user experience. So whilst you are limited in some cases, it’s best to concentrate on making sure the app does what it’s supposed to functionally, but maybe without some of the bells and whistles a native app’s device can provide. Factors to consider include whether you really do need to fake a finger-swipe (when the screen contents move not with your finger, but afterwards), when you can simply scroll? Do you need to be able to delete by swiping and clicking if you can just add a delete button? ConclusionAnd its web app sibling The challenge for user experience design is the same for both native and for web apps and always comes back to the user and delivering the best experience for them. Ultimately, once you make your choice on platform, there will always be a way to create a design to effectively deliver and subsequently optimize what you want to achieve with your app. It’s ok to let your creativity flow but don’t forget to be true to the choice you made in the first place, and the design considerations that come with it. Read the rest of the Mobile for B2B series. 1. Native or Web? 2. Design considerationsSimplicity 3. Security considerationsSimplicity should be the goal for web apps; just 4. Cross compiled appsas with native apps, they need to perform atask and perform it well. It is important to
  7. 7. Mobile for B2B: Design Considerations Page7Omobono is an award winningdigital agency specialising in branddevelopment and engagement forlarge corporates and government.We believe no one has a betterunderstanding of businessaudiences and how to reach them.For more information, please contactRob Hurst on or+44 (0) 1223 307000.© 2011 Omobono Ltd.All ideas, concepts, brand-related names, strap lines, phrases, copy/text andcreative concepts developed and contained within this document remain theintellectual property of Omobono Ltd until such time as they are procured by athird party.Anyone viewing this document may not use, adapt of modify the contents withoutour prior consent.