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Straight talking guide to corporate mobile app development...


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The corporate app world is a complex one. The purpose of this ebook is to provide a simple guide as to how organisations should approach corporate app development.

Published in: Marketing, Technology, Design
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Straight talking guide to corporate mobile app development...

  1. 1. Clients: Here’s a straight talking, entry level guide to approaching corporate mobile app development.
  2. 2. Apps have become an organisations must have accessory.
  3. 3. Organisations regularly suggest ‘an app’ as a channel they would like to use. With no real reason given as to why, other than it being ‘the cool thing to be doing’. So jumping on the bandwagon if you like - Doing something just because others are.
  4. 4. Don’t get us wrong, it’s great that clients identify mobile as an area to give attention to. It’s the right thing to be doing. But clients need to be doing the right thing with mobile.
  5. 5. Clients first need to take a step back and look at their overall mobile strategy.
  6. 6. For example, you may be thinking about repackaging your corporate websites content into an app.
  7. 7. For this, an app is perhaps not the correct mobile strategy. Instead, creating a mobile optimised website is what you should be focusing on achieving.
  8. 8. It’s crazy, that 60% of the UK’s 100 biggest advertisers still don’t have a mobile-optimised website*. Yet you can bet your bottom dollar that the majority have developed some sort of mobile app. This is simply because they are not looking at their overall mobile strategy. *Source:
  9. 9. In the early days of apps, Nestlé jumped on the app bandwagon and produced a range of corporate communication apps, which were essentially their corporate websites repackaged as apps.
  10. 10. In the words of Amy Howard (Head of global corporate websites at Nestlé) they are now ‘leaving the apps to quietly die’. Speaking at Communicate Magazines Best Practice Corporate App Event.
  11. 11. Nestlé readdressed their mobile strategy, and recognised in this instance the continued high investment in the apps was not justified.
  12. 12. Nestlé understood that an app should strive to provide a simple function / task that the user regularly wishes to carry out.
  13. 13. The use case of an application is always TO DO something with it.
  14. 14. Nestlé’s apps were not providing a task/service that users regularly wanted to carry out. And the apps did not offer an experience that took advantage of the benefits of an app, meaning there was no more reason for people to use the app instead of heading to the existing website.
  15. 15. Nestlé’s mobile strategy changed from a focus on corporate websites as apps, to mobile optimised corporate websites.
  16. 16. The evolution of apps can be likened to the evolution of websites.
  17. 17. In the beginning, everybody rushed into building websites and no one really knew the best practice in doing so. As you can imagine, a lot of poor websites soon arrived.
  18. 18. Over time, and through experience, it became clear as to what worked well for websites, so it was easier to identify a good website from a poor one.
  19. 19. And so GREAT websites started to arrive.
  20. 20. With apps, we’d say we’re now at the point where people know a good app when they see/experience one.
  21. 21. Which makes it all the more important to ensure you are building GREAT apps today.
  22. 22. But there’s a lot to think about when building a GREAT app.
  23. 23. Firstly, there are 3 main types of app you can build: Native, Web or Hybrid. And there is much debate as to which type is best.
  24. 24. 1. Native app These are developed specifically for one platform (IOS, Android, etc). They are installed through an application store (such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store). Your app is packaged and sent to the app store, it is downloaded from there onto the device (where it then lives), so takes up memory/storage space.
  25. 25. 1. Native app Benefits: • They can take full advantage of all of the device features, such as the camera, GPS, accelerometer and push notification system.
 • They can work offline when there is no connectivity.
 • They provide a user interface that is consistent with the operating system – so provide a great user experience. • Clear and dedicated distribution channel (app store).
  26. 26. 1. Native app Drawbacks: • The costs involved in creating and maintaining a native app is high (Due to the requirement of specialist skills) and you will need to develop and maintain a separate app for each platform you wish to support, again adding to the costs. • Maintaining a native app can be complicated (especially if they have to deal with multiple versions of the same information on different platforms): Changes have to be packaged in a new version and placed in the app store.
  27. 27. 2. Web apps A web application is built using HTML, CSS and JavaScript and lives (hosted) entirely online, so run by a browser. They are accessed like you would any web page; you navigate to a special URL and then have the option of installing them on the home screen of your device.
  28. 28. 1. Web app Benefits: • Can be used cross platform – Any device that can display a website can see your app.   • Updates to the application are immediate and pulled from a central location.   • Cheaper than native development.   • No need to submit to App Stores (faster, non-restricted launch).
  29. 29. 1. Web app Drawbacks: • They can’t be added to the Android and Apple app stores. • They don’t provide access to all of the features of a device (such as the camera or push notifications). • Limited in offline use. HTML5 does have in-browser caching, but no way near as good as a native app. • Can be slow, or lag, dependent on connectivity.
  30. 30. 3. Hybrid apps These are part native apps, part web apps. In simple terms they are web apps housed within a native wrapper, so they rely on HTML being rendered in a browser, but the browser is embedded within the app.
  31. 31. 1. Hybrid app Benefits: • Cross platform capability • They allow access to many native features such as access to push notifications. • They can be distributed like a mobile web app (i.e., via web browsing) or like a native app (i.e., via app store for direct download).   • Cheaper than native development.
  32. 32. 1. Hybrid app Drawbacks: • Not the look and feel of a native app. The HTML5 code could be customized to achieve this, but then it would need to be coded differently for each platform.   • Still need access to different native coding skills.   • Not as cheap as web apps.
  33. 33. You’ll find Google littered with views on which type of app is better.
  34. 34. The simple truth? Native apps are the best, in terms of performance and usability. BUT…
  35. 35. They may not be the best type of app to develop based on your specific needs and situation.
  36. 36. The following are six things the client should consider, to help inform the decision on what type of app is appropriate for their needs.
  37. 37. 1. Cost: What budget can you allocate to the app? Native apps could be too expensive.
  38. 38. 2. Cross-platform compatibility: What devices would you like the app to be made available for? If you want to target the widest amount of users than a web app could be the way to go. Investigation into what devices your audience uses is particularly important and helpful.
  39. 39. 3. Feature requirements: What parts of the operating system will the app require access to, if any? If your app is dependent on using some of the phones features then you will have to build a native or hybrid app.
  40. 40. 4. Complexity of the app: A native app will ensure complex apps have the best user experience possible as can take advantage of the processing power of the device.
  41. 41. 5. Type of information being deployed: Is your mobile application mainly to be used to display and interact with online information that is constantly updated? Then it’s probably best to avoid the native approach.
  42. 42. 6. Speed of Launch: How quickly would you like the app brought to market? Native and Hybrid app development will take longer than web app development.
  43. 43. So what does the future hold for app development?
  44. 44. Of course the ideal solution would be to ‘write once – use anywhere’. The mantra of HTML5. But a successful app requires a GREAT user experience. Which as yet, HTML5 is some way off (when compared to native) and it doesn’t look like this will change for some time yet. This is because…
  45. 45. HTML5 is governed by the World Wide Web Consortium, so any developments and changes need to go through a lengthy and timely approval process. Meaning that HTML5 will never evolve fast enough to match the constantly rising bar of user experience delivered via native operating systems.
  46. 46. This is evident from the view of Mark Zuckerberg, when he said ‘The biggest mistake we’ve made as a company is betting on HTML5* over native.’ This was because Facebook’s specific needs were performance/speed and usability, at the highest possible level. So native apps were the answer, which they now have. *It was a hybrid app
  47. 47. HOWEVER…
  48. 48. As fragmentation of devices continues to increase, organisations will want to ensure they are reaching the widest amount of devices with their apps, yet it has to be done cost effectively.
  49. 49. Building an app for just one operating system just doesn’t cut it anymore.
  50. 50. This has led to many claiming hybrid apps are set to rise in popularity. Gartner says by 2016, more than 50 percent of mobile apps deployed will be hybrid.
  51. 51. To conclude. The correct apps for you to build now, are the one’s right for your current situation. Over time your situation will change and the apps you are building will change in accordance. The app users will determine whether or not your app strategy is correct.
  52. 52. Being successful in the digital world is all about velocity (There’s a brilliant book on this from AKQA’s founder and Nike’s VP of digital, you can find it here). It’s not waiting to think what is absolutely the best approach to take, it is about doing and then changing as and when required, at speed.
  53. 53. We hope this has provided you with a basic understanding of the corporate app world. There is of course a lot more which we could have covered in more detail, but arguably it is information of relevance to the agency and not really of benefit to the client. Please do get in touch if you’d like any further help with your mobile app strategy. Thanks