Part 1 of the Menlo Technologies series
Mobile App Development 101


Mobile is hot.

But you already knew that. By the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organizations’ capacity to deliver them, according to recent research by Gartner, Inc. Gartner forecasts mobile phone sales will reach 2.1 billion units by 2019, which will fuel demand for apps in the enterprise that meet the high performance and usability of consumer apps.
The timing could not be better for developing mobile apps, but before you get too carried away, consider the complexity of such an undertaking and of the many (complex) steps between concept and release. In their groundbreaking new book Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World, Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt offer insights into how simplify complicated projects, in the form of Simple Rules—shortcut strategies that focus attention and simplify the way we process (too much!)Information. Their book inspired me to write these 5 Simple Rules for Mobile Development:

  1. Start with the user. Think about the profile of those who will use the app, their goals and challenges, and how your solution will help them. Design the mobile app with the user’s involvement throughout the design process, leading to a solution that your client will find useful and want to use.  Make sure you understand all of the key elements of the mobile users’ requirements.
  2. Strive for simplicity. A mobile app must be easy to use or people won’t use it. Who is using the app, and to do what?  The design needs to help users achieve their goals in the most efficient way possible. Don’t assume that users will know to swipe content or understand where to tap and why. It’s up to you to make those interactions intuitive and easily understood.
  3. Respect the platform . Don’t try to re-create a web app as a mobile app. Web sites run on computers and are not meant for touch screen access. Aside from the touch UI, mobile platforms have a number of key differences: they offer location awareness, navigation capability, photo capability and other features which are available to create a powerful user experience. Mobile apps also have the advantage of access anywhere, any time, and from any mobile device for quick and responsive interactions.
  4. Be mindful of limitations. Mobile apps have unique capabilities, including photo, video and location awareness, but remember to optimize the design for strong performance. Carriers, locations, and devices can all have a pronounced effect on mobile web performance.
  5. Stand out. The app needs to look great. Users have many thousands of mobile apps to chose from, and many millions more of mobile-optimized websites. They’ll stick with mobile apps that perform well, are intuitive and easy to use and that do such a great job that they don’t know how they survived without them.

Gary Prioste is the CEO of Menlo Technologies, a global services company specializing in cloud integration and mobile technology in the heart of Silicon Valley. Gary has over 25 years of experience building and operating technology organizations.