How to make a success of your mobile application project

by bold-lichterman

A mobile application project –B2B, B2C or business– is not an IT project, nor even a Web project like any other. To be successful, it must be carried out with agility and speed, while constantly prioritizing the user experience. Innovative design and collaborative prototyping methods make it possible to meet this challenge and deliver applications in 3 months in line with the expectations and uses of the audiences they are intended for.

Every day, hundreds of new mobile applications appear in the main app stores of the market. It is an understatement to say that not all will meet the expected success … With more than 2.2 million apps available on Google Play and 2 million in theApp store Apple’s public offering is bloated, but dominated by a handful of flagship applications – games, instant messaging and social networks – which have hundreds of millions of users.

Alongside this public offering, there is a less visible but very fast-growing market: that of professional or “business” apps which, by transforming the way we work, open up new prospects for increased productivity and efficiency, in all functions and in all sectors. For example, the Ricard company has been able to fully digitize the quality control process of its production unit in Lormont (in Gironde) by equipping operators with a tablet application which allows statements to be made and transmitted without going through paper. . For Alexandre Defrance, director of the Lormont industrial site: “This project is an important shift for the production teams, with the arrival of digital in the bottling hall. We retain control of our quality process while gaining instantaneous, responsive and reliable, all in zero paper. The unifying and innovative nature of the concept motivates employees to operational excellence.

No need to hope to realize these promises and obtain such results by transposing or adapting to mobile an application originally designed for computers. This approach is doomed to fail. Whether your mobile application is aimed at the general public, your customers or your employees, it is essential to understand that it is a full-fledged and specific project. To be successful, this project must absolutely:

>> be fully thought out and developed for mobile, in the spirit of mobile, and not as a classic software or Web project;

>> respect the fundamentals that any smartphone or tablet user implicitly expects from an app and which are conditions sine qua non of its adoption: a playful dimension, simplicity, intuitiveness and speed.

It is no coincidence that the most effective methods of creating mobile applications take up precisely two of these fundamentals. Focused on the user experience, they are resolutely playful and favor speed, especially in the design phase.

A “clickable” prototype in 3 weeks

In a real “mobile factory”, the creation and development teams work hand in hand and, above all, get the future users on board from the start of the project, in a logic of co-creation based on the principles of Design Sprint. Born in the Google universe, this methodology allows, in a very short time, to respond through design and prototyping to user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) issues.

Without prior specifications, creativity workshops based on serious games make it possible to bring out the expectations and ideas of users and, very quickly, to move on to collaborative prototyping. For example, with a platform like Invision, it is now easy to create “clickable” models from interfaces designed by creatives – without writing a single line of code and therefore directly usable on tablet or smartphone! This image dynamization technique makes it possible to link the screens and therefore to test the user journeys in a realistic way. Users can “play” with this model which will be easily modified according to their remarks until it satisfies them in terms of use and navigation. The secret to the success of this design phase lies in:

>> the absence of traditional specifications, which gives users complete freedom to invent the app that suits them, without being hampered by functional requirements defined a priori and without worrying about the realities of use;

>> rapid iteration between users and designers, which avoids getting bogged down in crippling ergonomic errors which will be difficult and costly to correct once the application has been coded;

>> the deliberately limited duration of the process, which eliminates the temptation to want to cover everything the first time and forces you to focus on the essentials and essentials, both in terms of use and features, to quickly have a first operational version of the application.

A V1 in 3 months maximum

When the model has been “frozen”, we enter the manufacturing phase, that is to say the coding which will make it possible to go from a succession of screens – which are only images – to interfaces functional. The use of industrial methods of development, testing and continuous integration ensures that the product code complies with market standards. The continual presence of creatives with developers guarantees, for its part, the “pixel-perfect” conformity of what is developed to what was imagined with users during the design phase.

We must accept – and this is not the easiest for corporate IT teams – that the V1 of a mobile application is if not basic, at least limited to the essential in terms of functionality. This is what makes it possible to go quickly, knowing that a mobile project that lasts more than 3 months tends to drift, to get bogged down by falling into the ways of perfectionism. It is better to start “small” and quickly deliver a first version – certainly incomplete, but flawless in terms of UX – bearing in mind that a successful mobile project never ends with V1.

A real development plan, from V1

When V1 is published – in a public or private app store – the real life of the application begins and you must already have in mind the first steps of a 6 or 9 month evolution plan, aimed at:

>> enrich the following version, by taking up ideas from the design phase that could not be implemented in V1;

>> integrate comments, comments and feedback from users on V1 in a logic of continuous improvement of the user experience;

>> revive user interest by regularly announcing new features, improvements and enhancements.

A mobile application that does not evolve can die very quickly because it disappoints users, because it does not integrate the latest graphic codes or navigation modes … This is the reason why players offering very popular ones, such as Mappy and SNCF, have made their updating strategy a marketing tool to regularly boost user interest, with changes every 2 to 4 weeks. They editorialize their development plan and use well-known community management methods to continuously capture feedback from their users, on app stores or on social networks.

For a business application, the rate of change will generally be less sustained, but it is wise to draw inspiration from these community animation methods to involve employees in the life of the tools they use on a daily basis. We thus make sure to stay as close as possible not only to their professional needs, but also to the standards of use that condition their long-term adherence – the biggest challenge being, release after release, to manage to preserve the ease of use of the original application.

Don’t hesitate to kill an aging application

A mobile application cannot evolve ad infinitum. The lifespan of applications is also tending to shorten: it is now a year and a half, two years maximum, for technical reasons but above all because the initial design is out of step with current uses. For example, the burger menu which has become widespread in a very short time, makes any other form of menu seem “outdated”, even in a professional app. Fashion changes of this type are difficult to anticipate but quickly impose themselves on everyone. Integrating them into an existing app can become increasingly complex and expensive. There comes a time when it makes more sense to kill the old application and redevelop it so that it is back to the state of the art and can support a new cycle of evolution.

This is the strategy adopted for all major consumer applications which, practically every year, change not only interface and ergonomics but also in-depth in order to make the most of changes in operating systems and technology. ‘technical environment. This acceleration, which requires recoding, is particularly frustrating for developers: today, the success of a mobile application depends less on well-written code than on the user experience and the “sexy” and innovative nature of the application. ‘interface. This applies to both consumer apps and business apps, for an obvious reason: the daily user of the Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat app expects to find the same simplicity and the same quality in their professional applications. of experience. It is a decisive condition of acceptability, it is up to designers and developers to combine their talents to hide the underlying complexity and deliver ever simpler and more intuitive applications.

  • Want to imagine everything right away to have the most exhaustive application possible. This lengthens the deadlines, but a mobile project must be fast. The goal should be to release a first version in less than 3 months.
  • Design the app without the end users, starting from a simple collection of needs. UX is the crucial dimension for app adoption and membership. Users must be involved in the design, creation and validation phase of the model.
  • Based on traditional specifications. By the time it is developed and finalized, the needs have already changed. Take an approach fail fast is much more efficient.
  • Neglecting the management of change. Business mobile applications challenge habits and processes, even organizations. Users must be supported to experience this transition well.

The native Apple and Android languages ​​are the essential standards of the market. An application developed in one of these languages ​​does not work on the other platform, which means that you have to develop the application twice if you want to be present in both worlds.

Hybrid languages ​​offer an alternative by making it possible to develop the core of the application once and to specialize the application at the end of the chain so that it can be used on both platforms.

If the economic benefit is real,
It should be noted that apps developed in native language offer better performance in large transactional contexts.

Jean-Philippe ClairJean-Philippe Clair in 1999, took part in the creation of the publisher Knowings, which over the years became a major player in collaborative solutions. In 2011, he joined the SQLI group to take charge of the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) division then of the Digital Consulting division of Wax Interactive in Lyon. He joins Keyrus in 2014 to lead digital operations in the region, also overseeing various consulting missions on Mobile & Digital Transformation subjects, and took over the management of the Keyrus Digital Agency France in 2016