The history of the internet is littered with companies who failed because they did not adapt to new technology. Blockbuster missed the boat on video streaming, Borders didn’t survive the rise of Amazon and e-readers, and Kodak found itself left in the dust by smartphone cameras.
Mobile technology has literally taken over the world, and businesses that do not invest quickly or heavily enough in mobile soon become obsolete. However, it is equally important to invest intelligently in mobile. Simply having an app is not sufficient.
The app has to make sense and provide value to customers in order to drive results, otherwise you end up with a disaster (like “3D Steak” by Longhorn Steakhouse, which allows users to flip a 3D steak on a virtual grill). In fact, research shows that bad apps can hurt brand names.
A Harris Interactive poll found that 69 percent of Americans say that if an app backed by a brand is not useful, helpful or easy to use, it results in a negative perception of the brand.
Here are five guidelines that businesses can follow to successfully convert their web app to mobile.
1. Stay loyal to your roots.
The styling of your mobile application should align with the mobile web site it is replacing. Choose your design guidelines upfront and be consistent. A cohesive design is important for cultivating your brand’s identity and providing users with a familiar experience. If a significant design change is on the horizon, apply it to the site before the app launches or update the application after the inaugural version is published to an app marketplace.
2. Choose your design guidelines upfront and be consistent.
Migrating native design elements from one operating system to another can dilute the user experience. There are two options when migrating from mobile web to native applications. The first is to develop a user experience and visual design internally and apply it to all applicable OS’s. The second is to adhere to the human interaction and design guidelines of each OS (Android and iOS) and adjust the overall look and feel of your application to meld seamlessly.
3. Balance data usage.
When converting a web app to mobile, companies have to figure out how to manage the on-device and network data transactions in order to minimize their application’s impact on users’ data plans. At the same time, they also have to maintain a moderate data footprint on the user’s physical device. This can be a difficult balancing act, but highlights the importance of a sound data architecture and rigorous quality assurance testing.
4. Use push notifications sparingly.
Push notifications are one of the greatest capabilities of mobile applications because they enable businesses to engage consumers at key moments, whether it’s to send a reminder or deliver an offer. It can be tempting to overuse push notifications, but this is one of the fastest ways to curb engagement. Too many pings irritate and alienate users to the point that they opt out of continued communication, delete the app and/or write negative reviews.
5. Take advantage of the native features of each OS.
Every mobile operating system has native features that can take your app to the next level. Don’t be shy about using these features to enhance the user experience of your application. For example, for payment processing, you can leverage Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. For iOS apps, TouchID is a great security tool and ForceTouch presents new, exciting opportunities for user interaction.
In today’s mobile world, apps are essential for engaging existing users and attracting new customers. The mobile web is great for many reasons, but when it comes to delivering a seamless, robust user experience on mobile, it is no substitute for apps. However, misjudgments during the process of creating an app can have serious consequences, not only in wasted development costs, but also in harm to a company’s reputation. Building an app that actually benefits your users will benefit your business as well.