Three Mobile Application Development Pitfalls To Avoid

  • Defining audience, scope and purpose reduces mobile app development pitfalls.
  • Mobile app development failures tend to fall into three common categories.

Mobile enablement is driven by a company’s desire to increase sales and empower their employees to do business on the go. Since the environment is new and rapidly evolving, numerous opportunities exist. However, there are also many potential areas for failure. I’ve discovered a common set of mistakes that companies make as they approach mobile application development strategies that fit roughly into these three categories:

1. Building apps without a plan.

Many companies move to mobile as an app building exercise. This solution is actually the output of a strategy, not the strategy itself. A business should first define what the end user (whether employees, partners, or customers) needs when using a mobile device.  Once you understand what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s much easier to pick a development method. For example, developing access to inventory isn’t the same as building a whole app. It is just a piece of an application. It’s possible to develop an app that requests one piece of information pretty quickly. But if you are just trying to mobile enable a complex application such as ERP, that’s a bigger challenge.

2. Building too much, too slowly.

Often, the company thinks it knows what it’s trying to build and the team wants to do it all at once. It’s like trying to boil the ocean — an impossible task that is frustrating and yields poor results. The business may take a year to build the app, and by then, the users needs may have changed and they won’t adopt it. Frequently, it’s a case of the users disliking an existing PC app experience that has just been recreated for the mobile world.

3. Focusing on a single development model.

The third category of pitfalls to avoid is focusing on a single method for application development. I’ve found that development teams have distinct opinions on the best way to develop an application.  I’ve spoken to companies that insist all apps must be native, while others insist on HTML-5, and others use a hybrid cross-platform development tool. The reality is, different applications have different requirements. My advice is to define the experience you want to create, and select the development model that creates the experience the app requires. Does the app require a deep integration of all the functions of the device, such as the camera and contact integration? If so, you’ll probably need to build a native integration experience. On the other hand, a call for data, such as inventory availability, could be easily accomplished in HTML-5. It could be visually appealing, functional, and developed quickly if you have the right integration into the back-end systems.

Obviously, there are many other attributes that must be considered when creating rich applications. One of these elements is embedding context into applications. This will be the focus of my next post. If we can avoid making the above mistakes, we’ll have time to focus on creating better applications.

Do you have any advice on mistakes to avoid? If so, please share your experiences them in comments.


Maribel Lopez is the CEO and mobile market strategist for Lopez Research, a market research and strategy consulting firm that specializes in communications technologies with a heavy emphasis on the disruptive nature of mobile technologies. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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