Mobile Strategy

Developing a mobile strategy is critical to ensuring you reach the widest mobile market for the minimum cost / effort. There are many options to choose between including different native platforms, different types of multichannel web or even a combined native and web application.

Developing native applications that reach all customers across the required spectrum of operating systems and devices is extremely challenging if not impossible. Customers expect applications to run flawlessly on their device however uncommon it is. With the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon internal native applications also need to work across a wide range of operating systems and devices.

Keeping up with different languages, APIs, security, and capabilities across such diversity requires an enormous effort as the rate of change for mobiles is extremely high.

A mobile strategy can help by ensuring you focus on the most important areas.

Several tips for a mobile strategy are:

  1. Keep it Simple

    A general principle to follow for multichannel sites is don't try to compete with native applications and when in doubt, leave it out.

    “No matter how beautiful, no matter how cool your interface, it would be better if there were less of it.”

    - Alan Cooper

  2. Focus on Key native platforms

    Gather data on which devices and operating systems are used by those customers who are the most important. This could be the customers making the most profit or the customers in an area (corporate, youth, etc) you plan to expand into.

    When analysing figures of existing use or profit make sure you take into account the existing experience you provide for a given platform. For example, if you don't provide a suitable BlackBerry experience, that may be the only reason your customer figures for BlackBerry are very low. Make sure to validate / compare your figures against general usage figures for platforms in the given market sector. This information can be easily found from many sources, including:

  3. Fallback to multichannel web

    Develop a multichannel web application that covers:

    • customers using a platform not supported by a native application
    • customers who won't use a native application
    • customers who don't know about the native application
    • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to drive customers to the native application (on supported platforms)

    This means the web site doesn't need to be too flashy or complex. Leave the cool flashy features to the native applications as they are targeted to a specific platform. The web site must work across all platforms (at least to an acceptable level) so keep it simple (while still providing the most important functionality). Avoid JavaScript or the latest HTML5 techniques as it is too expensive to get these to work reliably across all platforms. Don't forget complex HTML5 features and JavaScript is not supported by search bots and so could damage your SEO unless you provide a suitable fallback.

    If required, for a small selected group of platforms, it is possible to add special features to the web site (i.e. using JavaScript or HTML5) on a case by case basis. However, this should only be done once the basic multi platform features are completed.

Remember when developing a mobile strategy - keep it simple - the cost of complexity can lead to projects under delivering and overrunning. Adding complexity to a mobile strategy by trying to support too wide a set of devices or having a flashy multichannel web application will likely have a significant continuos cost and will reduce flexibility. It is always easier to add complexity then to remove it.