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Keep mobile UX design at the app development forefront

Developers have a lot to check off on their to-do lists, such as choosing between platforms and frameworks. But mobile user experience should top the list.

Before jumping into enterprise mobile application development, IT must keep the big picture in mind. That picture includes everything from the types of tools needed to build and manage apps to mobile UX design.

IT should also integrate the mobile app development phase into a larger app lifecycle management infrastructure that also incorporates build processes, source control, quality assurance, deployment, change management and more.

Think of how an app will be developed, tested, updated, deployed and maintained throughout its lifecycle. That includes taking into account how it will scale across multiple data centers, and how it will integrate with enterprise and third-party services and tools, such as client management or mobile device management tools.

Remember that the number of mobile apps has continued to grow, and so has the variety of tools and services available for handling all phases of the application lifecycle. For example, companies might consider a mobile application development framework to build cross-platform apps, or a mobile application development platform to offload much of the work that goes into implementing and maintaining an in-house development infrastructure.

Part one: Building mobile apps for business

Part three: Mobile app dev thrives on content

Mobile UX design

An enterprise app that does not take the mobile user experience (UX) into account is destined to fail. UX is the overall experience users have when they engage with the app, regardless of the tasks they're trying to perform. It goes far beyond how the user interface (UI) is laid out, what features are available or how easy they are to access.

UX incorporates these things, but it is much broader in scope and takes into account many more factors. For example, mobile UX can also refer to how useful the app is, how relevant the features are, the app's general usability or how well it performs. When it comes to how the user engages with the app, there is little that does not fall under the UX purview.

Mobility experts talk the benefits and challenges of creating enterprise apps in this video from M-Enterprise Boston.

Part of the mobile UX equation is to ensure that the app is as intuitive, responsive and user-friendly as possible. The UI should be clean and simple, without a lot of clutter. Developers should be particularly vigilant about cramming in features that are more about wowing the user than serving the app's primary purpose. Avoid over-engineering the app or making the tasks too complex to perform. If users spend too much time trying to figure out how features are supposed to work, there is a problem with the UX design.

The app should avoid unusual elements or unexpected gestures and instead stick with industry standards for tasks such as opening files, accessing menus or switching between screens. Where appropriate, the app should also take advantage of built-in features, such as the camera or GPS. But be wary of introducing elements that could affect other systems and apps or be affected by their operations.

Above all, keep in mind that the application should not try to be a desktop. Break complex processes into discrete tasks and make it clear how each one relates to the larger workflow and supports the app's primary purpose. The app should be intuitive, predictable and familiar right out of the gate.

Next Steps

Build a better mobile UX with design thinking

Apps succeed with mobile UX design

How to overcome mobile app UX design woes

This was last published in September 2016

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