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10 Reason Mobile Apps Fail - Part1

First, the bad news. In the rush to get enterprise mobile apps out the door fast, a lot of things aren’t turning out as expected. A surprising number of these apps end up with low user adoption, short shelf lives, and disappointing ROI. The good news is that about 90% of mobile app failures can be attributed to the same 10 reasons – and all of them can be avoided. Use these 10 points as a kind of pre-flight checklist before planning any new mobile initiative, and you dramatically improve your chances of a successful launch.

Reason #1: Did not target multiple platforms

This is the single biggest problem we see with enterprise apps today. Many IT organizations have limited skill sets and only develop for the platforms they know. Others assume that development for multiple platforms will be too costly. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. And the opportunity cost of not targeting multiple platforms is the greatest cost of all. If your app isn’t working on all the major platforms, you will be left behind. This is not the place to cut corners.

Reason #2: Poor user interface

Mobile users will give your app 5-10 seconds. If the app doesn’t engage them immediately, they’re gone. That’s because people behave so differently on mobile devices than on desktops. Attention spans are shorter. Tolerance for clunky interfaces is nil. And user experience is absolutely everything. What can you do about it? Get an experienced designer to create the user interface. This is a job for designers, not engineers. Do it right, and your users will see the difference.

Reason #3: Direct port of a web/client app

It sounds like such a smart idea. You’ve got all this great functionality on your web portals, so why not just port it over to your mobile apps? Here’s why not: because mobile isn’t web. Web functionality doesn’t translate well to mobile devices. Point-and-click is a perfect example. It’s great on a desktop or laptop, but awful on a tiny mobile device. On the other hand, mobile devices let you add many features that weren’t available in your web apps (see Reason #4). Bottom line? Mobile apps work best when you develop for mobile instead of trying to turn a desktop app into a mobile app.

Reason #4:. Improper or no use of device capabilities

Think about all the capabilities of your mobile device that you don’t have on your laptop or desktop. Mobile devices let you leverage GPS with location-based services. They can capture signatures and scan barcodes. They give you the capabilities of a camera and the opportunity to interface with contacts. The most effective, useful mobile apps are designed to take full advantage of capabilities like these. However, they must be intuitive, simple, and seamlessly integrated.

Reason #5: Poor performance, memory usage, response

Developers who’ve spent a lot of time creating web or server apps will quickly discover that mobile is a whole new world. The challenges are greater and the tolerances smaller. All code for mobile apps must be extremely well-optimized, or it will result in a slow, clunky, negative user experience. Any app that doesn’t respond instantly to user interactions will be dead on arrival.

Come on back to see the other five reasons in our next blog post.

Did you notice the recurring theme among all these reasons? It’s that you can’t approach mobile app development the way you would tackle a web project. The differences between the two are greater than most organizations realize. That’s where they run into trouble. In Part Two of this series, we’ll look at the other five reasons mobile apps fail.

To learn more, download our ebook: The 2014 Bottleneck Report on Enterprise Mobile

Randall McCroskey

About the author

Randall McCroskey

Vice President, Enterprise Solutions

Since 2006, Randall has been helping technology executives digitally transform their business as Vice President of Pyramid Consulting. Relationships are his daily driving force and his desire to trust and serve those in his professional and personal life constantly motivate him. Atlanta is a great city for Randall, as he hates the cold and prefers warm weather near the water. His greatest pride is the partnerships with colleagues, friends, and fellow professionals he has made along the way.

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