You likely aren’t surprised to learn that overall app use rose 76% last year, according to mobile analytics firm Flurry. It’s also not surprising that the category experiencing the most growth was shopping and lifestyle apps, which grew a phenomenal 174%.
But what you may find surprising is the second-highest growth rate category – utilities and productivity apps, which rose 121%. That’s a higher growth rate than among travel, messaging/social and health and wellness apps.
While consumer apps get all of the press, many companies are developing apps for use by their employees and customers. When it comes to user experience, the B2B app development space is not as mature as the consumer space, but the design and usability expectations that consumers have about their apps spill over into their use of business apps.
That can present design challenges for business apps. And that’s exactly what we address in our latest e-book, “5 Ways to Design Apps with User Experience and Business Needs in Mind.” (link) It doesn’t matter whether the app will be used in business or in the consumer marketplace, the foundational work that needs to be done is the same.
As you read the e-book, you will learn that development should:
1. Be driven by product managers, not engineers
2. Meet users where they are
3. Respect the user
4. Be supported with back-end systems
5. Present a uniform experience to the user
Let’s look at each point in a little more depth.
Product managers driving development sounds logical, but that isn’t what happens at most companies. Product managers know they need (or want) an app, but the engineers have the knowledge about building apps, so they take point. But that doesn’t do the enterprise or the users any good.
IT definitely has a critical role to play, but that role is developing the app the product managers envision.
Meeting users where they are also seems straightforward, but designing to that standard can create a bottleneck for many companies. There are hundreds of device types, with varying screen sizes and functionalities. And your apps should be as device-agnostic as possible while taking advantages of the unique capabilities of each platform.
Respecting the user is a critical consideration. How soon would you abandon an app that takes too long to load or too long to respond to a request? This is where user experience (UX) meets business needs head on, at the intersection where an app needs to fulfill its objective while respecting the user.
Back-end support probably is the top concern for a successful business app. A robust architecture that links appropriate systems will ensure a good user experience without unnecessary delays or glitches. Proper safeguards must authenticate the user and the device before any sensitive information is transmitted. Determining what types of information you need to push to or pull from back-office systems will make app development faster and cheaper than retrofitting at the last minute.
Finally, a uniform user experience across your apps helps “brand” your company and requires standard technologies, frameworks and processes. Developing these commonalities requires cooperation across the enterprise and is an example of where a mobile center of excellence can help a company develop a broader view of its app portfolio.
You’ll find more useful tips and tactics that can take your company’s app design to the next level when you download our new e-book, “5 Ways to Design Apps with User Experience and Business Needs in Mind.” And if you discover a bottleneck on your next app project, please know that we are here to help.