Nearshore Americas

In Nearshore Mobile Development, the User Should Come First (Part 1)

As companies across industries continue to engage Nearshore providers for mobile app development, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: the line between great mobile apps and bad ones is becoming easier to see.

And what makes a great mobile app? A great experience for the client’s user. The best apps are those that can engage the users beyond a mere day or two, and keep the client top-of-mind with their customers by becoming a go-to destination on their devices.

For clients engaging a Nearshore provider in an app development project, finding a provider that can provide a great user experience is essential, and can mean the difference between a successful app and a failed one. Mobile app discovery poses an enormous challenge – one that developers are still struggling to overcome – but it’s really only half the battle. If a provider can build an app that will not only be downloaded by the user, but kept on the device, they’re cultivating a loyal audience that is more likely to pay attention to future apps that they deliver.

Let’s take one of my favorite iPad apps, Flipboard, the intuitive social aggregation app that was named one of Time’s “50 Best Inventions of 2010,” and is so popular that some estimates indicate that it’s installed on one out of every 10 iPads. But why? What makes the app so special in the first place? User experience. A focus on the things that are essential to the user, including:

1) A simple concept that meets a real desire for a more personalized social media experience

2) An easy-to-use interface that makes collecting and organizing social updates painless and intuitive

3) A visually attractive design

By adhering to only the components that they knew would provide value to the user, Flipboard ensured that their app was not just downloaded, but enjoyed a shelf life on users’ devices far beyond that of the typical app.

The Flipboard example presents a perfect case study of how — by engaging a provider that focuses on user experience above all else — companies can make their apps more essential to their customers.

Create a Customer Feedback Loop – Even When Customers Aren’t Available Yet

The mobile app development process can be a long one, and it can be made longer by waiting until late in the game – when the app has already been built – to bring customer feedback into the process. This is why it’s essential for Nearshore providers to incorporate user feedback as early in the development process as possible, even if the app isn’t available to the marketplace yet.

The customer feedback loop can happen even before coding begins, at the ideation stage of the process. The development team should brainstorm not just amongst themselves, but should bring in as many outside perspectives as possible, including friends, relatives, colleagues, etc. In the absence of actual customers (which is likely the case, since you don’t have a working app yet), this can function as the next best thing in determining what features are going to resonate with the client’s core audience.

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If it’s possible, the provider can even create a “focus group” of app testers out of the same friends/relatives/colleagues and observe how they use your app. It can be challenging, but getting all the users in the same room can be an invaluable way to secure the critical input they need before investing time and resources on developing features that could ultimately be ignored by users.

In the next installment of this post, I’ll take a look at another key to ensuring a great mobile app user experience – making the creative and development components a unified process.



Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.

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