Who owns the software that you develop? By the definition of the word “own,” it would be you, right? You create it, you distribute it, you own it.
Seems logical, but this simple question is turned on its side when it comes to software that has been developed for the web or as a mobile application. When developing for the web, even though you retain ownership of the intellectual property, the page or service is available publicly – so it becomes an asset of the web. This, however, is not the case for mobile apps. When someone actively makes the very personal decision to download an app – to give it precious space on his or her mobile device – that user most definitely is the owner of that app. Of course you will keep the intellectual property of the app’s code, but the app itself doesn’t belong to you anymore – it belongs to the user.
And as owner, the user is also the decision maker regarding whether to use it or just simply delete it. Unlike a webpage where a user may return after days, weeks, or months, odds are slim that a smartphone user will re-download an app that he or she rejected, so it is imperative that an app grab – and retain – the user’s attention the first time around.
The smartphone home screen has become the “most expensive real estate” in our personal digital lives. A good example of this is when Apple launched the newsstand app and prevented users from deleting or even hiding it inside a folder. This was so annoying to consumers that one user found a bug in the OS that could be exploited if a user was fast enough to tuck the app inside a folder immediately after creating it.
It is safe to say that when developing a mobile app, a team must have a product mindset and therefore it should revisit its software development process. Developers typically look at successful projects as being delivered with quality, on schedule and on budget. When developing mobile apps, this is not enough to be successful. If you think of apps as products that need to add value to their target users, while simultaneously delivering a great user experience, there’s so much more on which to focus your attention. The only way to do this is to foster a “product perspective” within the development team. Ci&T, as an agile end-to-end software development shop, created a visual tool to fill in this gap.
Agile software development is great at fostering constant communication between business stakeholders and the development team. In the Scrum framework, it is common that at least the Scrum Master – or team leader – speaks with the Product Owner (the person on the client side who represents the business vision) on a daily basis. Developers are constantly encouraged to engage with business representatives to learn about the details of the features – or what we call stories – to be developed. While this collaborative communication greatly promotes focus and keeps the pace of productivity (blocks are identified and removed quickly), it usually ignores the bigger picture by breaking the product in small chunks of functionality that will be developed independently by different people. It’s not uncommon for some developers to end up working within a very limited part of the product and to not have a sense of the whole product and business objectives. An important question then stands out: if they don’t see the whole picture, how can they effectively contribute to the overall user experience?
In my next post, I will discuss how all members of a mobile development team can work together, using a development process that allows every team member to view of the entire project and remain focused on business goals and success.