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Design Considerations When Building Cross Platform Mobile Applications

In this day and age of growing technology options, consumers continue to find new ways to use the technology they have access to. It all began years ago when people were able to use a laptop, then extended with the ability to have a “wired” wireless connection, and even further with the ability to use a wireless connection via a wireless device. Consumers are using mobile devices to do simple things like communication (phone calls, emails, text messages, etc.) and complex actions like presenting or creating collateral. Enter the role of companies like SuperConnect to create applications to further expand the abilities of mobile computing to enable each and every person in the enterprise to be more effective in all that they do each day. As we start build out our suite of applications, we continue to run into areas where we need to consider areas of design complexity in our day-to-day development. Over the coming weeks in this blog, I will start to address some of these areas of complexity we have had to face while coming up with our first few products.

Recently I spoke in front of a mobile user group on the topic of “Design Considerations When Building Cross Platform Mobile Apps.” As I prepared for this discussion, I dug deep into my experiences in mobility as well as software development to think of as many areas as I could where we could have designed our solution more effectively to create a superior product. There were a few topics that really bubbled to the top as I laid out how to describe the approach that our team at SuperConnect has begun to develop while we build superior enterprise products.

First, when development shops start to think about design, generally it is tied with the Visual Design and User Experience, as that is where a “designer” is typically involved. While this is a critical area for every product, it is not the only type of design. With the first in this series of posts, I will address what design means from a mobile product development perspective and focus on a few mistakes companies and product owners tend to make.

Next is the very overused view of Application Architecture as a component of design. In reality, App Arch is really a different form of design that is typically driven by technologists and the issues facing the development team as they proceed into the development lifecycle.  My own view is that the Application Architecture tends to hinge on the ideas of the Visual Design where in many cases there should a balance on both sides. In the second post, I will outline several areas where our product team has had to balance the extremes of Application Architecture (Design) with the Visual Design as we built out our first product, Connections.

The third component of design consideration while building a mobile application is around the data and how data is transferred to and from the mobile devices. When designing a data strategy for mobile devices, there are several key considerations that result from the variety of devices out there. In my third installment, I will look at a few of the major issues that caused us to make design changes at the eleventh hour in order to ensure that Connections is the best product we can provide.

Last and probably most important is the design of a security strategy that will provide for protected data and user access to sensitive corporate systems. Because our applications will be integrated with critical corporate infrastructure and systems, it is imperative for our technology team to design a security plan that is not only compatible with, but also integrates nicely with the security policies defined by most large corporations. In the final entry of this series, I will dive into some of the major security issues we had to address while we built our solution to integrate with one of the largest healthcare companies in North America.

Overall, when designing for mobile applications many of the same considerations must be made as when designing applications for the desktop computer or the web, but in the mobile space, while it may seem to be a smaller scale, that cannot be further from the truth.  The mobile space brings many new dimensions to design that I will address in this series of posts.  Stay tuned!

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