Brian Katz has some pointed advice for corporate developers - don’t let business objectives dominate your thinking when creating new mobile apps.
With the popularity of mobile devices, IT is scrambling to make them more useful by developing job-related apps specific to company needs. That’s all well and good, but Katz, who heads the mobility engineering group at Sanofi-Aventis, said too often he sees development that leaves user needs out of the equation.
“App development is like trying to get a horse out of the mud. A lot of times developers take the same approach they do for the desktop and you end up with what I call a crapplication,” Katz said at the Tablet Strategy conference earlier this week.
“If you build a crapplication they will run,” joked Katz, noting users will either simply not use the app or find another one from an app store that’s not necessarily sanctioned by IT and could add complications from a support perspective.
Apply the FUN principle
Katz said his approach with developers is to encourage them to apply the FUN principle (Focus on Users Needs). “If the app takes too long to load, users won’t use it. If there are too many screens or its hard to use, users will move on to something else.”
“There are hundreds of functions in Microsoft Word that most people never use. You don’t want to add a lot of complexity and unused functions in a mobile app, so build in just the features they’re going to use it for,” he added.
Another key element of development is security.
“Please get security involved at the beginning,” said Katz. “I’ve seen so many cases where an app is finished and then it’s not approved because some security feature was missing.”