Developing a web app for mobiles is a necessary experience for most industries, but it’s not a simple or equal process. Depending on the target industry, the service or business which represents them, and what the app wants to achieve, creating an app can fall anywhere in the range from streamlined to overwhelmingly complicated. Failure of proper implementation can drive users away, frustrate the experience, and cause lost profits. For the best results, businesses need to fully engage the challenges of their industry, cater to careful design, and understand the evolving app and mobile environment.
The Limitations of Datacentric Systems
Owing to limitations around touch control, mobile apps which manage heavy amounts of data and require detailed input are at a disadvantage. Practically every data-centric app developed has a basis on computers and laptops, using larger screens as well as mouse and keyboard controls. Without this functionality, mobile users have to navigate through non-tactile feedback, which is slower and more prone to user error.
For these work uses, some solutions have been found through new folding phones like the Galaxy Fold series. These open like books, essentially doubling screen size which mitigates the view space issue. Such phones also offer improved multitasking support, which is advantageous when working from one app to another, or when comparing data sets.
Since folding screens still rely on touch controls, however, they’re still bound by limitations of fast and accurate input. Even though the virtual keyboard can be larger, two thumbs will never be as fast or accurate as using every finger with tactile feedback. With these limitations, even the most advanced modern phones with the best designed apps will have issues with usability if the app involved complicated data manipulation.
Future solutions to this problem don’t have any simple solutions, with the best approach being the adoption of mobile docking systems or wireless mice and keyboards. Though this would complicate the idea of these apps being truly mobile, it could also be the only way to make them close to their desktop and laptop counterparts in terms of efficiency.
The other side of this equation comes from improving standards in UI and UX design. While, in the 2020s, most modern apps already hold these features in high regard, many industries are still using legacy systems that haven’t been updated in years. These can rely on pre-HTML 5 programs, rendering them less suitable for operation on modern mobiles. Updating these systems to modern design standards is a must, but as anyone who uses industry-wide POS or database systems can tell you, many businesses are unwilling to take the next step.
Capitalizing on Simple Needs
Acting as a complete opposite are those industries which, through chance, are far better suited to their new homes as mobile apps. These are those which require only simple inputs, which can match the potential of desktop counterparts and even exceed them through the added mobility that smartphones provide.
Some of the strongest examples of an industry well-suited to mobile apps are found in online casino software providers. These developers like IGT, Playtech, and Microgaming develop software whose input is simple by its nature, so it requires little work to translate into the mobile space. Using modern standards in HTML 5, this industry has provided more than 10,000 games, each of which uses little data and processing power. Some of these developers even got a start in the offline space, meaning expertise in development that predates the internet.
When looking at these fortunate industries, developing the right apps leaves more room for freedom and experimentation. While this can lead some developers down dead ends, it eventually results in a place where a competitive market drives design to the most efficient layouts and practices. These designs are then used as inspiration for the greater app design environment, as an ideal to strive towards but never fully reach.
While there are strict lessons and ideas that every app designer must pay attention to for the best user experience, the simple fact is that, in a lot of ways, development is based on luck. Some industries are less suited to mobile apps, and while these can be somewhat streamlined, the limitations of mobiles will always be a thorn in their sides. As long as they stay updated, however, and learn from the lessons set by others, they stand a far better chance of creating systems that maximise their potential.