For the past six months, we’ve been saying mobile apps are dead. We mean it. While you may be thinking, “But I download new apps all the time,” there is a bigger point that you may be missing about the future of application development—specifically, the way developers and early adopters have been adjusting to the mobile revolution thus far is fragmented.
Contrary to general perception, while enterprises are in fact building mobile apps today, these applications are in their relative infancy. But 2014 has been the year where the enterprise has awakened to cross-platform mobile app development. So for those enterprises that are amid adoption, you’re arriving to the mobile party at just the right moment.
It is known that developers are struggling with how to build mobile applications for an increasingly complex matrix of devices and platforms. What is not widely known is that this can be accomplished by taking a different viewpoint. Instead of looking at how an app is built, try looking at what an app needs to include and how it needs to react to its user. App requirements should drive the development approach. This approach is called Adaptive Development.
Adaptive Development encompasses the entirety of the Web, hybrid and native universes, and puts app requirements ahead of development methodology. It enables developers to create optimized experiences for every app and every screen. Developers are looking for the most efficient and future-proof strategy, and this is it.
As your enterprise determines its adaptive development approach, I have a few key pieces of advice to share.
1. Avoid application siloes. Don’t think of a mobile app, Web app and desktop app as three separate entities. They should be treated as one. While most modern developers have stopped thinking in siloes, in many enterprises a huge mobile division still exists. This siloed approach makes it difficult to integrate applications in the future and continually innovate at a competitive pace.
2. Be mobile-versed, not mobile-first. Put the user experience first. In many cases, this translates to focusing on UI or the graphical element. With applications like Instagram and WhatsApp, there’s a huge focus on mobile right now, and a lot of enterprises are being told they have to be “mobile-first.” But this is not the best approach. By not pigeonholing the enterprise and instead putting efforts toward a rich and beautiful user experience, regardless of platform, it will naturally lead to adopting for mobile.
3. Hybrid, hybrid, hybrid. Developers should push the hybrid development message to enterprise leadership instead of going straight for native development. It is more economical and functional than native development, and by building an app once for multiple operating systems with a cross-platform app builder, you can avoid having two codebases (which cuts the amount of time spent developing in half).
4. Minimize complexity. One thing to keep top of mind is the complexity of UI today, which has been brought on by the myriad of devices that modern customers use, ranging from mobile apps to smartwatches and big-screen TVs.
Like I said before, you’ve arrived to the mobile party at just the right time. Mobile application development has progressed so much that developers don’t have to develop based on device, but rather the app requirements. As a longtime veteran of the industry, I’m seeing great things come out of an adaptive development approach and can’t wait to watch this methodology evolve.