How do organizations build custom apps their consumers or employees love? Love, of course, is a complicated concept. Successful businesses find ways to connect to the mix of emotions that make up the concept of love. And when it comes to mobile development, building apps that users love is essential in business survival.
We see the shift to mobile all around us. “Mobile is an increasingly important part of any company’s marketing strategy, and developers think mobile first when they design new Internet applications.” writes Roslyn Layton in Forbes. And indeed, the numbers associated with this shift are staggering. “In 2015 the app economy, the revenue driven through mobile apps and related activities, is expected to reach as high as $100 billion.” The driving forces for this shift are interesting, but for companies experiencing the brunt of the new app economy, this change can be scary.
Getting mobile development wrong can be expensive, frustrating, and damaging to a business. Building a successful app is about much more than good code on the right platform — it’s about building something users love. Forrester’s Mike Gualtieri outlined some helpful concepts organizations can use to build mobile apps in his report “Design Mobile Apps From The Outside In.” Gualtieri calls out three characteristics of lovable mobile apps, each with a question developers need to answer:
- Useful: Can users achieve their goals?
- Usable: How easily can they achieve their goals?
- Desirable: Does the experience engender positive emotions?
The most effective way to answer these questions before diving in too deep is through prototyping. Think of prototyping as the online dating of app development. Online dating lets people connect with the help of key information, but without the blind commitment of an arranged marriage. Finding true love (of mobile apps) starts with good prototyping.
Good prototyping requires a solid methodology. In March of 2014, David Aycan and Paolo Lorenzoni published a helpful article in the Harvard Business Review about their methodology called “Live Prototyping.” The idea is to develop products and experiences by pulling from the swiftness of Rapid Prototyping and the “realness” of Piloting. Live Prototyping is a sensible approach for developing any business concept, but is particularly useful when developing mobile apps.
A key benefit to Live Prototyping for developing mobile apps is that it’s a great way to get qualitative and quantitative feedback. “Consistently using live prototyping as part of a product-development process helps negate risks associated with the messiness and unpredictability of the market.” Love can be messy and unpredictable, but that’s what makes it special. Organizations need to make prototyping a central part of their development process to increase their chances of building an app their users love.