Design & Development Trends for Mobile Devices

Betsy Weissman
Written by Betsy Weissman
on October 29, 2010

Everyone knows how ubiquitous smart phones have become. You can’t walk down any street without seeing the majority of the people – young and old – talking, texting, or in some way connecting with their mobile device. The proliferation of phones and the demand for immediate accessibility will continue to grow, as will demand for connectivity in our daily lives. And given the personal nature of mobile devices, the design and functionality of apps must meet the ever changing and more demanding nature of user expectations even when the users themselves don’t yet know what they are demanding. Mobile apps need to always innovate and always be ‘better’ than the last version.

Looking Ahead
As great as the 200,000 plus apps are today, designers and developers should always keep an eye on how they can make life easier for the end user. Users have downloaded billions of apps from the Apple store in the few years since it opened. 150 million of the 500 million Facebook users access Facebook through their mobile devices and they are twice as active as non-mobile users. Mobile devices and the quick and clever way they provide access to information will need to be faster, more integrated, and predictive today than they were yesterday. Below are some things to keep in mind when designing and developing mobile applications:

  • Instant gratification – consumers demand instant gratification and flawless operation, and complex devices and back office processes impede this. When designing a mobile app, it needs to embrace the “one click” mentality in order meet consumer’s needs and expectations. The simpler the steps, the higher the adoption.
  • Laser-focused use and content – killer apps and products must meet the consumer’s myriad of needs; extraneous functionality and content are unwanted and a barrier to usage. Usage is key. A good app is one that users come back to everyday.
  • The simpler, the better – simple UI, easy access to what you want and to perform your daily tasks, and instantly usable.
  • The new generation of wireless networks that are still to come. With the advent of 4G, WIMAX and LTE (Long Term Evolution), we are going to see even more video going over the networks and mobile devices.
  • Privacy and security – since more and more of our personal and corporate data is now available on these mobile devices, issues of trust & privacy are at the forefront of concerns and barriers to greater adoption. Keys, Wallet, Phone – that is the mantra of many people today walking out the door. Phones are their owner’s constant companions and they are perpetually connected. Better security and more prolific MobileMe-like capabilities will allow for mobile devices to easily and simply replace the wallet. Case in point – my husband had his wallet stolen last week. If it was his cell phone instead, a security app could have wiped all the data and other than the hassle of replacing his phone, not much harm would have been done. Instead, he lost $200, had to cancel all his credit cards, order new ones, and wait a week for a new driver’s license.

As Ray Ozzie (Chief Software Architect at Microsoft) says in his October 2010 blog, Dawn of a New Day, “For each of us who can clearly envision the end-game, the opportunity is to recognize both the inevitability and value inherent in the big shift ahead, and to do what it takes to lead our customers into this new world.

In the short term, this means imagining the ‘killer apps & services’ and ‘killer devices’ that match up to a broad range of customer needs as they’ll evolve in this new era…tomorrow’s experiences & solutions are likely to differ significantly even from today’s most successful apps. Tomorrow’s experiences will be inherently transmedia & trans-device. They’ll be centered on your own social & organizational networks. For both individuals and businesses, new consumption & interaction models will change the game. It’s inevitable.”

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