What Makes a Good Mobile Application?

As a premier mobile development firm, Vensi wants to create not just good, but great, mobile applications. To do that, we have found there are a few key considerations that we emphasize in every application we develop. We will affectionately refer to them as the Seven Principles of Great Mobile Applications.

Principle #1: Simplicity

Users are often multi-tasking when working on a mobile device. They may be waiting in line at the DMV. They may be up to their knees in snow while trying to find directions to that great Thai restaurant somewhere in the University District. Whatever the distraction, they don’t have the time and patience for applications that are cumbersome. They want simple, intuitive mobile applications that will get them what they need in as few keystrokes as possible.

Principle #2: Clarity

While on the subject of simplicity, the intent of a mobile application should be clear and concise. Scope-creep can easily occur in brainstorming a new idea, but applications that try to do too much usually do nothing well.

Principle #3: Efficiency

Mobile applications should improve the life of the user. They should make a user more productive, save them time or effort, or simply make them happy. The people who currently use mobile devices as more than phones are savvy – they won’t tolerate having their time or their money wasted.

Principle #4: Platform

Great applications fully utilize the available hardware. Whether the mobile device is a Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or iPad, the application should make the most of what the tool has to offer. For example, if the device has a keyboard, then typing in bits of data is accepted and expected by the user. If the device has a touch screen, then clickable icons should be thoughtfully designed. In addition, the limitations of the device should be acknowledged in that applications shouldn’t be overly burdensome.

Principle #5: Help

Help sections don’t seem hip, but they really are important for the user to feel supported, especially if the application has a cost. Basic assistance should be embedded in the application, and links to web pages with more detailed instructions, guidance, and troubleshooting should be considered.

Principle #6: Consistency

If the mobile application is a subset of an Internet application, the look and feel should be consistent. Users already have a familiarity with the Internet version, and they expect mobile applications to behave in the same ways and look the same from a design perspective, all the way down to the font. If the application is stand-alone, it should be consistent within itself and behave in a way the user anticipates based on other, similar technologies.

Principle #7: Style

Perhaps most important principle of all is the elegance factor. Appearance matters in mobile computing, and an application should most definitely look, feel, and be thoughtfully and creatively designed.

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