Discover PerformanceHP Software's community for IT leaders // October 2012
3 steps to going ‘mobile first’
Applying traditional processes to mobile development won’t work. Here’s how to change your organization to ensure that your mobile initiatives succeed.
Skyrocketing mobile adoption drives more and more organizations to adopt a “mobile first” strategy: Design and develop for mobile first, then think about the desktop version later (if ever). It’s a smart response to a dramatic technology shift, but a disaster if mishandled. Under pressure to deliver mobile apps faster than the competition, developers try to push their standard processes to move faster. That hurts quality, and the app fails—quite publicly in the case of customer-facing applications, with failure forever preserved in scathing reviews.
Poor quality has always been the best way to damage your business; in a mobile world, it’s especially true. Users can try apps for low or no cost, making it easy for them to delete the ones that don’t immediately deliver. So how do you get it right? If your organization is sold on a “mobile first” philosophy, here are the steps to making that transformation.
Step 1: Know what you’re signing up for
If you decide that mobile development will get the lion’s share of your attention and budget, you’ve just gone Agile. Traditional development processes are geared toward big, infrequent releases. But you could be releasing updates to your mobile app as frequently as every week. Traditional processes at a traditional pace are too slow. But try pushing those non-iterative processes faster, and you’ll lose quality.
Without an iterative development process, you can’t keep up with a mobile world. Instead, you have to embed Agile methods to accelerate the velocity of app development without compromising quality—so take that shift in methodology seriously.
Step 2: Make technical decisions about app architecture
Once you’ve decided to go mobile-first, you have to figure what that means in practical terms. Start with these questions:
- Who are my users? Are you developing for an internal or external user base? What functionality do they need, and what can be stripped away? These answers lead you to the next question.
- What type of app will you make? A mobile web page? A native app for each major platform? A hybrid app that runs natively but deploys HTML5 web content inside? All of these options come with tradeoffs, some of which will have major implications on the time you spend developing and testing.
If you decide to develop for a diverse set of devices, you’ll need to prioritize those platforms and be ready to validate your strategy.
Step 3: Code fast, test faster
In the rush to get to market, application testing is usually the first corner cut. Organizations that do test their mobile apps before release tend to perform mostly manual testing. That’s problematic enough for traditional apps, but it’s catastrophic for mobile apps. To really do it right, you must test on all major devices and platforms, on all major carriers. And those devices, platforms and carriers have to be the real thing, not a simulation. That kind of manual testing is such an impossible task that it leaves some organizations questioning the value of testing at all.
The solution is to embrace automation. Automating testing early in the application lifecycle—and continuing to use automation to validate that the app works—is the only way to avoid the inconsistency, imprecision and expense that come with manual testing. You need to automate testing on multiple devices and carriers, and ensure that developers are ready to respond to feedback as soon as they get it. Otherwise, testing will forever remain a bottleneck.
To be successful in a mobile-driven world—where the user base is enormous, diverse and vocal—a “mobile first” strategy is the only answer. It’s a big move that courts disaster, but a solid strategy can get you past the pitfalls.
For more on making the transformation to a mobile strategy, visit www.hp.com/go/mobile.
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