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Glossary term

Mobile App Development

Quick definition

Mobile app development is the process of creating software for mobile devices.

Key takeaways

 

●    Mobile app development creates applications specifically for mobile devices.

●     Marketers can use mobile applications to manage content, share special offers, disseminate information, drive e-commerce, or make services available.

●     The average marketer can use modern tools to drag, drop, and deliver a basic app.

●     Not every business needs an app. Instead, your brand could focus on building app-like mobile web experiences.

●     The biggest mobile app development challenge is making an experience both fast and exceptional. Speed is paramount, but the experience also needs to be memorable and useful.

 ●     Today developers are investing in progressive web apps that can be used on both desktop and mobile platforms without sacrificing the excitement and interactivity that an app provides.


Haresh Kumar is an experienced B2B marketing leader who is passionate about mobile technologies. As director of strategy and product marketing for mobile and connected experiences at Adobe, Haresh is responsible for the Adobe Experience Manager Mobile solution. A long-time mobile evangelist, he’s been driving mobile innovations for over a decade.

Q: What is mobile app development?

A: Mobile app development is the creation of an application that can live on different mobile devices. The top two operating systems consumers use are the iOS platform and the Android platform. Your brand’s mobile application is a place where your marketers can manage content, share special offers, disseminate information, drive ecommerce, or make services available. A mobile app connects a consumer with your brand.

Q: Is mobile app development hard?

A: Mobile app development can actually be very easy. There was a time when only professional app developers had access to the knowledge and tools required to design a mobile app, but now, people with little to no coding expertise can create working apps. Many of the tools for creating apps are interfaces where everyday marketers can drag and drop content to create a basic app without ever accessing the back end — the more complicated programming behind a piece of software. However, for a high-quality experience, it is still wise to bring in a professional developer to take your app to the next level of user experience and functionality.

Q: How do I develop a mobile app?

A: Designing a mobile app is no different from designing an experience for any other screen. The difference is the user interface. In a desktop world, touchscreens may not exist for every user. But when you’re designing for mobile devices, the experience is only for touchscreens. Likewise, in a desktop environment, cameras and location information may not be readily available, but on a mobile device these elements are everywhere.

Those nuances aside, the general thought pattern behind the customer experience is the same:

●     First, think about your audience. Who is the end user?

●     Second, think about what you want the end user to do. What are your goals and objectives for the basic function of the app?

●     Third, think about what kind of content will be relevant to the end user.

●     Fourth, think about the physical design. How are they going to start their journey? Where will the journey end? What stops do they need to make along the way? On a mobile app, that journey should be short and user-friendly.

●     Fifth, consider the aspects that are unique to mobile devices, like screen size and connectivity. Mobile users want apps to be fast and easy to use. Visual elements should be optimized for screens that fit in the palm of your hand.

Q: What is the best way to learn mobile app development?

A: If you are a marketer without a coding background but you have an app idea, there are many courses and tutorials available. There are also tools available to help you ideate your design. For example, Adobe Creative Cloud offers pre-developed templates where marketers can customize and move elements around. These resources will give you a great place to start.

Q: What tools are used for mobile app development?

A: A tool like Adobe XD is an ideal tool for app design. You can create mood boards and test visuals and screen transitions. There's also a library of open-source designs to give you a starting point for your app idea. Additional tools — many of which are free to use online from app developers like Microsoft, Apple, and Google — make it possible to convert your designs into functioning apps.

Q: How do you optimize a mobile app?

A: There are two main areas marketers should keep in mind for mobile app optimization. The first is usability. Is your app easy and enjoyable to use? The second is the app content. Is the content you offer tailored to the user? Is its cross-platform content consistent?

Adobe Experience Cloud has several products to help marketers optimize and personalize the app experience, including Adobe Target and Adobe Experience Manager.

Q: Does every business need to have a mobile app?

A: There was a time when the answer to this question was yes. But that’s not true anymore. Not everyone needs to have an app. The top apps users download today are content portals like YouTube or Netflix, or email hubs. A mobile app may not be the right answer for your brand, but an app-like experience for a mobile user is still extremely important.

An app-like experience means that customers are able to have a fast, native mobile journey. If they are consuming your content on a mobile device, content appears quickly with every touch. An app-like web experience also taps into typical mobile app components like location, so app functions are context aware.

There are new technologies available to help marketers deliver app-like experiences on their websites. Progressive web applications are one example. For this type of interface, there is no app download required. Instead, users access the content from their favorite browser on their mobile device. The progressive web app helps marketers deliver the right content for that mobile device in the right form to make it feel like app features. The same technique can be applied to e-commerce stores with retail sites as well. Marketers can use Adobe Experience Manager to create web properties and then convert them into a progressive web app for easy mobile consumption.

If you are unsure if developing an app is right for your brand, your most important questions should be, “Will my target consumer download the app? Will end users go to the app store and download it? And once they do, will you be able to devote the time and resources necessary to keep your app updated for the latest operating systems and relevant content?

Q: What are the benefits of mobile apps?

A: Global audiences use mobile devices more than desktops. There are more mobile phones out there than there are computers, and over 50% of global web traffic comes through mobile. Most web searches are coming from mobile devices. From a marketing perspective, investing in mobile app development and delivering app-like web experiences enhances the customer journey and increases conversion.

Q: What are the challenges of mobile app development?

A: Marketers expect mobile customers to be using their mobile devices in transitional moments. They could be looking at their phone while commuting, during a commercial break, or waiting in line for a movie. In those moments, consumers are looking for information, and they want it fast.

The biggest challenge of mobile app development is making an experience both fast and exceptional. Speed is paramount, but the experience also needs to be memorable and useful.

Q: How will mobile app development evolve in the future?

A: There was a time where the industry tagline was, “There’s an app for that.” But marketers and mobile app developers quickly realized that it was too difficult and expensive to keep experiences consistent and connected with countless apps from startups flooding the market.

Now, development teams are investing in a multiplatform approach, creating an experience that can be used on desktop and mobile without sacrificing the excitement and interactivity that an app provides. That’s where progressive web apps come into play. These apps work beautifully on both web and mobile platforms and are more cost-effective.

Mobile app developers will continue to innovate to make connectivity faster and applications richer. As 5G becomes the standard, users will be able to connect mobile devices to the internet 10 times faster than before. That change means access to real-time content. At 5G speeds, heavy data applications will become more common. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will become much more present and tap into the mobile market.

In a few years, 6G speeds will enable developers to do even more, and we will also see faster and smaller devices.

Adobe can help

Put this knowledge into action with Adobe Experience Cloud.