It’s no secret that prototyping mobile applications is hard. HTML5 doesn’t really provide a great facsimile for native apps—you just don’t get the responsiveness or layout that makes you want to develop native in the first place—and a lot of tools that are great for web functional prototypes, like our much beloved Axure RP, are not necessarily ideal for prototyping native mobile applications depending on the UI complexity. We, here at ThoughtMatrix, are huge fans of Axure which is not going to change anytime soon, but we do realize its limitations for certain types of applications.
We experienced quite the extraordinary turn of events this past week, though not entirely surprising to those up on industry trends. Simply put, LinkedIn—the company who just last year espoused how HTML5 client development was still extremely relevant—released a major new update to their application and without any forewarning quietly let it slip that they have moved from a hybrid application to an all native design.
Given the current proliferation of mobile touchpoints, we are often tasked with helping clients create mobile roadmaps and strategies. Inevitably, we are asked if there is a way to build content or functionality once and deploy it on a variety of different mobile platforms. The answer, of course, is yes. In fact, there are several ways, and the benefits of doing so vary from a more streamlined development process to higher adoption rates to lower costs. However, when is the right time to use cross-platform solution? What kind of requirements lend themselves to this simpler approach? When is the cross-platform approach actually simpler than developing for native applications?
I may be a bit of a creature of habit; I tend to do about three things when I use my smartphone—email, then over to Facebook and then maybe check stocks or an ESPN app to check scores, but that sadly feels like the extent of it. Oh, I’m sure I do other things here and there that make smartphone ownership great; I use maps when I’m lost, Yelp when I’m hungry, Google Voice for texting and Evernote. Yet, rarely do I go out of the way to read news and fun content on my phone because it usually requires a lot of slow loading, phone turning, pinching and zooming.
As you’re surfing the Internet you see a fantastic article about how to make the perfect cat video. You also want to save some photos from Google Image Search and store them somewhere you can access on the go. What about recipes? Do you have a recipe box gathering dust because you search the Internet now for recipes? Where do you keep all this stuff so you can easily reference it later?
So yesterday Microsoft unveiled it’s entrant into the tablet market with the new Surface. First, if that name sounds familiar, it should. In 2007 the Redmond juggernaut released the tabletop touch computer that has primarily been used in retail, hospitality and restaurants. In case you care, they are still selling it, but changed the name to PixelSense (yeah, how about “makes no sense”).
Responsive Design May Be Awesome, But It Isn’t a Web Design Panacea.
In our first article, we discussed the amazing flexibility that responsive design offers. But this flexibility comes with a price that might negatively affect your fastest-growing audiences – mobile and tablet users. While offering a flexible layout, responsive design requires the latest browsers, more code, and large images. In short, responsive layouts can be bandwidth hogs and resource-intensive to render. This affects users on the move, where bandwidth is the scarcest, and where processors lack the raw power of their desktop predecessors.
If you did, your company would put other web initiatives on hold and scramble to launch the best mobile experience for your industry.
With mobile smartphone use growing at such an astounding pace, I’m constantly amazed that there are still so many top-tier companies that do not have a dedicated mobile website experience. I believe that this rapid growth seems to be outpacing many IT and marketing executives’ ability to digest and grasp how mobile is going to drastically affect their business growth – particularly in the consumer space.
With mobile, the year 2012 will be a unique parallel to 1996-97, when many industry titans were caught with their pants down by the speed at which web use grew, and were unable to launch a compelling website faster than their competitors.
2011 proved to be an exciting year, and we anticipate 2012 to be even better. Take a peek at the trends we’ll be watching in 2012. Happy Holidays!
Mobile Payments Accelerate
Wallet? What wallet? I have my phone.
There is no doubt the penetration of smartphones has changed the way we communicate, inform and entertain each other. Mobile devices have also changed the way we shop—helping us locate, evaluate and recommend every kind of product or services imaginable, but we still have to pull out the plastic (yeah, some still carry cash) to transact… Well, that final frontier of the commerce experience is also changing, and fast.
At a recent TechWeek Chicago event, I presented the major technology trends that are changing how existing UX design processes are viewed and the new approaches companies can employ to stay ahead of these trends. Both “Lean UX” and the rapid growth of mobile browsing have contributed to our radical approach to reinventing teams and processes to meet the challenges of today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. This new approach is born out of two ideas circulating amongst the User Experience and App Development communities that moves away from traditional design processes to a more iterative and open approach and also considers developing for mobile users first as a means to focus the design.
For more detailed information on the forces driving rapid change in the UX Design field, watch the “What’s Next for UX” webinar that illustrates new approaches and presents practical methods to help design teams stay ahead of these trends. Watch the webinar now >