Bad Apps can Stifle Mobility Efforts

If your users hate your mobile app, what does that mean about your mobile strategy? It means it doesn't have the right focus, according to Brian Katz, a developer guru who heads the mobility group for engineering at a major pharmaceutical company. (He's also a great blogger and Twitter fiend. Check out this post on how to manage BYOD.)

At the CITE conference in San Francisco Monday, Katz explained his theory on how enterprises need to avoid building "crapplications" -- aka applications that stink. If you build apps that users hate to use, Katz said, that's not much of a mobile strategy.

It sounds like basic common sense -- build apps that focus on the user needs -- but I think Katz's message is often ignored by developers of mobile apps. It seemed all too easy for him to show examples of bad apps, specifically ones with a bad user interface. Too often, this is caused by developers who want to bring a desktop application to a mobile device. It sounds good in theory, but as Katz said, users behave differently when mobile. So porting desktop functionality to a handheld can put you into the application dung pile.

Another mobile development mistake is feature creep -- where developers get excited and keep adding functionality to a mobile app, to the point where you can't find what you want quickly. Good mobile apps, Katz said, focus on what tasks users are trying to get done while mobile. If that means you go out and spend some time with users to see how they are doing things, that's a good start.

What's the conclusion if you build a bad app? Your users will find something that works in the hundreds of thousands of other apps available on iTunes or at the Google Play store, Katz noted. And they'll use apps that they like, and can use well. If your app isn't that, your mobile strategy just got deleted.

(Photo credit: CITE Conference via Flickr)

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