The Best Way to Go Mobile: Consider Your Options

There are three ways of going mobile: responsive design, a Web app and a native app. You can also use a combination of these three types.

The importance of adaptingcomputer and smartphone your website to mobile is indisputable in 2020. Google adapted “mobile first principle” last year. However, if you have not made the transition yet or not sure if it has worked well, one important question arises: what is the best way of doing it?

Basically, there are three ways: programming your page to adapt to different screen sizes and devices (responsive design), designing a mobile website (including so-called web app) or creating your own app launched through app stores (a native app). You can have a combination of these types in one application (a hybrid app), however, this is less common.

Here I would like to share some advice on these three possibilities.

You should choose responsive design if you:

  • Have a website that does not require a lot of interaction (e.g. a news website or a blog);
  • Want to save time and effort by maintaining one website only;
  • Think that your users would scroll from top to bottom if the page contains a lot of information and are fine with longer loading times.

A mobile website is the best choice if you:

  • Have a website that is not visited by the same users very frequently or where users do not spend a lot of time (e.g. a specialized online shop or an online information service);
  • Want to offer better user experience by optimizing content and simplifying navigation;
  • Need your page to be accessible with any mobile device through a browser;
  • Do not mind maintaining two websites: the desktop and the mobile versions.

And finally, you should consider developing a native app if you:

  • Have a website where users tend to spend a lot of time (a social network or an entertainment platform);
  • Want to use extra capabilities of mobile hardware: e.g. the camera or the GPS of a device;
  • Think that you can offer users enough extra value to motivate them to download your app;
  • Do not mind the dependence on app stores;
  • Can afford higher costs in developing applications for different device types.

Currently, developing a mobile website is slowly losing its popularity. The majority of CMS and website builders come with responsive layout option as a standard. However, you will still need to make adjustment to your website to optimize it for mobile users, especially if you think (or better: have data proving) that your website is mostly visited on mobile. As for the apps, although the app market is constantly growing, the competition is growing, too. Also, if a user thinks that an app does not offer extra value to them or if they are not a heavy user of this app, they will definitely prefer not to clutter their mobile storage with it.

Let us look at some examples.

Amazon.com and Deutsche Bahn have developed a mobile page (for occasional users) and a native app (for heavy users).

The majority of websites on the internet (e.g. HubSpot) have implemented responsive design that enables readers to access the blog from any device.

McDonalds has both responsive design and a native app (used as a restaurant finder and for distributing coupons). Some fast fashion labels (e.g. Orsay) adapted the same strategy.

As you see, in most cases an app is combined with a responsive design or a mobile website. They may perform similar or different functions. The main thing to consider is how to offer the best experience for the users and how to meet their needs in interacting with your website.

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The Basics of Paper Prototyping

Paper prototyping allows early testing of a UI design for any kind of software. The simplest method is drawing a user interface or a series of “screens”.

This post is a recap of the Scrum User Group meeting on February 5, 2014, in Karlsruhe.Paper prototyping

During the workshop, the participants were shown some sample drawings and then could put the theory into practice, by developing a paper prototype for a restaurant app.

So, what is actually paper prototyping? This method allows for early testing of a user interface design for any kind of software. The simplest method of paper prototyping is drawing of a user interface or a series of “screens” the end-user will see. The clear advantage of this method is that it saves a lot of money and time in testing and trying out different designs before the actual development has taken place.

Some important things to remember whilst applying paper prototyping are:

  • It is better to have cross-departmental teams involving somebody from an IT, a designer, a usability specialist and possibly a marketing/sales specialist. Only in this way it is possible to evaluate the ideas from a 360-degree angle. As an example: often a small change in the design requires a lot of extra work for the IT that could be avoided if the prototype had been discussed by the whole of the development team from the very start.
  • The initial design should be kept simple, without much detail (e.g. the texts can be omitted first),  the main focus should be on the layout and functionality of the software.
  • Paper prototyping naturally has limitations in comparison to the testing on the devices, e.g. interactivity or performance on different screen sizes. These parameters should definitely be kept in mind as an adjustment in the design may be required later.
  • Remember that one picture often says more than a thousand words. Do not be reluctant to draw, even if you think you are not good at drawing. In essence, most  Graphic User Interface (GUS) elements can be depicted using simple geometric forms, e.g. “a trash bin” is nothing more than a cylinder with a parallel line with a dot on top of it.
  • Consider the user journey in developing your paper prototype. Does the user expect a “next” button at the top or bottom of the screen? Does he/she find a confirmation screen helpful? Though it is nice to be creative, the usability and clarity of your GUS  should be the primary goal.

All in all, paper prototyping is important in the initial stages of a software development process, and if done accurately, helps to save a lot of effort during the development stage.

 

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