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Is Multiplatform The Future Of Mobile Development?

September 15th, 2018

Based on a report contributed by MobiDev at CeBIT 2014.

Where Can Multiplatform Development Be Applied?

If you are sure about devices and operating systems, which are used by your target audience, you don’t have to encompass everyone. But if your business requires a huge audience with many device types, you should think how it will influence your business. Such apps may include:

– promotional apps – when a brand is integrated in the content of a useful or interesting app;

– entertainment apps – include all media, apps for presenting products and services, m-commerce;

– business apps for internal use – when a business starts considering mobile technologies as business advantages and an important direction for investments.

In the first two cases, the main advantage of multiplatform development is encompassing a bigger audience with lower costs. In the third case, it is the opportunity to create an app for every employee, without considering personal preferences in devices.

Here we can say that the BYOD trend (Bring Your Own Device) has reached the critical mass among employees. New and non-standard devices, which are brought by employees, may be incompatible with the app you are planning to create. Technologies develop faster than standards. Companies that apply mobile technologies need to find the optimal balance between preferences of employees and costs for app development, and they need to provide access to them.

Making employees mobile is just a part of the whole picture. The line between work and home environments gets blurred. This means that employees who work with information, expect that their enterprises will rid of the standard way of building IT. This means work in preferred OS and apps, as well as personalization of work technologies. In order to use the advantages of mobile technologies, it’s quite logical to build flexible, employee-oriented solutions.

Fragmentation Of The Mobile Market

There are many mobile platforms on the market, but only three obvious leaders. According to worldwide marketshare stats (Q4 2013), the leader on the smartphone market is Android (69%); the second place belongs to iOS (19%); the third place belongs to Windows – 10%, BlackBerry has about 2%.

As for tablets, the situation is different. A part of Android’s share (62%) is taken by iOS (33%). Windows and BlackBerry have 5% and 0,2% respectively. And of course, the number of devices and operating systems will grow.

What Else Do You Lose Developing For One Platform?

If we consider the big growth of Android, the risks of development for one platform are obvious. You don’t know which platform will succeed. What if tomorrow there won’t be three leaders? What if they will be replaced? Does it mean you have to build another app, or is there another solution?

Consider the fact that app development is not cheap, and the app will be used for several years. You will need to understand what to do, if the market or preferences of employees change.

Undoubtedly, the future of mobile development concerns multiplatform support. These technologies are getting more important, and there are such HTML/JS solutions as RAD-js, which help make cross-platform apps with native responsiveness.

Many clients and developers still use native SDK to build apps. It’s natural. But it’s the reason why there is poor diversity in mobile apps. They are all similar, because SDKs are limited. An app that stands out, costs a lot, and doesn’t always pay for itself.

Why Is It Hard To Create Uniqueness With Native SDK?

Each OS has an SDK. It allows to create standard interfaces relatively easy. And you should consider two factors while working with native SDK:

– Native SDK cannot do everything;

– Uniqueness takes time and efforts.

If your app is okay with that, this SDK is enough. But if you want something non-standard, what happens next?

– either developer tries to persuade you to stick to standards (as a rule, it’s explained with interaction patterns);

– or you insist on making a unique interface and have to pay great amounts of money, because non-standard elements take lots of extra efforts.

But the solutions to these problems were invented long ago – in Web. Your developer only has to optimize them for mobile devices, and everything will be ready. What’s more, most of the standard native objects can be easily implemented with HTML/JS. Some elements should be implemented as native ones, to save time. Thus, HTML/JS elements enter the development environment. They divide all apps into three parts: native apps, HTML/JS apps, and hybrid apps.

Where Can HTML Be A Better Solution Than Native?

There are no native methods of implementation of such objects. In HTML it’s done with CSS. The area of response is also hexagonal, which is almost impossible for native SDK.

It’s a simple solution that allows to create unique products.

Text formatting is a very hard task for native development, but it’s very simple and natural for HTML. Ask your native developers, how much time it will take to create a text which wraps an image, with elements in bold and italic. Then ask your Web developers the same thing. You’ll be surprised by the difference.

Things are even more interesting with non-standard UI patterns.

The side menu from Android is very frequent for iOS apps, but it’s not included in the SDK. Same goes for Windows Phone Tiles, which are absent in Android and iOS. These elements are hard to create, both in native and multiplatform development, but if you create them one, you will be able to use them on any platform, including Web.

There are many visual effects that are very expensive and hard to create from scratch natively. But if you use ready JS libraries, lots of time and money can be saved.

Why ‘Hybrid Apps Often Fail’ Is A Statement Of The Past

Of course, HTML/JS development cannot solve every problem. Because of use of JavaScript, it can’t be used to create apps with complex mathematical calculations or analytics on the client side. But there’s no better solution than HTML/JS, when you need to create something non-standard, when the visual part is more important than business logic (data calculation and analysis).

But if a part of business logic is crucial, data processing can be moved to the server side or native chunk. Thus we get a hybrid app, designed with HTML/JS.

‘How will it help me?’ – you’d ask.

If we properly analyze the requirements of the future app and divide it into elements, we’ll point out the most crucial for the success of the product. We’ll define the goals of the product, the business purposes of the product, target audience and interaction patterns. Then it will be possible to effectively distribute the implementation, using the advantages of HTML/JS and native SDK. The more elements are written with HTML/JS, the more multiplatform capabilities are there in the app.

In other words, all the examples of failed apps, often provided by developers, are caused by bad understanding of strengths and weaknesses of different programming approaches. For example, when HTML apps received unnatural mathematical logic; or when was applied the logic, which is natural for desktop web with its powerful hardware.

A good example is an app for Facebook, which moved to native code because of the slow speed of the HTML app, and which was properly remade by SENCHA. It became a fully responsive HTML-app. Unfortunately, on weak devices and on Android version 2.2 it lags.

The future of mobile development concerns multiplatform solutions – fast, attractive and highly responsive. One of these solutions is RAD-js – a toolkit for speeding up multiplatform apps. It was developed by our team, considering our experience in multiplatform development. It provides a set of development tools, which can be used either separately, or along with other HTML/JS frameworks. Thus developers can create responsive apps, which run consistently on several platforms, and thus helps software owners encompass as much target audience as possible. If your planned app fits in the picture described above, maybe hybrid software is the solution for you.

Choosing a Web Designer That Will Compliment Your Business

September 14th, 2018

Your website is your company’s primary sales tool in the online environment and it needs to inspire trust and professionalism as well as being pleasant for users. Achieving a professional and appropriate web presence is something that is likely only achieved by engaging a web developer. This typically means engaging a reputable design company to craft a web based solution that fits your specific needs. Before approaching potential designers, it is imperative that you clarify what it is you are seeking in a design.

Typically the first step is to establish your goals and expected outcomes. You would need to ask yourself what is the ultimate purpose of the site and what are your visitors seeking. All websites should be constructed from a user perspective and should be designed with their needs in mind.

The second step in determining your needs is to work out a rough budget for the development. Having a rough estimate on what you require and expect to spend can help with the negotiation process as well as to provide a filter by which you can gauge the various short listed companies. To create such a short list, it is often worthwhile searching Google for web designers in your local area, checking their reviews, and then contacting them for a customised quote.

The importance of references cannot be overstated when you are engaging a firm to handle your online presence. This is a critical component of your business and marketing plan and needs to be handled by a delicate professional. Most reputable development firms will be more than happy to refer you to past clients and contacting them may very well provide insight into how the web designers operate and communicate.

After the initial quote and contact it is important that you confirm the exact technical specifications lest an issue arise later that could potentially cost you money. A range of questions need to be addressed including, who is to provide the images and stock content, what long-term maintenance plans will be in place for the site if something goes wrong, is the software or CMS platform that is being used open-source or will you be required to make licensing payments. These issues should be clarified and included in any potential contract to avoid surprises later.

Finally, you have reached the point where you need to select an actual web design company from your short list. It is important to note at this point that price does not necessarily dictate quality in this arena. Often pricing can be a factor of how big the specific design agency is and what their overheads are. So do not disregard the small agencies or even independent operators. It is best to review samples of their portfolios and recent work. Every designer does things a little differently and although they may look fantastic the site may be a poor fit for your specific business. Also look for design companies that have experience in your niche and can design sites that are user driven and convert. Attempting to train a web designer on how your business and industry works can be a time consuming process and it is therefore advisable to find someone familiar with your niche.

In closing, it’s important to have a clear idea of the exact specifications you seek when searching for a web design agency. The clear communication of a concept or idea will allow the chosen designers to provide a quote and conceptual design that closely matches your business needs. Ultimately, choosing a designer is not solely about choosing the prettiest template but finding someone who you can communicate effectively with.

How Marketing Consultants Can Make the Difference In Your Web Design Project

September 13th, 2018

Web design is an integral part of a modern marketing campaign. The quality of the design and coding work done on your website is incredibly important, as a DIY website simply cannot compete with a professionally created online presence. Even if the aesthetics were equal, which is unlikely, a professionally designed and well built website will always outperform a homegrown page because of the tremendous amount of coding and back-end work that goes into doing it right.

Often, small business owners turn to web designers for help getting started, only to find that they don’t “speak the language” of web design, and this leaves them unsure of what to ask for, how to answer the web designer’s questions, and whether they’re truly getting a good deal. This is where a reliable marketing consultant comes in. By hiring a marketing consultant, business owners benefit from having an advisor and liaison who can translate the web design lingo, leverage their standing professional relationships for better pricing, and handle the day-to-day issues that arise during web development work so that you as the business owner can focus on your business, not your website.

Marketing consultants are sometimes freelancers, but they are just as often team members working for advertising agencies. If you’re working with an independent web designer and have hired an advertising agency, they will fill this role for you and handle the minutiae, bringing you in periodically for the bigger decisions. Even then, a knowledgeable marketing consultant will narrow down two or four dozen options to an easily navigable top five, for example, explain the choices at hand, and make recommendations as to a path forward.

Alternatively, small business owners sometimes hire advertising agencies or marketing consultants first, letting these companies bring in their own team members or freelancers for web design. Regardless of how the situation comes about, in addition to helping you navigate the waters of a web design project, an advertising agency and/or web consultant will bring one other major component to the table: cohesiveness.

When building a website, it’s important to understand that while web development often seems to occur in a vacuum, it truly should not. Websites are key parts in a comprehensive marketing campaign that should typically integrate Internet and traditional marketing elements. Therefore, a great website is of even more value when it is the main piece in a large puzzle rather than a separate entity that does not align with the remaining pieces. That is, if a customer has been to your brick-and-mortar shop or has seen your TV, print, Internet, or direct mail advertisements and then visits your website, the branding should be consistent across all of those platforms. The site should immediately be identifiable as part of the whole, and that only happens when your web consultant and/or your advertising agency is intimately involved in your entire website design project.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that web design projects are often bid without regard to content, which you’ll be expected to provide as the business owner. The right advertising agency or marketing consultant will have staff or freelancers who can provide solid, clean, engaging content that also addresses your needs for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) while ensuring that your branding and messaging remains cohesive across all platforms.