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Welcome to our user experience series. In this recap from the Syclo Blog series, we’ll be discussing 6 key steps you’ll need to take to make sure your mobile solutions are easy to learn, effective to use and as fun as the best consumer apps out there. Why should you care? Read this post.

The first thing to know about mobile user experience is that it goes beyond the mobile application itself. There are actually four layers that influence how your mobile app looks, feels and behaves in the hands of your users:

1) Hardware (mobile devices)

2) Operating system

3) Application

4) Back-end data integration

Creating a great user experience requires a deep understanding of how each layer impacts the end user and finding the balance of solution attributes that maximizes the overall usability.

STEP 1: CHOOSE THE RIGHT DEVICES

Which devices you choose to use or support is one of the most important decisions you can make in your design process. It dictates which mobile operating systems you’ll need to develop for, what form factors are available to you, what peripherals you can use, and a host of other solution parameters.

For line-of-business apps that you deploy to corporate-owned devices, you have the ultimate say in which models will be used and can get rather scientific in evaluating your options. Your process should review 1) choosing device characteristics that matter to your users, 2) assigning a relative weight to each such criterion, and 3) grading each device along these criteria to arrive at the overall usability score for each model. In the end, your choice will be a result of many compromises between screen size and portability, price and feature content, and many other competing factors. The important thing is that the mobile device be a close fit for your users’ work environment, the amount of travel they do and the tasks they have to perform every day.

In some situations, this may mean selecting more than one device for different parts of the workflow. For example, several SAP field service customers use their iPhone devices to review and accept work assignments while on the go, but then bring larger tablet computers to the job site for advanced diagnostics and to capture problem resolution details.

For many other applications, like those that you want to install onto your employees’ devices, your choice will be limited to whether or not you want to support a particular operating system. The top three platforms on the market today (Android, iOS and RIM) collectively account for about 80% of your users, but there is massive variability in operating system versions, form factors and feature sets within this pool. If you are designing apps that you hope your employees will use on their own hardware, your development toolset should be able to effectively handle these differences.

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