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Never stop striving for great mobile apps

Mobile apps are not spinoffs of their website predecessors—they need to be designed with mobile devices in mind. The formula is the right combination of form and function.

Albert McKeonOn a recent trip into Boston on what we Bay Staters call the T, the local light-rail and subway system, I noticed something peculiar about the other passengers. They didn’t have faces. Or at least ones you could see. They were buried in some handheld device or another. “Strange,” I thought, before turning to my smartphone and emailing my editor.

It’s obvious that the developed world has gone mobile, but like me, some companies are seemingly oblivious, offering not great mobile apps but ones that are really just smaller, clunky versions of websites.

As says Michael Kan, a law student interviewed for this special edition of Business Information magazine on the mobile phenomenon, “Apps shouldn’t try to do every­thing its website does.”

But there are things they need to do to satisfy this new mobile world: design apps that allow customers to con­duct business on their devices but also connect them to live agents if needed. Oh, and they should be as easy to use as a doorknob.

It’s easier said than done. Attractive apps that trigger journeys into sight -- pictures and video -- and sound -- music and podcasts -- might elicit oohs and ahs, but if they don’t allow users to quickly buy stuff or find answers to questions, they’ll get deleted fast.

In the following pages, you’ll find helpful advice on how to create a mobile app that is technically functional and eye-catching -- and is a gateway for businesses to serve customers.

The first story highlights a must-have combo for every mobile app: front-end usability and back-end program­ming. Great mobile apps need to give users what they want, but they need behind-the-scenes functionality to deliver the goods.

Mobile users chime in, and their wish lists shouldn’t surprise: straightforward, navigable applications that give them what they need.

Next, we look at an application that smells like suc­cess -- a mobile connection to the hot doughnuts of Krispy Kreme -- and how winning apps are designed specifically for small devices and not larger, desktop computers.

Lastly, businesses have to be prepared to communicate with mobile app users. That means integrating contact centers with applications, so live agents are ready to serve customers who started reaching out on another channel.

Albert McKeon
News and Site Editor,

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