How to Design a Mobile Version of Your Software

by | Feb 25, 2019

Every company is unique but all companies offer customers a service. Whether your company sells products or services, there is a service element to your business. And in today’s digital world, oftentimes there is software linked to that service.

What do we mean by software? Simply, software is defined as the programs and operating information used by a computer. In regard to businesses, software can include any digital service a company provides to users. Examples are anything from online shopping to paying bills to mapping locations to communication, etc. Many companies have extensive and extremely useful software that can be accessed via websites, both on desktop and mobile. But in a world where more and more people are using mobile apps instead of mobile websites, creating a mobile app version of your business’s software can be a huge boon. There are many ways that mobile apps can play an integral role in your company’s marketing strategy, but beyond that, they can also bring your main service into the pockets of all your customers.

 

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Building a mobile app version of your software product

For many non-technical people, the idea of mobile apps seems like a serious and expensive undertaking, only accessible by the multinational corporations and the tech startups of the world. However, recent tools and automation services have significantly reduced the price of mobile app development, offering more accessible solutions to small-medium size businesses.

To build a mobile version of your software, the first step is to identify the goal of your mobile app. If you have a desktop or web-based software, you’ll want to think about which features you’d want to prioritize and offer your users on-the-go. What is the goal of your mobile app? What do your users need to be able to do when they aren’t at their computer? These are important questions to answer as part of this prioritization exercise.   

Once you have determined the goal, you can commence the design and development phase. There are many different methods to building an app. If you have the  technical skills, you can do it yourself, but most people aren’t fluent enough in coding to be able to do this programming. There are several different ways you can build an app without coding, including everything from hiring freelancers, talking with large development agencies, or using no-code app creation software.

There are many great benefits to mobile apps: increased visibility, customer engagement and loyalty, security, etc. But consider how your software would be useful to someone in mobile form. The intent of native mobile versions of software is to enhance the customer experience and give users the ability to perform tasks anytime, anywhere. We offer a number of examples of companies that have created mobile versions of their software below, for example.

 

How to prioritize features of your software for mobile use

The features people look for in a native mobile app vary based on what kind of app they’ve downloaded. After all, gaming, travel, and education apps all have very different goals. However, while there are no prescribed features you should prioritize in your app, you can find the answer to this question by taking a few simple steps.

First, ask your users questions. Oftentimes your dedicated users are more than happy to answer a few questions for you about how they use the software, why it’s beneficial to them, and how you could make it better. People are even more likely to help you with general research if they are aware they might get benefitted from it (aka, a mobile version of the software). Research questions can be conducted in several different ways, such as online surveys or more formally conducted focus groups. Gathering data is an important part of the research and development stages of building an app so make sure you make the most of it. For example, knowing whether your users would like in-app messaging or push notifications can make or break people’s opinions about whether they want to use an app or not.

Another way to prioritize the features of your app is to conduct competitive research, or competitive analysis. Competitive research is the process of collecting and reviewing research gathered from rival companies. Do your rival companies have an app for their software? Consider how their app functions, what features they include, and whether their users like or dislike the app. And if your competition doesn’t have an app, just look at their desktop software compared to yours. Consider what makes your software different from theirs and what makes people come to you. This is in a sense your competitive advantage and should be included in your app in order to continue to differentiate yourself from your rivals. Competitive research varies greatly between companies but the overall process is the same and is extremely helpful for understanding what companies should prioritize in their business.

 

Examples:

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Banking App: U by BB&T

Online banking has come a long way in the past decade. When smartphones became the dominant mobile phones, mobile app banking quickly followed. With BB&T, you can perform almost any action on their desktop and mobile websites, from transferring money to managing your retirement or investing to paying bills.  U by BB&T, the bank’s mobile app, makes on-the-go banking even easier.

U by BB&T allows you to access all of your BB&T accounts in a more safe and secure manner than by using the mobile website. Through the app you can perform the easy, daily banking chores that might need to be done. You can reset your password or security questions, pay bills, transfer money between accounts, temporarily disable debit cards, and monitor monthly budgets. Even better, you can digitally deposit checks, saving you the trouble  of having to physically go to the bank. The app does limit what financial actions a user can do on-the-go, so U by BB&T won’t replace all banking activities. However, the app’s services were strategically designed to allow users to deal with their daily finances in a quick and efficient way.

App in iTunes StoreAndroid Store

 

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News Reporting App: BBC News

BBC is one of the most well-respected public, news reporting organizations in the world. To make it easier for dedicated readers to keep up with world news, BBC created the BBC News app. This app is specifically designed just for the news section of the website. While you get more services and information—about the weather, sports, travel—on BBC’s website , the BBC News app is targeted and personalized for timely and breaking news.

When first entering the BBC News app, users are shown a scrolling feed of the top news stories around the world. On the menu bar at the top, users can view  categories like “popular” and “video” and can also search for news based on topic or geographic region. If you live in the UK, the app also has a LIVE function which allows users to watch live news directly from the app. The best feature, in my opinion, is the “My News” feature. This allows users to create a personal feed of news based on the topics they find most interesting: world topics, business, the arts, and beyond. This allows users  to get the news that matters to them, a feature that isn’t even available on the BBC website.

App in iTunes StoreAndroid Store

 

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Utilities App: Pepco Self-Service

Pepco is the public utilities company that provides electric power to Washington, D.C. and the surrounding areas. Through your account on the Pepco website, you can do quite a lot of things. Paying bills, selecting billing options, monitoring energy usage, and understanding rates and tariffs are tasks that are easy to complete . In addition you can manage your services, have a personalized wallet, get alerts and notifications, and learn all about energy usage and energy saving tips. While Pepco did venture into the app world fairly early on in 2011, the Pepco app is a pared down version of the website.

In the Pepco app, users can easily report energy outages and get status updates. This is a great feature because while you can do this on the website, if your power  is out you might not be able to access the website. Therefore, having a mobile app where you can do this is a great boon. The Pepco app also allows you to pay bills remotely  and control your thermostat if you are part of Energy Wise Rewards Program. While the app does offer fewer tools and services than Pepco’s website , its three main offerings are the most important for busy users who may not be at their desktop computer, improving the experience of managing  everyday utilities.

App in iTunes Store / Android Store

 

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Travel App: Airbnb

Airbnb has taken the travel world by storm by connecting travelers to hosts willing to rent their spaces, pretty much everywhere in the world. Airbnb is also known for its  incredibly functional and well-designed mobile app, a benchmark many people in the mobile app realm look up to.

The Airbnb app is designed for the people who use it: travelers who are always on the move and busy hosts. You can access the app as a traveler, allowing you to search for properties, book listings, and communicate with your host. As a host, you can get acquainted with guests, reverse reservations, update your calendar, and access a host-only mobile group for discussion and advice from other hosts around the world. With the app you can do almost all the same actions as on the website,the main reason people love this app. However, there are a few more less common services that you can only do through the website. The best example of this getting a refund. If a host cancels a reservation at the last minute, you can apply for a refund on your account, but do to this you much log in to your account from a computer, not your phone. To modify your reservation you also have to use the website, as this action isn’t supported by the app. However, the general functionality of the app is great and with most of the same services as the website itself, it’s a favorite in the Apple and Android app stores. Given that it is a travel app, it makes sense that they’ve chosen to incorporate the majority of their features in the mobile experience.

Apps in iTunes StoreAndroid Store

 

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Entertainment App: Amazon Prime Video

Amazon is a favorite for many people, especially its online retail division. But Amazon Prime Video is slowly becoming more and more popular and catching up to Netflix and Hulu. Amazon Prime Video has its own app that’s supported on both Apple and Android smartphones.

Functionally, the Prime Video app is fairly similar to the Amazon Prime Video website. Once logged into your account, you are greeted with the home page with your watch lists and recommended movies and TV shows. The menu at the top includes divisions like Originals, TV, Movies, etc. and a search bar, just like the website. The app is designed in a very streamlined and functional way, making it easy to browse, access watchlists & downloads, and adjust your settings. However, because streaming video requires a strong data or Wifi connection, the mobile app may not work as seamlessly as its desktop counterpart. But the app also allows you to watch videos horizontally, adding to the comfort and convenience of the app. There are still some features that are missing such as seeing the time at the top of screen while watching, but overall, the app is highly rated and functions almost as effortlessly as the website, giving you video-streaming as your fingertips.

App in iTunes StoreAndroid Store

 

Conclusion

Mobile apps can be designed to serve almost any purpose. Though the most popular apps to date are gaming, messaging, and social media apps, mobile versions of software are gaining more and more attention as they provide users with value and services on the go. Currently, the mobile app market is set for a 385% growth rate through 2021. And with mobile app development on the rise, now is the perfect time to develop a mobile app version of your business’s software as users have come to expect an on-the-go experience through a mobile app.

Mobile app development might seem daunting, but there are many resources and platforms out there to help any organization build the perfect mobile app and simplify the process. Hatch Apps is a service-enabled platform with a mission to bring transparency, speed and price stability to the software development industry. We work hand-in-hand with customers to deploy custom software, leveraging pre-built components and building more for less. Make sure to book a conversation with a member of our team to learn about how app development can fit in your business strategy and improve your software’s experience.

Start Designing Your Custom App

Start Designing Your Custom App