By Rivi Aspler
Many companies (especially the big ones) are still investing considerable efforts in the development of independent desktop, tablet and smartphone applications. Why? Because the needs of heavy-duty enterprise applications cannot be reduced to a single UI design that is common to all three targets.
Unfortunately, Responsive Web Design has not proved yet to be an efficient tool to approach rich business applications. For Product Managers, this means double the effort. They must now:
- Acknowledge that the new desktop is the Tablet.
- Decide which features should be available on each device; Meaning, what should be available on both Tablets and Smartphones as opposed to what should be available only on Tablets. This is an important decision. To clearly differentiate, the Smartphone version will be targeted at a specific role or to a specific set of functions.
- Define and design two modes of interaction – Tablet based and Smartphone based. Also an important step, if you want to ensure high adoption level of both products, different designs are needed. For a feature, such as ‘view my schedule’, the different screen resolutions requires the UI designer to design the interaction modes in two different ways, hence requiring extra time for developers to implement.
Luckily there are still cross-device interaction guidelines that you should be aware of. Both Tablets and Smartphone products require:
- Touch gestures
- Touch target sizes
- Flattened information hierarchy
- Layered content (see the screenshot below)
- Minimize the need for scrolling
- All orientations support
- Graphically rich content
- Collaboration oriented (call/share…)
Smartphone applications require an even more focused definition and design.
- Focused as possible target audience/role
- Micro Tasking
- Fewer interaction options
- Small snippets of info
Product management for mobile business applications is an emerging activity. The knowledge gathered from building eCommerce, games or functionally poor mobile websites will simply not do. Heavy duty, function-rich business applications require a paradigm change. The guidelines listed above are just the starting point. I’m sure that this post will require on going updates. I wonder what they will be?
Meanwhile, the following information sources are certainly worth your time:
- Android Design, your place for learning how to design Android apps
- Designing for iOS 7
- Touch gesture diagrams
- Touch target sizes
Tweet this: Mobile Business Applications. Managing the Product Twice http://wp.me/pXBON-3WO #prodmgmt #mobile
About the author
Rivi is a product manager with over 15 years of product life-cycle management experience, at enterprise sized companies (SAP), as well as with small to medium-sized companies. Practicing product management for years, Rivi now feels she has amassed thoughts and experiences that are worth sharing.