Think your app is too data intensive for mobile use? Think again.
Can an app be too data intensive for a mobile format?
The other day, a financial services software company CEO commented to me that many of their screens—which show detailed trade information—will be difficult to scale for handheld devices.
It’s true: presenting large amounts of information in a mobile form seems daunting. However, in today’s application landscape with so many users on the go, we must go the extra mile to provide a well-planned mobile experience.
Why worry about mobile design if your employees use only company computers?
Even clients whose users are a captive audience using standardized company equipment should be wary of skipping thoughtful mobile design. For example, we’ve designed several enterprise apps used by employees on company computers, some of which only have Internet Explorer 8. This seems like a good reason to ignore mobile design, but we’ve seen countless instances in which users faced with using antiquated systems simply used their own smartphones as a work-around.
An example of complex data in a simple mobile design: Fluke Networks
We recently designed a web application that provides detailed trouble ticket information to cell tower service technicians. While technicians can carry ruggedized company laptops to access the app from the field, for the sake of convenience many use their own mobile devices instead.
We designed an app that provides rich information when used on a large screen and still provides simple, clean, and useful information on mobile.
Here’s how we did it:
1. We compiled the full list of features for power users of the app so we could fully understand the task flows.
2. We identified the critical information and actions and provided only those elements on the mobile view.
3. As the browser window grows columns appear, informational sections become richer, and tap interactions become expanding panels to drill into details.
4. We used a Bootstrap framework to quickly develop mobile responsive page layouts that scale up or down gracefully.
Thinking mobile can mean unexpected benefits
Fluke Networks realized an additional opportunity when we handed off the code. In a matter of days, they deftly repurposed our UI code into native OS mobile apps.
Here’s how Jerry Tremblay, Senior Software Architect, described his experience:
“By Acclaro delivering with bootstrap and clearly separating the HTML from the underlying logic and style, the team was able to rapidly replicate the majority of our desktop look-and-feel within a Cordova-based application in just a few days. Reusing the web-site code was significantly faster than our previous attempts using native-Android code, which equated to days rather than months of work. This enabled us to focus on mobility-specific features, like picture taking, integrating with internal map-applications, and adding video-chat features. By Acclaro delivering the project in an easy to use, and modular format, we were able to extend the project for the mobile application (like a mobile-specific menu) that did not affect the desktop platform functionality, or appearance. The benefit of this was the ability to maintain a nearly identical UI codebase for both desktop, and mobile versions, while delivering web and native applications.”
(See more screen captures of the Fluke app here.)
With some planning up front, you can extend your web app design into graceful mobile views, which in turn can even form the basis of native mobile apps.
Drop us a line if you’d like to discuss ideas for creating simple, useful, mobile interactions for your complex web application.
If this is your first time on our blog, why not check out the post I wrote about advertising placement on mobile apps?