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Mobile & Web : Kicking App

5 keys to creating mobile/Web/social network apps that engage customers and win business

April 2012 By Sriram Ramanathan

Last year, Gartner's Forecast: Mobile Application Stores, Worldwide, 2008-2014, predicted that by the end of 2014, more than 185 billion applications will have been downloaded from mobile app stores. Each of those 185 billion apps represents an opportunity to connect directly with customers. With that many apps, and thousands of devices and channels to choose from, most marketers find themselves buried under a mountain of choices, asking, "What's the best strategy?" and "Where's the ROI?" and "What's the most effective way for my brand to capture consumer attention?"

Some companies are shifting the way they approach their marketing efforts, deciding it doesn't begin with a website and it can't rely on mass market "push" campaigns. We are seeing a new mindset focused on customer engagement start to lead the charge—with Web strategy, print and even sales strategy falling in place behind it. An interesting example of this was Yahoo's recent statement that it is moving to a "mobile first" approach, while at the same time discontinuing 10 of its mobile applications that hadn't managed to engage large audiences.

Here are the five fundamental principles of good application design that apply whether you are creating your app for a mobile, social media or Web platform, along with several ways to deliver a stunning and engaging user experience that will keep customers loyal to your brand year after year.

1. Consistent User Experience
Keeping user interface and experience top of mind when designing applications is crucial. I'd suggest a vertical application strategy that allows branding with your company's logo and colors and industry-specific functionality. This will allow you to create good-looking, easy-to-use applications you can get in users' hands quickly. This is all achievable with user experience widgets to enrich the user experience, platform-specific user interface and controls, and complete extensibility that lets app designers create anything they can dream up.

2. Business Intelligence
Applications need to be built on good data to be useful. It's important to consider integration options for your application. Thankfully, most of today's application platforms can integrate with almost any data source, including Web services, standard ERP and CRM adapters, scraping and custom connectors. This allows you to interactively optimize data feeds from legacy sources without writing a single line of code, and will help you make the most of existing internal resources at a lower cost.


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