The beginners guide to mobile first app development

Do you remember the good old days, before mobile first design, when software was distributed in boxes via physical retail outlets? The Internet altered the way things happen, enabling people to download software. Nowadays the Internet is the distribution mechanism but apps still need to be installed and regularly updated. The term ‘Internet distributed mobile apps’ refers to apps that are able to work offline and can be easily updated without the hassle of installing a new version.

 

The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 created a new type of distribution platform – the App Store. Apple, Google , Amazon and many other companies have all created their own private app marketplaces. In many ways, these new app stores actually hark back to the old days of installing software. Apps are developed using API’s that are specific to each different platform and each using different programming languages (iOS, Android etc.). In many ways, we’ve come full circle back to the old client/server days just with better/faster web connections, new programming environments, better infrastructure combined with all of the social channels like Facebook and Twitter.

 

Most people would imagine mobile-first to represent developing an app with a smartphone interface in mind as a priority. However there are a myriad of platforms to consider including desktop, tablet and se

t-top boxes or smart tv. Traditional app development has always conformed to this as apps that are built natively focus solely on iPhone or Google Android and are developed and customised for each specific platform. Mobile-first often refers to a different approach whereby apps are developed for the web browser, to suit a myriad of devices using HTML5/CSS/Javascript directives. In some instances, hybrid apps are developed using HTML5 and deployed to a specific app store using a native wrapper.

So when you develop your first app, you have all of these factors to consider. You have to understand your use case and what the end user wants from your app experience. Compare this against the skills that you have available and the length of time you have to develop something and you can define a mobile-first approach to app development that could be native, purely HTML5 driven or a hybrid of the two. It can depend on the type of content you already have to utilise within your app.

Irrespective of whether you go for native app development, HTML5 or a hybrid approach, the most important factor in choosing is to establish your target audience persona. The right approach to adopt can be influenced by so many factors including culture, geography and demographics. For example, if you’re targeting Japan, it’s important to consider that many people still use feature phones (or non web-enabled ‘dumb phones’) and develop your app accordingly.

Whatever your approach, it’s always beneficial to get the right advice. The Waracle team has worked on numerous mobile-first projects for clients across the UK. With a strong focus on mobilising desktop first UI and enterprise mobility and security, we can help with all of your mobile app development and marketing requirements, contact us today.


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