advantage

Advantage of Iterative Prototyping in the Mobile App Development

Developing a magnetic and second to none mobile app is not easy. It takes a lot of time & efforts learning and experiencing the ways to come up with a fully-fledged website that can return the favor of making it such a hit. But, the number of hours spent on the development of a successful mobile application is none of the concerns of the user.

They are busy busting their mobile battery, making their own lives better. Although, the fast-growing mobile industry is soon to step into something more practical and intriguing, which is surely not related to this topic, so, you must also read about the Technological Advancements: Mobile Apps to Chatbots.

App developers need to focus on plenty of minute details such as operating systems, devices, the size of the screen, etc., and that too, at the designing stage as well as in the testing phase. Besides, they need to decide the type of the mobile app, either it can be a native or cross-platform. Considering all the factors like target audience, market size, etc., they make a decision. Repetitions of such small yet important steps have led to the formation of a repetitive development process.

A major role is played by the prototypes as they allow the developers to build an ultimate website with the fewest number of bugs as they enable high-end testing. It also enables stakeholders to buy out early in the process. In the mobile app design process, developing a prototype is a vital and advantageous step. Below are the 12 steps of mobile app development process:

1. Defining Motives and Uniqueness

There are some basic questions that are needed to be answered before entering the business line. One such question is- what is the niche? Before knowing what are you up to, you cannot even put the first step down. So, first answer what is going to be the prime function of your app? How will it serve to the people? Who will be your target audience?

In the quest of answering to such questions, you might stumble upon some points that are going to give the uniqueness you require to develop a successful mobile app. Those points will be the reason; you are going to achieve the first targets of your business and create followers and brand loyalty for the application. For example, Spotify offers access to numerous songs with legal take-anywhere access, which makes it a second to none music application. Probably, at initial stages, they might have encountered with some illegal or unpaid downloading issues, which led to such solution of the problem.

Finding uniqueness is easy, if your analysis is strong and you have quality target audience. You just need to pick the ideal clients and analyze their likes and dislikes. Focus groups and forms will enable you to create user profiles, and that needs to be uploaded with mobile preferences and user behaviors.

Once you have found all the answers to these questions, you will be able to form an MVP (minimum viable product), a base which will help you develop a proper and effective mobile app.

2. Designing Blueprint With the Team

After the first step, you might feel like kick starting the designing part of the application. But, if you want to create something worth spending time on, then you must wait for it and instead go for paper wireframing. This will help you make easy alterations to your design, and the changes will be done faster and effortlessly.

Draw a prototype on a rough paper to envisage the main user flows and key functionality. Although, sketching a prototype generally helps in mapping single UIs, but if done properly, you can also devise the journey and navigation flows of the visitors with its help. Keeping the basics in mind, use stickers and sharpies for mapping the application, or you can use the wide range of templates and tools for creating a large portion of the paper wireframe stage. You can also apply cut-outs of icons and buttons from the numerous templates present online, to derive a presentable paper prototype to your potential or prospective investors.

For the development of certain operating system, UI Stencil is a perfect tool that can help you with widgets in your wireframe on both the OS, i.e., Android and iOS. Besides, it’s time to bring up all the team members you require on the project; then you can work on digitalizing and wireframing of the application in a prototyping tool.

3. Study the Files of the Competitors and Try Not to Repeat Their Mistakes

There are millions of apps available on the stores, which means, there is a high probability that someone is also working or has worked on the similar application like yours. Therefore, go through their case study and find out about the problems and challenges they fought, along with noticing their achievements. Your research will help you get better in the following areas:

  • Number of similar apps or competitors
  • Vault of inspiration
  • Analyzing technical requirements, features, and functionality
  • Beneficial in extracting profitability and marketability

On the app stores, look for similar apps and pen down the names of the apps as well as go through the review section to know the opinions of the people.

If you find something special in those apps, find whether or not it has open source control. It can be done by going to the apps acknowledgment page, where you will get the open source components used by that application. Furthermore, you can improvise to provide a more alluring user experience. Cocoa Controls is an open source marketplace that can be used to find out your competitor’s open source codes.

Another possibility of this research is that you can find out an application which has already provided all the features and functions you were thinking to offer. Next, you need to analyze its market reach and brand value, which can be done with the help of some free tool.

You also need to state the plus points of your product which are not available with the current app or the least you can do is- present a concrete risk mitigation strategy. If unable to do so, it’s time to shut down the process and head on to the next mobile app development project. Do not lose hope if you stop the development process; you just learned a very big lesson with it, and you will perform much better next time.

4. Story Mapping & Finding Resources

Now there are two ways you can carry out the operation- either you can stick to the papers or you can go digital. Staying on papers will give you a much broader approach to look at things as you can use your utmost creativity for story mapping before doing all digital.

On the other hand, mapping stories in the old-school manner can go wrong sometimes, most probably when your teammates are mobile or you aspire for a highly dynamic storyboard which remains active and connected throughout the whole process. FeatureMap and StoriesOnBoard are suggested by us, if you are planning to opt digitalization with user stories as you can avail browser-based solutions, enabling you to connect with various teams.

These tools can also turn into hurdles, if you are moving along with an agile methodology, especially in the case of reporting. Therefore, utilizing an interactive prototyping tool can be a great move. Initially, wireframing a prototype with the help of InVision, Axure or Justinmind can help you obtain visually fresh and happening essentials from stakeholders, and ensure they are tied in a bound.

This stage gives you an opportunity to envision the solutions required for the problems that came up in the first step, and accumulation of the requirements within the prototyping tool eliminates the requirement of documents having strong explanations.

5. User Scenario

With the help of the wireframe, you can see whether the app is functioning in the required manner or not. The prototyping tools also enable you to state the navigation flow by generating and scrutinizing user scenarios developed on your wireframe screens and functions as a user.

The scenario can have several components interlinked with each other and can convert map navigational flows into functional flows by upping the wireframe to high fidelity prototype.

Now, it’s time to collect the pieces of the puzzle, i.e., reporting workflows to stakeholders, fulfilling the project requirements, and carrying out each & every field for discussion. The most effective thing is to ask the clients or the stakeholders about what they feel or think about some particular elements and their functionality. Moreover, it gets even better if you bring out all the scenarios where you can find yourself a mess and may need a genuine advice or require resources.

A smart thing you can do is- provide the prototyping tool with the comments section, which will help you get all the suggestions and other inputs from all the stakeholders altogether. You can individually see to each comment and improve the information accordingly.

6. Keep Adding to the List of Requirements

It’s no big deal missing out on some basic element such as a screen, failing with the navigation flow or being unsuccessful in fulfilling a requirement. But, make sure to fix this problem at this point of the development process as your whole work can go in vain while you sit aside watching a developer writing codes for your app. Customize your requirements from within the prototyping tool by adding new fields individually.

7. Forge the Prototype with Stakeholders’ Suggestions

The moment you are done with alterations and fulfilling the requirements, initiate the process of converting the model to a highly functional prototype. Demonstrate potential interactions by introducing realistic animations & transitions to the current wireframe, then test the scenarios which were once hypothesized.

Skipping coding and moving directly to interactive will offer less chance of interpretation to both the designing and the development team.

8. Scrutinizing Prototype on Multiple Platforms

To develop a fine mobile app, it is very necessary to run some tests, which helps you discover minor or major bugs and other elements that could have been repeated in the phase of designing. The major advantage of user testing is that it disables the project to go out of the budget, especially when performing minor alterations to the UI concepts is not very costly. What is expensive is revamping the whole coded feature, wherein the expenditure can rise to 100% as the structure is rebuilt from scratch.

There are many ways to perform user-testing. Besides, with the choice of the most suitable combination as per your software, your process can be carried out more effectively. You can simply bring in software like Crazy Egg and Validately, which will eliminate the requirement of setting a testing lab inclusive of hardware and target audience as it comes with pre-installed other prototyping tools. Utilizing these tools along with the A/B tests or any other methods, on almost all the platforms with the prototype will lead to the accumulation of encyclopedic user feedback.

Remember, early phase testing on prototypes are most effective when the motive is to cut down the cost, while on the original coded software, the testing must not be delayed under any circumstances. This is the phase you can take a break from the prototype and bring in the developers to work on the ideas you have. You can never fully understand how users interact with the real software, while repeatedly checking the coded software will provide you with agility.

9. Confirm Requirements

Before you start coding, this phase offers you to tick down the boxes of the final rules with the help of the repeating prototype. Project with the utilization of static requirements demands a comprehensive document review. The prototype can be submitted along with the solutions proposed & all the shareholders, while alterations must be done as per the comments left in the prototyping tool.

10. Start With the Foundation

By this moment, you should have a clearly defined mobile app so that you can ask your developers to advance the preparations for a quick development run. To start iterating, the foundation must comprise of servers & storage and APIs set up by the developers along with the prototypes and requirements, strengthening the base.

11. UI Skins & Cycle Feedback

After all the necessary modifications done considering the comments from user testing and stakeholders, developers are now open to transfer the prototype screens plus interactions into highly trusted skins. Backend services, such as Kinvey, can be offered to the developers which will boost their front-end process with the SDK tools viz. Adobe PhoneGap. It is time to turn the focus of the operation to data storage & integration, versioning and server side logic. Prototype screens are difficult to code when it comes to UI.

The main motive behind the operation is to incorporate all the accumulated user feedback and come up with an app that is technically strong and meets user-centric perspective. The team must be flexible, have fast response time, ready to perform quick changes, iterative approach, and worthy customer collaboration. Scrum sprints can be used to organize the teams in order to achieve the development ideals. However, Scrum can be a little disaster due to its own issues.

12. User Testing

The phase has come when your application needs to be fully coded and must be ready with the original content and fine UI elements. Now, it’s the final user testing on all the devices with a wider range of users. However, if you lack funds to organize such testing stage, then go for AtryBox, which is a “user marketplace” that helps you with user groups and testing. Besides, you can also use Framer or Validately. There are many other options to complete the process which includes from triading to drunk testing.

Ajay Seth, founder of SyonInfomedia – Mobile App development company says, “Mobile App development has become a part of my life. My expert team of mobile app developers have been performing Iterative Prototyping from quite a long time now which has enabled us to deliver the most complicated projects with sheer excellence and pride. It has given a new meaning to our work.”

The Next Step

Iterative Prototyping is the best thing happened to the mobile app development industry. From the core of the users and their stories to the tools involved in the front or back-end development and the final phase of user testing, every individual development project goes via some gateposts on the road to realization and launch.

Although the points above will help you come up with a better arrangement of your tasks and your outcomes, every mobile development project is unique.

Therefore, you need to use the tools and methods that make your team reactive and proactive, creative and collaborative, so that you are able to develop apps that satisfy the requirements of the users and present them with fine UX.


Onextrapixel – Web Design and Development Online Magazine

Community Plus Purpose Equals Business Advantage

Community Plus Purpose Equals Business Advantage

A well-managed online community can be a business advantage.

That’s not just something I dreamed up, it’s the conclusion of a study entitled, “What Creates Advantage in the ‘Social Era’?” In this 2015 study, authors Tim Kastelle, Nilofer Merchant, and Martie Verreynne set out to discover what will provide an advantage to businesses in the era of the Internet.

In previous eras, simply getting your strategy right created an advantage. In the Social Era, though, honing your strategy right only moves you from the ‘No Advantage’ region of the map into the first or second row. What causes the big jump in performance, that extra 30% increase or more, is combining community (ideas of many) and purpose (yet aligned to your mission). That’s the recipe for the giant leap to the top of the map.

Click to read the full study: What Creates Advantage in the ‘Social Era?’

The research reviews how, over time, what was once necessary to gain advantage becomes “table stakes.” It’s no longer enough to have the lowest price, best product, or access to capital. It’s not enough to have a unique niche. Those things are just necessary to survive. In order to thrive, businesses must figure out how community can be applied to their unique strategy.

Technological change has made collaboration a necessary part of economic production. And those businesses that can apply collaboration thoughtfully will gain advantage.

Key Takeaways for your Community

  • Treat your customers and/or employees as co-creators of value within your organization, not just value extractors
  • Celebrate unique points of view and outside ideas
  • Clarify your business mission, and then use that as a controlling force for your community strategy
  • Ensure that your community guidelines are transparent
  • Recognize that when your community invests in an idea, it co-owns its success

Can you think of other ways you can weave purpose into your community strategy?

This blog post was originally published by Rosemary O’Neill on Social Strata 

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Social Media Explorer

5 Tips for Taking Advantage of the 2016 Social Commerce Boom

2015 was one of the biggest years for eCommerce around the world, and social media had a big part in it. Out of the total global eCommerce sales, more than $ 30 billion were generated directly from different social networks, an increase of $ 10 billion from 2014, and more than $ 25 billion from 2011. Few other industries can demonstrate such staggering growth in just over five years. And it’s only getting bigger.

2016, however, promises to be an even bigger year for eCommerce in general and social commerce in particular. More than 59% of marketers believe that social commerce will be the fastest growing trend in the coming year. Leading social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are introducing different eCommerce features to help their users take advantage of this trend.
If you run an eCommerce business or depend heavily on different online channels for generating sales, you need to be prepared for the social commerce boom we’re likely to witness in the next 12 months.
Here are some of the trends you need to stay in line with in order to take advantage

5 Tips for Taking Advantage of the 2016 Social Commerce Boom

1. Customer Reviews Will Make or Break Your Sales

Social networks have had a huge impact on the way people purchase things online. A study by Hubspot shows that people are 75% more likely to purchase a product when referred by a friend on a social network. In general, over 90% of people take brand recommendations from friends and 70% trust consumer reviews more than advertisements.

With such an overwhelming number of people trusting the opinion of their social networks, customer referrals and reviews can prove to be the game changer for your business.
To ensure that your customers refer your brand to their friends on different social networks, you need to provide them incentives like check-in discounts, and engage with them regularly.
The higher your engagement level with your target customers, the greater chance you have of generating positive word of mouth for your brand.

2. A Memorable Buying Experience Will Win You Loyal Customers

With every other brand offering discounts, exclusive offers and value added services to attract customers, customer experience and the simplicity of your buying process are two factors that can help you stand out and be noticed.
The rewards of providing exceptional user experience are huge. According to Salesforce, consumers are willing to spend almost 54% more for a better purchase experience. On the other hand, research also indicates that it takes a brand almost 12 exceptional purchase experiences to overcome the damage of one bad experience.
For an eCommerce website, some of the key user experience factors are website speed, a mobile friendly design, a quick checkout phase and multiple payment options.
An alternate approach, which several leading brands and entrepreneurs have adopted, is to sell directly on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks using different social media store apps.

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This allows your followers to purchase products while staying on their preferred social network. Getting rid of the additional step of routing users from a social network to your online store improves the user experience and makes the buying process more convenient.
A good example of an effective online store that offers a delightful customer experience is Selz, a digital selling and online store app. By adding a Facebook store to your fan page, you can sell directly to your followers in an environment they trust. From product selection to checkout, the complete process takes place on Facebook. Plus, your buyers can pay in a secure manner using PayPal and Credit/Debit Card.

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In the age of social commerce, selling digital products like eBooks or physical products to your followers and prospects on a social network is a great way to offer a memorable user experience and get your buyers to share your brand with their friends.

3. Facebook Ads Will Take Your Business to the Next Level

2015 was the year when Facebook ads made huge strides as compared to the previous years. Marketers invested heavily in Facebook advertising due to which Facebook’s ad revenue increased by more than 42% from 2014, and is expected to reach almost $ 27 billion dollars by the end of 2017.
The audience targeting and if/then features of Facebook ads make it ideal for your eCommerce business. A study by Invesp shows that nearly 92% of marketers in the US are using Facebook ads to prom ote their brand and special offers.

But creating effective Facebook ads requires detailed competitor analysis and an accurate understating of your target audience.
If you want to invest heavily in Facebook advertising (which you should), this step by step guide by Neil Patel will help you get started.

4. The Timing and Frequency of Your Posts Still Counts

No matter how much you invest in paid advertisements, organic reach and engagement on social networks is still important for your business.
Facebook, and some of the other leading social networks, have significantly cut down the organic reach of user generated content, but there are still ways you can get more eyeballs on you posts without spending money.
Two key factors in this regard are the timing and the frequency of your posts. Posting at the right times, and with the right frequency, will not only help you reach more people, but also increase your chances of generating user engagement and driving action.
For example, according to research, the best times to post on Instagram is between 2PM – 5PM on Wednesdays, while the worst time is between 6AM – 9AM on any day. Similarly, Tweeting on weekends can get you almost 300% more engagement that weekdays. You can find out the peak times and ideal posting frequency of the top social networks in this detailed infographic.

5. Stop ignoring Pinterest, Instagram and WhatsApp

While Facebook is clearly the leader when it comes to generating eCommerce sales, you can’t ignore Pinterest, WhatsApp and Instagram because of the huge business potential they offer.
In fact, according to Statista, the average per order value for Instagram ($ 65) and Pinterest ($ 58.95) is higher than the average per order value of Facebook ($ 55). Both Pinterest and Instagram are primarily visual based social networks with a huge user base.

Even fewer marketers are using WhatsApp to its full potential. WhatsApp is not just a messaging app anymore. Around the world, more than 50 billion messages are sent every day on WhatsApp. Research show that more than 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes, and mobile users are 4x-5x more likely to take action on a sales offer as compared to desktop users.
Are you getting any ideas?
Several leading brands are already using WhatsApp to reach their clients for relationship building and exclusive offers. 2016 might just see the rise of direct eCommerce marketing through WhatsApp as well.

Wrapping Up

With technology and communication channels evolving quicker than ever before, it’s hard to predict with certainty what the next 12 months might have on offer. However, past data and current trends strongly suggest that 2016 will be a major year for eCommerce, with social media playing a key role in it. The data backed trends I’ve in this post are likely to dominate the coming year. If you stay on top of them, you can have a year of unprecedented success with social commerce.

The post 5 Tips for Taking Advantage of the 2016 Social Commerce Boom appeared first on Social Media Explorer.

        


Social Media Explorer

Are you social sharing to your best advantage?

Social-SharingIf your company is involved in social media, one of the elements you worry about is if you’re sharing in the best way. You want to maximize your company’s exposure but choosing the best social networks, the best way to communicate and even the best time of day.

Your blog content:

If you aren’t using your corporate blog to fuel your social media strategy, you are almost certainly not as effective and efficient as you could be.

If you are sharing great content on social networks that doesn’t exist on your blog or content hub, you are missing out on a huge SEO opportunity. If your content is on your blog, it will generate links and social indicators (likes, shares, +1s, etc.) that will benefit your website’s domain.

Blog content is permanent – social content is not. Let’s say that you posted a great tax tip on Facebook that received hundreds of Likes. When tax time comes around next year, that post will be long gone. However, if you post the tax tip on your blog, you can re-share it year after year. In addition, the tip will be indexed by the search engines and will likely drive search traffic as well.

Social sharing:

How you share content influences the your audience’s reactions. Here are some suggested copy do’s and don’ts as you compose your next update.

  • 11-15 words is the sweet spot for Twitter (about 100 characters), and you’re safe to use up to 25. Go any shorter, and your message will likely lack enough information to draw people in.  But you want to leave enough “open real estate” so you your audience can re-tweet or comment.
  • LinkedIn postings should aim for 16-25 words, but you are safe to go shorter if necessary.
  • Messages on Twitter and LinkedIn receive significantly more clicks if they use a hash tag.
  • Using a number (i.e. 4 smart ways to work with your attorney) generate  more clicks on Twitter.

Social timing:

It’s not just what you say, but when you say it.  Timing your social sharing matters.

  • Want to get some social love on LinkedIn? Be sure to share your content on Sundays, which delivers more clicks that any other day of the week.
  • Fridays yield more clicks on Twitter than any other day of the week.
  • Facebook content does well around lunchtime and later in the afternoon. This is because many people get on Facebook during lunch and towards the end of the workday.
  • Schedule tweets between 10am and 2pm. Many people check their Twitter stream after they settle into the office, but they are less likely to check it once they start wrapping up for the day.  There’s another spike of activity in the evening, when everyone checks back into their social networks.
  • Twitter and LinkedIn content are both more likely to be consumed during the top and middle of the hour. This is likely due to the reader’s need to check their feeds in between meetings.
  • Again – keep in mind that these are good rules of thumb, but your industry, audience and experiences may vary. The key is to actually look at your analytics and identify the patterns so you can be as effective as possible in your own social sharing strategy.

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