Skip to main content

App Platforms Simplify Development So Businesses Can Focus on User Experiences

Appian Contributor
November 16, 2017

Businesses are facing a mobile app development conundrum. They must constantly choose between getting solutions into production quickly and efficiently or spending the time to build an excellent app that creates a positive user experience. There isn't much room for compromise. In an interview with TechTarget, Bob Egan, CEO and founder of Seraphim Group, told the news source that mobile devices have forced businesses to completely rethink how they design and develop apps.

"The first earthquake that hit - at a 7.0 - was that everything people had learned about app development in terms of web or the desktop had to be thrown away," Egan told TechTarget. "Those skills just didn't play well...Then, we got into the second earthquake: those companies that tried to design apps just for the iPhone or just for Android and found that didn't work. They also approached it with the mentality of trying to shrink the apps they made for the web down to a postage-sized app, which didn't allow for great user experience."

Sacrificing user experiences to simplify the technical burden of developing mobile apps isn't feasible. Users will tune out.

A study performed by Futurion analyzed mobile deposit apps for the financial services sector. After looking at 15 apps, it found a direct link between an app's customer experience ranking and the frequency with which users download and use the solution, The Financial Brand reported.

It's clear that many businesses are still figuring out how to develop for mobile. It is similarly evident that they need to put customer experiences under the microscope. The new development in all this is the way mobile application development platforms can circumvent typical app creation challenges and help companies manage this balancing act.

How App Platforms Change Mobile Development

Consider the construction of a cloud app platform:

    • A cloud configuration is established featuring databases, end-user hub interfaces, network connections, app servers and everything else needed to host and run an app through the cloud

    • Data workflows are designed so information can move intelligently between apps within the platform

    • A hub is created to serve as a user dashboard, offer personalized analytics and let users quickly jump to different apps and services from a central location

    • Collaboration tools are built into the underlying programming of the platform so they naturally integrate into all of the apps that reside in the setup

    • The platform itself is built for native functionality in different device and operating system environments

"App platforms let developers focus on business and user needs."

In essence, the design and development of the platform itself acts as a stable, closed configuration for app development. This creates a situation in which users are developing for the platform, not the device. As a result, they can focus on the business and user needs instead of having to jump through technical hoops in order to get the job done. On top of this foundation, app platforms offer:

    • Low-code development environments that provide a visual interface so non-tech users can quickly create or customize powerful apps

    • Process management tools that make it easier to align application features with the day-to-day tasks users need to complete

    • Governance and oversight settings that allow IT teams to establish permissions, controls and policies for apps created within the platform

These user-facing capabilities combine with the backend construction of app platforms to change mobile development. Specialized programming skills are no longer necessary in this environment and users don't have to worry about designing for a certain device type. Furthermore, all of the data still exists in a controlled backend, so IT teams can give users freedom and flexibility to get creative without having to worry about security and regulatory problems.

All told, an app platform eliminates many of the inherent challenges associated with mobile development, working around those issues so companies can emphasize creating positive user experiences.

Using App Platforms to Improve User Experiences

With less development time being spent on the technical side of creating an app - even test and release processes are simpler because the backend platform is so stable - organizations are freed to put more time into creating positive user experiences. A few examples of ways to do this include:

    • Creating an app that meets a very specific purpose and does little else. Typically, organizations didn't have the resources to solve small issues with technology because the development was too resource intensive. Now, if users are having a problem, they just make an app to solve it

    • Iterating on existing apps to update outdated policies. In many industries, business demands are changing faster than the IT team can develop new solutions. The ability to iterate more quickly with app platforms helps organizations keep up

    • Simplifying interface changes and adjustments so companies can easily test different configurations and swap out options that don't work well

    • Letting business users create their own apps so IT teams that don't fully understand the user experience aren't the ones trying to figure out what people need an app to accomplish

These types of capabilities can help companies ramp up development efforts without sacrificing the user experience, helping them gain a competitive edge.

"The days of adjusting your company around what technology can accomplish are gone."

Turning Mobile Development into a Marketplace Advantage

Mobile devices are taking over both the consumer and enterprise worlds. Businesses that are able to create mobile-optimized experiences give their employees opportunities to work flexibly and efficiently. Organizations that have excellent customer-facing apps can keep consumers engaged and in direct, convenient contact with the business. The end result is better employee and customer engagement, something that begins with technologies focused on the user experience.

App platforms have been around since the early advent of cloud computing. In recent years, however, industry leaders have entered the territory of creating enterprise-class applications that can align IT and business operations in intuitive ways.

Appian is among the organizations driving this change. Our long history driving innovation in business process management has informed our efforts in app platform design, leading to a solution that lets companies establish apps that fit the business. The days of adjusting your company around what technology can accomplish are gone. It's time to rethink app development so the technology keeps up with user experience demands.

Empower, build, launch and change faster than ever before with Appian's low-code application platform.