The last edition of Android Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide was released in October 2019. A lot has changed since then. To help...
Meeting Customers Where They Are With a Multiexperience Development Strategy
Users expect to interact with your company when and how they choose. This can include via the web, mobile applications, chatbots, voice assistants, and wearable devices. To maximize your company’s potential customer base and customer satisfaction, you need a multiexperience development strategy: a plan for delivering consistent, high-quality apps across a multitude of platforms.
Facing users’ expectations to interact on a variety of platforms, many companies struggle to provide a high-quality experience across all of them. It can be a challenge even to keep feature parity between the web and a single mobile platform. As a result, companies will often pick either iOS or Android to launch on and defer their entry onto the other mobile platform until later, limiting their potential customer base. As each of these apps evolves over time, development speed slows down. The functionality of the apps on different platforms drifts as new features don’t make it onto every platform. Bugs appear as different platforms use slightly different logic to interpret data. When it is this challenging just to target web and mobile platforms, adding even more platforms like chat, voice assistants, and wearables is a non-starter.
Failing to provide a high-quality experience for users across different platforms risks losing users on those platforms. Users perceive the apps as out-of-date and unreliable. Large segments of users who prefer to use other platforms will reach for competitors that have offerings on them. The result is the loss of users to competitors with broader reach across platforms.
To avoid this problem, you can use a multiexperience development strategy to satisfy and retain those customers. A multiexperience development strategy is a plan for delivering consistent, high-quality apps across a multitude of platforms. There is no off-the-shelf solution to this that meets the quality demands of the market. Instead, companies will need to apply their application engineering capabilities in an intentional way to come up with their own approach.
When you are thinking about creating a multiexperience development strategy internally or finding a partner to work with you, here are some important areas to plan:
- Technology Selection: First, you need to decide which platforms are the most important for your company to target and which technologies you should use to build for those platforms. Should you use cross-platform solutions like Flutter, Kotlin Multiplatform, or React Native to help keep your mobile apps in sync while reducing costs, or is traditional native development the best path to the quality you need? For the web, what new browser technologies are available to make your users’ web experience more app-like? Should your company consider building apps for chat, voice assistant, and wearable platforms, and if so, when is the time right to build them? Teams who have experience building for these platforms can provide valuable information to help make these decisions.
- API-First Development: It’s important to ensure each frontend app has the data it needs in a consistent way, and one of the best ways to do this is to design your backend API before development begins. Mocking tools such as those provided by SwaggerHub and Apollo GraphQL can allow frontend development to begin in parallel to backend development. This allows frontend apps to uncover needs that weren’t anticipated before backend work has started on them, preventing wasted effort. With a consistent API, your company will be ready to spin up additional platforms in the future as soon as the need arises.
- Cross-Team Collaboration: For a consistent user experience, projects across multiple frontend and backend platforms need to be coordinated. The best way to facilitate this communication is with small, fast, cost-efficient teams. Features should be delivered on a regular basis so they can be rolled out quickly without being blocked by one platform that is moving more slowly. Designers with expertise in mobile and web application design should be integrated with the teams to ensure your apps deliver a world-class experience to your users.
- Speed of Delivery: Delivery automation technologies are important to ensure that development teams stay focused on building features, not performing repetitive deployment tasks. Continuous Integration servers can run automated tests across all platforms to ensure your apps stay stable for your users as new features are added. Test and production builds can be automatically deployed to low-maintenance Platform-as-a-Service hosting and app distribution tools such as TestFlight and Microsoft App Center, allowing business users to quickly test and provide feedback.
Technology selection, API-first development, cross-team collaboration, and speed of delivery will all significantly impact your company’s ability to implement an effective multiexperience development strategy.
As you are evaluating your internal resources and potential partners, Big Nerd Ranch would be happy to help. We have a breadth of experience developing for platforms ranging from web, native mobile, cross-platform, and platforms such as chat, voice, and wearables. Our API-first strategies, team collaboration, and speed-of-delivery tooling can help give you momentum developing world-class apps for the right platforms.