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What Mobile App Development Can Gain from Model-Driven Approach

model-driven approach for mobile app development

The debate over the prospects and influence of mobile applications is long dead. Today, with every second person in urban areas using a smartphone, every industry is exploiting this massive paradigm shift and no one really doubts the immense potential it still holds.

Be it a business endeavor, a communication medium or a solution for businesses to streamline their various dimensions, mobile apps have now penetrated almost every space and the effects it brings along are felt across the board.

But as booming as the app industry may be, creating a mobile application is still a high resource and time-consuming prospect. Even the enterprises with massive cash-piles and workforce can take up to a year, even more, to come up with an elegant solution. This not only creates a bottleneck between exploding demand and sluggish supply, but it also risks losing the initial luster by the time the application is actually deployed. The primary reason for such slow and inefficient development process is that except for few advancements like Object-oriented-programming, the basic model that is used to develop a software hasn’t evolved much.

Issues with traditional models of application development:

  • Time- No matter how efficient developers you have, building a mobile application consumes a lot of time.
  • Expensive- Apps, being a complex piece of software that require a wide range of expertise and efforts to create, are bound to be expensive.
  • Redundancy- if you have
  • Communication-gap- Traditional models of application development fragment the entire development procedure into different domains like the design, coding, analytics, and only one of those teams work on the app at a given time. This not only results in high inefficiencies but also degrades the overall quality and productivity.

Mobile developers have been facing these issues for a long time and various different approaches have been tried over time- some with a little success, while others outright failure. But none comes close to the fluency and efficiency that model-driven development provides.

What is the model-driven approach?

As you might know, mobile application, in fact, all software are built using a number of components, each with their own defined functionality. Typically, to develop a software, each component is first created and then joined to make the application functional. That is, the development procedure is highly specialized and flows from bottom to top. The model-driven approach, on the other hand, first creates a blueprint of the entire application and then is implemented as a whole. In this case, the  app development procedure is highly generalized and flows from top to bottom.

While this may only seem like a reversed approach in building applications, there are indeed a lot of factors that result in high efficiency and enhanced quality in the final product. So, let’s take a look at the issues it can solve and benefits it offers in the long run:

1. Speed- Once you develop a prototype/accurate model of a mobile application, the path to a functional application is really simple. All you need to do is generate the code or simply execute the existing model by using one of many tools that will offer the required functionality. By some estimates, model-driven development is projected to be five times faster than the traditional programming.

2. Cost-effective- Building application through model-driven approach is also economical due to two factors- 1. Since it takes less time to develop, the billing hours are substantially reduced. 2. It also requires fewer people to handle the project as compared to traditional methods, which again helps cut the cost.

That said, the initial shift to model-driven development can save on resources, which will be more than compensated in the long run.

3. Highly adaptable- One of the major roadblocks in mobile app development is the high fragmentation due to various operating systems and their corresponding platforms. But when you follow model-driven approach, this fragmentation doesn’t really matter due to the fact that the basic initial model fundamentally remains the same. For instance, creating the same app for two different platforms simply takes twice as much effort in traditional programming but such is not the case in model-driven development.

4. Synchronization- Since the heart of the model-driven approach lies in the initial model developed for the application, all concerned parties are free to collaborate on this stage. By deploying the expertise of all relevant domains like UI/UX, coding, business feasibility, at the same level, an optimum model (prototype) can be created, which when developed into an app, will be of top-notch quality than its traditional counterpart.

How Mobile Apps Have Surpassed Everything Else in the Digital Space

Almost 9 out of every 10 minutes that a user spends on a mobile device are spent on apps. Since mobile users outnumbered computer users back in 2014, and mobile devices are now the primary medium through which users access internet, music, messenger and everything else online, this data gives a clear picture of how deeply mobiles apps have seeded into the modern lifestyle and have come to dominate the entire digital space.

The general counter-argument that is put forward is- “essentially everything in a mobile device including dialers, camera, SMS, come in the form of apps, which accounts for such highly skewed data”. But an earlier report suggests that the native apps account for a mere 4% of the time spent on apps while the rest 96% is shared by apps preferred by individual users.

  • Facebook alone accounts for 19% of the time spent by the users on all apps.
  • Entertainment and gaming are the two most popular categories with 17% and 15% time-share, respectively.
  • Instant messaging takes the fourth spot with 12% time-share.
  • Browsers- which include surfing the entire web, consume just 10% of the users’ time spent on mobile devices.

Now if you closely study the data above, it reveals something very interesting. Barring a few exceptions, most of the services including Facebook can be easily accessed through browsers, but the users instead choose to spend their time on individual apps. This gives a clear indication of how beneficial it is to earn that space on users’ home screen.

But what if users have to search something? They must head to the web, right? Well, that seems only partially true. To the utter surprise of many, apps have also started to alter the search & browse habits of consumers with almost a quarter of them starting their search on some mobile app. For instance, if someone wants to search trendy shoes, they no longer ‘Google it’, but ‘Amazon it,’ which seems more convenient to them, primarily due to the Amazon app being at their fingertips.

Now let’s take a step back to analyze what’s really the cause of this major shift in consumer behavior. The internet, from its infancy, has been open in nature with everyone on a level field, and consumers free to choose. But the rise of smartphones also brought a parallel internet in the form of app stores. The companies, that had an early start, ceased this opportunity to earn their own exclusive space on the users’ phone and hence made it much tougher for new services to break their monopoly.

Think for yourself- when was the last time you used something other than YouTube to watch videos or other than Amazon for shopping. The answer you give, in turn, tells a lot about how you perceive the web and how mobile applications have changed your ways of accessing the internet.

What the future holds

While none of use says that the internet is going to die tomorrow; on the contrary, it will continue to prosper. But when it comes to groundbreaking innovations and user engagement, it is the app industry that will lead the market. Whether you are an entrepreneur looking to for an individual brand identity or an established business that needs to guard its dominance, missing out on this app revolution is a thing no industry can afford to do now.

9 Checkout Page Strategies to Maximize Conversion Rates

The most prominent factor that has led to the rise of e-Commerce is the convenience it brings to the users. But once you start diluting it, the customers can also turn away as quickly as they came in.

The most classic example of this customer behavior is the cart abandonment during the checkout process. With every cart abandoned, you aren’t just looking at the lost revenue, but also losing a potential customer. Especially now when a considerable chunk of purchases is made through mobile phones.

Grappling with varying degrees of hardware and network issues of these devices poses a much bigger challenge for the sellers. So, to keep those customers onboard and satisfied, these are a few tweaks that every e-Commerce should make on their mobile checkout page:

1. Registration

A survey indicated that 35% of the US customers who abandoned their cart did it because the site wanted them to create an account. People these days already have so many accounts on the internet that they find it burdensome to add one more to the list! So, forcing them to create another only drains their time and patience. Opt for express checkout through social login like Google or Facebook, or just let them checkout as a guest.

2. Simplified form

People shop online for a hassle-free experience. But if you force them to fill complex and lengthy forms, running away might just seem a better option to them. Ask only the information that you need for the particular order.

3. Minimal steps

When people shop on mobile, they are most likely on-the-move and do not have much time to spare. Condense all the requirements into tiny capsules of steps, so they can track their progress easily and do not opt out due to lack of time.

4. Appropriate font

Since you are serving customers on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, be sure to tailor your page according to their screen size. A customer, when asked to zoom in and zoom out for entering in each field might just get annoyed and leave.

5. Auto-authentication

While mobile phones do have limitations in terms of screen size and network, they also come with added benefits of GPS and contact lists. Leverage these capabilities to auto authenticate their identity and even auto-fill sections of their form like zip code, city, country.

6. Remove redundancy

If your checkout process requires the users to fill the billing and shipping details separately then you need to stop it now! Never ask users to type the same information twice. The most you can do is put a checkbox to validate their account.

7. Remove distractions

Anything not related to the purchase should not be a part of the checkout page. Keep that space neat and precise so that the customer can focus on those few final clicks.

8. Do not oversell

Once a customer is on your checkout page, it means they are ready to commit. But trying to promote other stuff through recommendations and offers can easily turn them off. Let them first complete the purchase, then you can offer as many recommendations as you like. This may help you encourage a new purchase as well.

9. Make it light

Mobile phones do not always have a reliable connection. While you can do little to solve that problem, you can, however make your pages as light as possible to make the entire process run smoothly.

After you implement all these changes, I’m sure there will be an increase in customer satisfaction level and a decrease in cart abandonment rate, but do not expect it to drop to zero.

There are people who abandon their cart just because they were only browsing and wanted to save a product for later. But this behavior too uncovers a major flaw in your overall design. Give your customers an effective method to bookmark items in the form of wishlist or buy-later. This will help you identify your current customers and the potential ones, and enable you to target them with best possible strategies.

Mobile App Testing: NO Is Not the Option

Mobile App Testing

Believe it, apps are a tricky thing to make. No matter how talented developers you have, even a missing semicolon has the potential to bring your app, and with it, your reputation crashing down to the ground.

And again, developers can take you only so far, after which it is the Quality Assurance (QA) team that analyzes what’s working and what’s not. While there is no such thing as a “bug-free” application, the mantra for creating a functional and efficient mobile app should be-“it’s not as much about how well you start, but how great you end up is what really counts.”

This does not mean that developers get a pass to write sloppy code but emphasizes on the fact that app development is more of an iterative effort than a linear process.

Contrary to developers, who need to figure out just one way to create a perfectly working app, the people from quality assurance face a bigger challenge- getting deep into the minds of millions of users and behave like them understanding how they would interact with the app, understand what could entice them and what not, and thus, identify any lags or bugs they might otherwise encounter.

The typical procedure for testing apps goes one out of these two ways:

  1. When the development team is done with coding, the app then goes in the hands of testing team, who after analyzing, send the product back with detailed reports of bugs found. The process continues until the testing team finds no more bugs. The app is then approved for release.
  2. There are some app development firms that outsource the testing part to another organization. While the process, in this case, remains similar to the one discussed, the difference lies in the communication and varying priorities. When you particularly outsource testing of the app, it’s difficult to manage and take follow ups from as there is a lot of communication gap. Also, it has been observed that companies/freelancers who only take care of the quality testing are not that mature and duty-bound.

While both these approaches do offer satisfactory results, there is no denying that they also drain considerable time and resources in the process. One fundamental limitation from which both of these approaches suffer is that they are designed to catch bugs only after all the modules and files are bred together.

Before we get into the ideal practices of app testing, let’s first establish what it really aims to achieve. App testing largely focuses on these two aspects:

1. Functionality- It includes testing the app for tasks that it was supposed to do. Additionally, its look and behavior on target devices are also evaluated.

2. Bugs & Lags- It includes testing the app for tasks that it wasn’t supposed to do. Creating adverse conditions and introducing anomalies is what this approach does to test the stability of the app.

While testing the functionality of any app is a relatively simpler task and there is little to do if developed by seasoned developers, it is the searching of lags and bugs that consume most of the time and effort of QA team.

Going back to the ideal practices, anyone who is remotely aware of the mechanism of app development knows that- every app, no matter how simple, consists of a host of different modules, which when interact, create the functional app we all love. Now imagine that one of the module developers used for the app was erroneous, which after interacting with other modules raised a host of different exceptions, and by the time it reached the QA team, tracing all those errors back to this one single bug totally screwed you up. If only the developers and QA team had been working closely and followed the approach of unit testing, such instances could be eliminated and thus, saved a lot of time and resources.

Apart from bugs, which do annoy users and hampers brand image, surveys have indicated that it is actually the “easy-to-use features” that attract and retain most users- as much as 79%. Also, if your app takes more than 6 seconds to load, most users are likely to never use it again! With such high expectations and equally rewarding targets, it is also the job of the QA team to ensure:

  • The app layout is intuitive and easy to grasp.
  • All the features are easily accessible and everything is clutter-free.
  • The app swiftly adjusts to various screen sizes and other hardware constraints.
  • And the most important- it efficiently does what it is expected to do at a faster speed.

To achieve these varying goals, QA team must also resort to various approaches. While traditional methods of using emulators is a good start, more extensive testing on real devices is a must to grasp the full extent of performance and user experience.

Testing for security

Though it came late into the picture of app development, security is now the second largest factor that determines the loyalty of consumers to an app- as much as 69%. With the users getting aware of security flaws, the onus of making an app secure also falls on the QA team. Especially if your app deals with online transactions and/or collects personal sensitive information, even a slight mistake can not only cost your credibility but can also land you into a lot of troubles.

From risk analysis and assessment to creating their counter-measures, your app must go through the entire process to ensure the users can trust it with their personal information.

To conclude, testing an app requires as much creativity as developing it, if not more. Conventional testing methodologies can only help you identify conventional bugs, which is not nearly enough in this age of competition. What you need is a robust, fast, and secure application that provides a smoother success path.

How to protect your app from zombie attack?

Mobile app Development
You certainly have heard of disasters, like a hurricane, earthquake, floods, etc., but take a look here at a very lesser known phenomenon of technological disaster, “zombie apocalypse”. This is actually a disaster when it comes to mobile application, and the impact that it can cause to your business can be disastrous.

Before we talk much about the zombies and their attack on the apps, let us first understand that what exactly is a zombie attack on App? Well, this situation comes when an app could not make it to the list of top 300 apps in the two out of the three days in the App Store. Such apps are labeled as Zombie apps. Presently, there are 300 apps displayed in the 155 iOS country stores in 23 different genres. There are both free and the paid listings, which means an app has a fair chance for some time to make it through the top list. However, it is very easy to say as compared to doing it.

Some competitive app genres, such as business category, gives a tough fight to the new apps that are flourishing in the market. These burgeoning apps are overshadowed by the worldwide successfully running apps, which gives them hardly any chance of entering into the app store, and consequently these apps turn out to be Zombie apps automatically. In such cases, how do you save your apps from being attacked by the zombies? Do not raise your eyebrows in doubt. Follow the below given ways, and save your apps from resting in peace after a deadly attack by zombies.

Choose a category that gives you less competition

App categories, like weather, finance, newsstand, navigation, and the like last stands the chance of being attacked by the zombies. They ensure a favorable zombie rating, and can give you a chance of making it to the list of top 300 apps saving you from not becoming an instant zombie. Even the category of sports does fairly well in escaping from a zombie attack as they are location specific categories, and have very less competition in the app market as compared to others.

The relation between a zombie rate and category size is inverse because the smaller the size of the category, the better are the chances of your app to reach to the top 300 list. For example, if you have stepped into the market with an app devising weather, the chances of your appearing in the list of top 300 becomes brighter as compared to apps of other categories. Therefore, always target those categories, which experience less competition. Apple allows the developers to make through their app store after choosing from any three genres, so make a wise choice and help your app in escaping from the zombie apocalypse.

Choose the strategies focusing on App Store Optimization
The under-utilization or negligence of app store optimization or ASO can be determined by the increase in the number of zombie apps. The optimization of an app store is the major factor that can ensure an increase in the research of your app, and make it more and more discoverable.

Choose the genres, having less than 250,000 Apps
Your app may enter into the dead zone if you submit your app in the genres, having 250,000 apps or more than that. There are very few app developers who understand this, and list their apps in category lower to the above mentioned figure. For this, they also stay away from the category of “games” totally.

Localize the apps for small markets
The potential user base can be increased by localizing the apps in other popular spoken languages. For instance, in China and Germany the ecosystem of apps has a wider scope as both these countries release apps in their native as well as English language. On the other hand, countries, like Russia and Japan lead in releasing the apps only in their native language, the figure of which reaches high more than 1,50,000. Consequently, converting your app into these two languages can ensure you a favorable and better zombie rate. The ideology behind this is simple, the smaller the size of the market, the better is the scope of your app to get the chance to be in the app store listing.

App advertising techniques are helpful
The two advertising techniques known as cost per click and cost per install have become very popular these days. The role that both these techniques play is to market your app with the help of third party app by employing it. It accelerates the installation of your app among the users.

Take assistance of social media
There are millions of users active on social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. More than 520 million users alone are active on Facebook. With social media sites becoming a giant, promoting your apps through them is the best way to interact with the audience, and make a niche for your app. A fan page on any of the popular social website can surely ensure you an organic reach for your app. Paid engagement in the form of ads on social media sites is also a good option. Moreover, mobile campaigns are also a great way to attract users.

These techniques can help you out in preventing your apps from becoming a zombie one. The only concern here is to follow them thoroughly. Make sure that your hard work in the form of app does not get vanish in the crowd of millions of apps. Give it an identity by getting it listed on top 300 popular apps with these trouble-free tips.