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By Chris Parker (CoolExperience) and Erik Jan Bijvank (FONK mobile)

This article is for executives in the business and technology domains who feel they need to get into the mobile application game, however are concerned (rightfully so) that there is a steep learning curve and many bear traps along the way. From our experience in developing mobile strategies and applications, the three words that executives need to keep in mind throughout the entire process is: Less is More.

All the lessons that executives have learned during traditional technology developments and projects still apply.  Don’t forget all the painful lessons you have suffered through in the past, all of that still applies.  However, do it on a much smaller scale. Mobile is not monolithic.  It is a long journey of baby steps, and can be a lot of fun.  Remember: Less is more.

1. Go Experience Mobile

When do you use a Smartphone or tablet? You will find that you use them in different situations during the day, under different circumstances. You won’t be able to understand the possibilities of mobile without experiencing it yourself. It is not something you can read in an article to understand. If you don’t have a Smartphone or tablet, go get one now and start using it. Use lots of different apps.As you are experiencing mobile yourself, start developing your dream of which single moment-of-truth for a specific target segment could be an interesting place to start. Keep a list of your ideas.

2. Partner selection

It might sound odd to select a partner at this stage, but when you have a rough idea of what you want to do with mobile, you will need someone who has been down the mobile journey before.  One of the key reasons to have a partner is so they can challenge your thoughts and ideas, and manage the thought process to keep you from expanding the scope. Remember, Less is more.  They should ensure you aren’t just duplicating your website, and they will bring special design skills that you probably don’t have in house.

3. Strategy and business case

Your first mobile development is probably an experiment, and it should be just that.  Less is more.  Keep the budget small and focused.  You should be prepared to throw away this piece of work, but you will be investing in your knowledge.  This is a process you will be going through for the rest of your career if you are doing anything with mobile. Things simply move too fast.  You will need to update your application constantly and there will be new opportunities.  Keep your strategy short and sweet as well, as at this point you don’t really know the possibilities, so the strategy needs to be documented enough to ensure that you are doing less (not more).

4. Make a rough concept

Before anything is developed, make a concept on paper which allows you to see if your first ambition is respecting the less is more philosophy.  It should be focused only on the single moment of truth for a single target group.  Keep it simple.

5. Let them design

This is an exciting part of the process because the executive is not involved really at all.  You can be if you want to be, but realize that a designing process can start out really ugly.  Less is more applies here as well, have less expectations in the beginning, but be confident that they will come out with something wonderful in the end.  Just make sure that the designers are focusing mostly on user experience and respecting the white space.  Less is more applies to content as well.

6. Now it’s time for testing

Your development work must be using an agile approach, so you should be able to see bits along the way to ensure they are on the right track.  Make time to really look at the work and give them feedback, as this will result in less is more in regards to rework.  Let them adjust on the way.

7. Set the app free

When it’s time to release, you will have seen the app many times, and probably have given beta versions to trusted customers (do this, it’s a fun experience to share something so cool and special, and customers love to be involved).  This is the one stage where less is more does NOT apply – it’s time for champagne!

8. Value the Customer Experience

You’ve built a great application which is focused on doing one thing right, and it was developed really well by people who know what they were doing.  You can trust that it will get the job done for the customer.  However, we recommend to at least do some monitoring (less is more, but more is better in this case).  Check to see how the users are consuming and experiencing the app; what sort of feedback are they giving. If you listen closely, you will probably realize that they are using the application in ways you never imagined.  If you aren’t listening and looking, you will lose the chance to harness this feedback and energy.

9. Now do it all over again

Keep the updates to a minimum if you can, people get irritated if an app is constantly asking them to update.  However, you will need to keep revising the application, and remember that list of ideas you made while using the iPhone, revisit that and start all over again.  Maybe you need to build the same app for another platform, if someone has actually asked for this.  Maybe you need to add another functionality to this app to make it more wonderful for your customers.  Maybe you need another app altogether to serve another moment of truth for another target group.  Just plan it in your agenda to be reviewing your mobile ambitions for the rest of your career.

FONK mobile is dedicated to creating inspiriting, solid and exciting mobile applications and works with CoolExperience to make sure the right moment of truth for the right target group is selected.  We believe less is more. 
chris cv pic black and white
Chris Parker specialises transforming organisations to embrace Customer Experience disciplines with a passionate focus on the role of technology. He is a member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and the Global CX Panel of expert speakers and works with various affiliated organisations to create value for your business.