10 essential ingredients for great enterprise apps

PocketApp's Paul Swaddle outlines 10 essential elements that can help developers create more than just a good business app, but a great enterprise mobile app.

Smartphone and other mobile devices often present unique development and design challenges, especially within the world of business. Sometimes apps see great success while others fail and often the winning apps have a common theme; each one contains similar elements in their design, usability, purpose and more. After analysing many successful enterprise apps, I have created a list of what I believe are 10 essential elements that can help developers create more than just a good business app, but a great enterprise mobile app.

The customer comes first

This might seem like an obvious point to start with but it’s one that needs mentioning none-the-less. Whatever app you create needs to be focused on the user first rather than the data available. So, for example, if an employee is looking for any available desks to work from, rather than simply providing the user with a search box where they type and find out the information required you could implement a floor plan with colour-coded desks to indicated whether they are free or not allowing for a much faster and user-focused experience.

Easy access info

A common problem in a workplace is how long it takes to access the right information. To increase efficiency in the business it is important that your employees have timely access to accurate information. Great enterprise mobile apps are designed to give the user immediate access to relevant information, as well as the ability to see related and relevant information — all with a simple swipe or tap of the finger.

Make the best use of what you have

On a computer it makes sense to use a keyboard but on a tiny phone screen using a virtual keyboard can feel cumbersome. Thankfully that’s not your only way of interacting with your phone as you can slide, tap and even use a gyro sensor in some cases. The best mobile apps take advantage and prioritise these features on smartphones.

Keep it focused

It might seem like a good idea on paper to make one app that does everything but in practice an app like that will become clunky and unfocused. A great enterprise app is focused on something specific and brings out all its qualities rather than trying to be a jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

It needs to look good

A decade ago the colour of business was very monochrome, and everything reflected that. While it may look safe and thus professional it can also feel very bland and boring. So, in the present day many of the more successful enterprises have added some more colour and design to their image, and this includes in their apps. When the app is visually appealing it keeps the attention of its users, just make sure it isn’t cluttered and hard to understand.

Moulded to the business

When making an enterprise app it’s important that it isn’t too distant from the business itself. This is a problem with using off-the-shelf apps as they are designed for everyone and so will not be fitted to any specific business. This makes it passable, but a great enterprise app is designed as an extension of the business and connected to every facet of it. The apps should feel like a family member and not just a guest.

Full customisation

In the same way that every business is different and enterprise apps should be modelled to them, every employee is different as well. A great enterprise app allows for its users to customise the experience to themselves. Different teams will have different priorities within the app so if they can access their relative sections quicker (via tags or some other source) then all the better.

Easily get feedback

Feedback is vital for improvements in the workplace. The only way to learn what works and what does not is from the users themselves. At the same time you can lose a lot of productivity or have employees ignore the feedback form entirely if you were to send it via traditional means, like e-mail. But a great enterprise app will have a feedback feature within the app itself, either through a survey that notifies the employee when available or automatic feedback that measure what aspects of the app are the most popular.

Focus on value, not gimmicks

It’s easy to look at what the competition is doing and try to take a slice of their pie but it’s not always the best option. Great enterprise apps are focused on the value these apps offer to the business rather than forcing on unnecessary gimmicks just because it’s the flavour of the month. Doing the latter often leads to a lot of unnecessary spending for little back.

Keep it going

The final point is that just because your app is out doesn’t mean that work on it is over. Continued support of an app with bug-fixes and content updates is needed to improve your app and keep it being used in the long-run. It is much more efficient to update the existing app that employees have downloaded and grown use to then to release a new app that will start everyone again from scratch.

By effectively implementing these ten points of app development and design your business app will have all the makings of a great enterprise app. What helps is that all these points are flexible to your app needs. If your apps focus is on booking rooms for meetings then these points are still valid, and the same is true if your app is all about finding specific pieces of customer data. These ingredients are all flexible and with them you will be on the right track to cooking up an amazing enterprise app for your business.

Paul Swaddle is the CEO of Pocket App.

Praseeda Nair

Kellen Rempel

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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