Building a killer mobile app is as much about tapping your creativity as it is about having your ear to the ground. It’s why, more and more, IT professionals, developers, and even CIOs are going beyond their cubicles and boardrooms to physically interact with stakeholders. They want to understand their users’ pain. Whether your mobile app users will be your own employees or consumers, getting to know their challenges can help you design a product they'll use.
What do employees want?
Employees want apps that enable them to do their jobs easier, quicker, or better. Putting yourself in their shoes can help you see how mobile technology could enable work and relieve stress.
Take DISH Network for instance. The direct broadcast satellite company provides all its field installers with a Samsung Galaxy Note, which includes a satellite finder. The Note fits into technicians' cargo pants, so the risk of forgetting it in the truck is low. This idea came to developers after they stepped into the shoes of a field installer and experienced what it's like to install a dish on the roof.
What do consumers want?
Pre-development focus groups are a great way to find out what consumers want. You'll be surprised at what people have to say–both good and bad.
Mortgage companies for instance, believed that homebuyers are keen on being fully involved in completing all of the paperwork in the mortgage process. But focus group discussions and surveys revealed that many consumers find the process stressful and the paperwork painful. Mobile apps that break the mortgage process down into simple steps and keep homebuyers updated have been inspired by this discovery.
In fact, as a result of real estate app developers actively soliciting consumers for information about their pain points, there are now MLS apps that track new for-sale listings, map homes by region, and point out recent sales as users drive through a neighborhood. Interactive apps also provide users home assessments and compare the cost of buying to renting.
Putting yourself in your users' place is key to coming up with an app that solves their problems. But remember: Usability is just as important as addressing your users’ pain points. Mobile apps must let users accomplish their tasks in quick and easy steps. If your app is not intuitive, there's a good chance it will not be used.