Apps vs. the Web

Matt Legend Gemmell at Instinctive Code has a very well done article about the use of web applications on mobile devices. Specifically on how these levels of abstraction can impact the end users interaction and experience with the content.

Apps vs. the Web

Clearly there are benefits to placing this content on the web and allowing a multitude of devices to be able to quickly and easily access this information; but this is difficult for enterprise based systems with a high amount of interactivity. Content formatting and the functionality of interaction is dictated completely by the browser of the client system. The loading time of images and amount of interactivity on a form based application can make the browser sluggish, or prompting a long load time between pages. Many times you end up with a visual that generally resembles the as-developed system, but never quite completely. The customer experience of your content is out of your control.

Matt sums up his post with the following:

"Apps feel designed. They feel tailored, and special. They're lean-back, on-the-go, crafted, targeted things. The immediate extension of these properties is how at home they feel. We've all been pointing our fingers and hissing for years at the app that just wasn't at home on our platform. An intruder in our midst, often from that worst of all possible worlds, cross-platform."

Matt's comment sums up our approach to tablet use in the enterprise - and a large reason for our excitement. When we look at processes and types of interaction that our clients are having with their customers, our goals are to reduce and eliminate these "frames of interaction" as Matt discusses. Our applications are built specifically for these layers to disappear completely - that the device in my hand is single purpose and it's built for the purpose I need - not buried in these cumbersome layers of extraction. When executed correctly, the idea that this device does anything else other than my specific application is lost. Forgotten.

Application based content delivery on these devices bring a lot of benefits: Application response is immediate - with sub-second level transitions to the next step. The heavy lifting is done on the device: Graphics, logic, transitions, submittals, while the text content is still pulled from web services, able to be modified easily and efficiently. Long lists of items, which are typically broken into 1-25, 26-50 type pages on the web can be hundreds of records long on an iPad - easily navigated through a flick of the finger, or the typing of the initial letter.

When looking at Application design, our goal is to always try for the interaction to be forgotten. Our application should not need a help menu or require the need for tooltips and navigation descriptions. It needs to be intuitive to the point to the point of completely forgotten. Through these methods, we're quickly able to build that connection between the customer and the content - which is the only layer of interaction we're ever really concerned about.

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Eric Carlson

Partner at Propelics
Eric is a seasoned leader with a keen eye for emerging technologies. He is well respected in both technical and business circles, due to his ability to match up the right amount of technology "geekiness" with business understanding to craft truly unique solutions. As a seasoned executive, with startups through successful exits to his name, Eric has the experience to advise companies on the discipline and objective approaches that are needed to turn ideas into reality. Eric can be reached at eric.carlson@propelics.com or on twitter at @ericjohncarlson.