Industry articles, Software

Mobile data apps – it’s about the Users!

You want to be a data driven company and use data for better decisions. When it comes to implementing a mobile 'work' application – it’s all about the Operators! People have become used to having apps to run daily lives- banking, ordering food, transport, so our 'work' apps need to be as easy as Facebook. Obzervr is a proven application for field data management.

First things first, consider –  why are you implementing the app in the first place?

Is it about making the lives of planners, schedulers and operators better? They live and put up with complex and legacy processes and a mobile field service application would help automate a lot of the administrative tasks in collecting field data (asset management, safety, inspections, samples).

Would it help streamline operations so these knowledge workers can focus on adding value to the business?

Is it about gathering quality, accurate and timely field data and making this data available to the broader business for more informed decision support?

It’s probably all of the above. So, figure out what NEED you are solving and then relentlessly focus on eliminating that ONE pain. That need is making the operator’s tasks simpler, faster and smarter. You can replace a paper process with capturing data on an excel spreadsheet…..that does not necessarily provide any of the needs defined above.

So how do you get there? There are some foundational best practices in user experience design when designing mobile apps. Know your users, test your designs, refine based on user testing… all these should be applied when working on mobility. Ensure you understand your users and the aims of the business, design the functionality around actual use cases and assume as little as possible.

Design for the “Immediacy of Now.” Users often have to quickly accomplish one core function at a time in a mobile app. Surface that function in an obvious way and make it simple. Design to support this user’s core need, and don’t add superfluous functionality that distracts from this core. Simplify as much as you can and design for a single, simplified experience that focuses on that core need. Instant gratification can be achieved with a progress bar on assignment tasks.

Keep context in mind. Whatever you are designing for a mobile device will be used “on the go” and you need to identify a “context model” that is applicable. Think about the context of use when creating a very simple stepped approach at data entry. For example: when would the user be using the screens? What will their focus be? How many of their hands are free? Are they using it outside in full sunlight? Do they have gloves on?

Packing content in a small mobile device screen is not only challenging, it’s a feat of user interface design. The way to go is focused content. You only need to have a clear focus on central content or task for each screen. The ability for people to use the business application with ‘one-hand’ operation will go a long way to mirror behaviour experienced with their consumer apps.

It goes without saying most people use their fingers to navigate their phones or tablets. True, the stylus/pen/pencil has a place in some instances, but generally people predominantly use their fingertips to navigate through the menus and action buttons even with these accessories available. So ensure the application is designed for touch.

Ultimately, if your PM Task or Mobile app is not easy to use and intuitive, adoption rates will falter.

If you are considering digital transformation for your operators or or need a field service app, let us show you what is possible! Contact Camilla at [email protected]

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