26. Juni 2014 14:20 von Jens Bothmer (Kommentare: 0)

This article is also available in German.

Graphic Design Pattern Library

Why adding a Design Pattern Library to a Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms increase the efficiency of building apps

The number of privately used apps is steadily growing. According to Statista, Google Play hosts 1,000,000 and the Apple App Store 1,200,000 apps. We are at a point where employees can't go without smartphones and apps. So the devices can be used for business purposes just as well. That's the reason why many companies are mobilising their processes.

The number of mobile business solutions will grow from 12 to an average of 17 applications per company next year. 1)

Pioneers quickly realised that this new business app landscape does not only bring benefits. It also comes along with security risks as well as huge costs in maintenance. IT departments worry about the devices' rapid development and the fact that every important application has to be produced for at least two operating systems. Besides this, the ease of use needs to match up to other apps' level. Only then they are accepted and bring the desired benefits for the company (see box).

Benefits from providing mobile solutions and services 2)

  • increased flexibility and mobility for employees
  • faster decision-making processes
  • increased productivity/efficiency of employees due to improved IT use
  • improved cooperation with clients and partners
  • location- and time-independent access to business applications
  • increased employee satisfaction
  • improvement/simplification of existing business processes

> But only an increased usability leads to the application's success.

 

It is not surprising that the companies invest in standardising measures, including so-called "Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms" (MEAP). The technical development, integration, deployment and management of apps are accelerated. But what do those platforms do for acceptance, usability and an overarching user experience (UX) – which, according to Forrester, is the core of every mobile strategy?

„Business success is always defined by the quality of the overall customer experience.”

At worst, the platforms are a restraint and reduce the level of User Experience to the lowest common denominator. On the other hand great UX design for every single app leads to chaos and technical effords. But Standardisation apply even for interface design. We call thiskind of Standardisation Design Patterns. Every application is based to a great extent on reproducible modules which differ only slightly from app to app. Views, input masks and overviews can be created flexibly from a small amount of elements. Navigation and information architecture also follow certain patterns that often are set by the operating systems. The problem: in most cases, there is no documentation of these standards. And thus the same problems are solved over and over again and for each app time a bit differently.

Design Patterns set standards in Customer Experience

Using Design Patterns tells a different story. A library with documented solutions to defined problems forms the Design Pattern Library (DP-Lib). Just think of a LEGO kit. The standardised components can easily be combined in order to create an individual and user-friendly application. The IT department benefits because they are able to prepare for the Design Patterns used beforehand, the designers benefit because they can work off the routines faster. Thus the Design Pattern Library complements the goals that are pursued by implementing a Mobile Enterprise Application Platform. The DP-Lib shouldn't be considered as a static construction, of course. This open documentation system can be fed with test results, technical requirements, codelets and the experience gained from prototyping and existing solutions.

Graphic Design Pattern Library MEAP

A Design Pattern Library can become the core of the Mobile Enterprise Application Platform.

A Design Pattern Library evolves over time into a solid and accepted knowledge base which provides all parties involved with valuable support. Buildung such a library can take place gradually from organic growth. But we experienced that the DP-Lib is accepted more easily if it provides patterns from the beginning. The initial filling of the library ensures "quick wins" and demonstrates the speed and flexibility using it. The time gained may be spent to extend the DP-Lib and adjust it to the company-specific features (workflows, processes). As agency for digital design we offer the Design Pattern Library as service package. It includes an analysis and a documentation of already exisiting Design Patterns, an initial filling as well as a complementary training of the employees working with it.

From overarching User Exerpience to a Corporate SDK

Developing new applications will change fast and permanently with the DP-Lib. UX and technology become more closely linked. Agile processes like SCRUM and KANBAN can benefit from that, for this knowledge base can be readily shared and accessed. Standardisation of software development is strengthened by the integration of Mobile Entreprise Business Platforms and Design Pattern Libraries.This is a worthwhile target, even more so against the backdrop of a steady acceleration in app development ("time to market").

A presentation introducing the topic Design Pattern Library is available for download here. For questions, suggestions and comments regarding the subject, please contact Jens Bothmer (XING) or Felix Guder (XING) at any time.

 

1) see also Statista
2) selection of the most important aspects for mobile solutions, Source: IDC, 2013 n = 276 decision-makers in IT and other departments of companies in Germany with more than 100 employees

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