App Building Fleur 26 Feb 2013
Is there a difference between developing an app and building a website? A difference? That’s putting it mildly. Building an app using AppMachine means a small revolution in the designer world. Creating an outline, wireframing, obtaining approval and embarking on the coding process, all these are now things of the past. Thanks to the smart technology, you can build a prototype and go from draft to end product much more quickly.
As any website builder will know, you first need to get the green light for your design and navigation before you set off coding. Subsequent changes invariably result in a lot of additional work. So when you build a website, you first create comprehensive outlines and/or wireframes and only then get cracking with the code. With apps, it’s a different thing. Just like websites, apps are designed to be displayed on a screen, but that’s where the comparison ends. While it is possible to create an outline for a website, this is not feasible with apps for two technical reasons.
First of all, apps are controlled in many more ways than websites. With most websites, only a single action is expected from the user, namely a click, with the occasional scroll. Whereas with apps, the number of interactions is substantially greater: users can swipe, tap, double tap, tap and swipe, zoom, tilt, hold — you name it. Moreover, all these interactions will have a different impact on what is happening on screen. Plus, users can switch between portrait or landscape orientation. Now try getting this across to your customers in a simple outline …
The second reason why the functionality of apps cannot be conveyed using outlines and wireframing is animations. Apps are intended for screens that are much smaller than a regular PC screen. For this reason, they often use animations: menus that slide or scroll into view, pages that smoothly merge into each other with various different transition options. You won’t be able to show this in an outline, not unless you are extremely handy with a pair of scissors, glue and lots of paper.
In addition, when you build an app, you have to make choices continuously: you change the content, select a menu etc. These choices have a major impact on the way the app is used. For this reason, it is imperative to test apps on the devices they are intended, namely smartphones and tablets, which may run Android or iOS. Only in this way can you gauge the actual usability and have your app tested by third parties.
So to publish a perfectly working app, you need a fully operational prototype on your smartphone. Creating a prototype is usually a time-consuming affair. Not so with AppMachine, which enables you to immediately build a fully operational app. There is no need to explain how the navigation works in the end product, since you can generate the end product in the blink of an eye. Anything you create during the development stage you can directly check on your smartphone using the AppMachine Previewer, which you can download for free from app stores. Would you like to reconsider and modify the navigation or layout? No problem, just modify it in the CMS and check the Previewer to see if everything is according to wish.
During the development stage many people may follow the development process, depending on the principal. You can now show them exactly how your app works. Friends, colleagues, clients, the Marketing and Communications staff — anyone can use the Previewer to have a peek and experience how your app actually works. You can create a copy of your app and add another main menu or lay out the features differently. This takes up very little time, since you do not have to do any programming work. AppMachine has already taken care of it for you. Moreover, if you are happy with the end result, you do not have to enter into a long production cycle — your app will be ready immediately. The prototype is your end product and ready for publication. That’s how AppMachine puts ‘building apps faster’ in an even higher gear.