5 Tips to Convert a Desktop App to a Mobile Device App

August 13, 2014

Smartphones and tablets are a dominant traffic source for online businesses. If you search for desktop versus tablet metrics, web analysis companies tell you that the web is shifting from desktop browsers to mobile device browsers.

For this reason, you can improve company revenue by creating an app for mobile devices. If you aren't sure where to start, here are some design and marketing tips for the conversion.

Design for Touch and Not Mouse Clicks

Unless you've never worked on a smartphone or tablet, you already know that mobile apps work on touch and sliding finger movements. Desktop applications rely on mouse clicks and keyboard usage.

The difference is a major part of mobile device design when you want to create software similar to your desktop application. You might need to change some application flow when you create an app for mobile devices to cater to the difference in user interaction.

Create Bigger Fonts for Smaller Screens

Smartphones have small screens, and it isn't as easy to see certain fonts. Font size and typography are important when moving your app from the desktop to mobile devices. Light print is hard to read on a smartphone, so you might need to change fonts and typography.

The best way to identify a need for a font change is to create a sample page with the current font and display it on a test smartphone.

Pass the smartphone around to different people and ask them if it's hard to read the content. You might be able to use the current font if you bold it, but the font still needs to aesthetically work with the new mobile app layout.

Consider Slower Bandwidth Speeds

High resolution images are great for fast Internet services on a desktop, but your mobile device users don't have this luxury. Your images must be resized and resolutions reduced.

You also don't want too many images on one page, or the page takes too long to download.

For local phone apps that don't use the Internet, you have limited space for storing your code. Reduced images avoid taking up too much space on your customer's mobile device.

Place Some Computing Power on a Web Service

Most people need some kind of web service, so the mobile device app can "talk" to your web server or internal applications.

Web services lets your users look up product prices real-time, create orders, contact you from a form submission and browse your site's dynamic content.

You could simply create a mobile, responsive website, but it forces users to use the Internet to find your site. Instead, you can create an app that calls a web service that reduces the amount of resources needed on the mobile device.

Using a web service reduces the chance that your app will crash the device due to memory usage.

Keep It Simple

Nothing is more frustrating than a confusing app from a designer who doesn't code for users. You have more space to instruct users on a desktop application, and most users are more familiar with a browser than customized controls on a mobile device app.

Keep the design simple and intuitive for users. Avoid layouts that are too cluttered and don't properly convey your message.

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These five tips can get you started with your application conversion, but you still need patience and the right coder for the project.

The best way to start the process is to create design documentation that highlights exactly what you need and your business requirements.

If you have a successful desktop application either on the web or for local devices, take time to think of the right design before releasing a mobile app that can frustrate and turn off potential customers.

by on August 13, 2014

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