To determine the right mobile app architecture, a company needs to understand the following:
- Categorization of Key Features—The company can employ use cases in this process to determine the key features that customers require from the app. Then, the key features should be classified as informational, transactional, or device-oriented.
- Informational features are those where information is being consumed by a user, such as reading news on a subject.
- Transactional features are those where a user carries out a transaction with the application, such as sharing, buying, or downloading.
- Device-oriented features are those that enable a user to utilize device-specific features, such as using the camera or the gyroscope.
If a mobile app primarily has informational features, such as consuming news, then a web app might be sufficient. If, however, a mobile app primarily uses device-specific features, such as scanning codes using the camera, then a native app or a cross-platform app may be necessary.
- Type of User Experience Desired—If the type of customers a company is targeting for its app demands a high-quality user experience from the app, the best approach is native app development, followed by cross-platform development. The best user experience generally comes with utilizing the best that the operating system and the mobile device have to offer, which is what a native app can deliver. For customers who are fine with basic functionality, even a web app may suffice.
- Need for Multiplatform Compatibility—If the target market uses a wide variety of mobile devices and operating systems, it is important for a company to develop apps for each of the mobile platforms. Unless complex features are required for the apps that will require native app development, a company may be better off developing apps using a cross-platform framework or developing web apps. Where the target audience uses a limited range of devices and/or operating systems and requires complex features, native apps are the best option.
- Need for Offline Usage—If the target market has intermittent Internet connectivity, or does not use mobile Internet very often, it may make sense for a company to make an app, or important parts of the app, available for offline usage. If the app primarily acts as a means for a user to stay updated on news, offers, or other real-time information, then the need for offline usage will be much lower.
Once the mobile app development method is decided, the company then selects a specific mobile app development tool that should ideally fulfill all of the following criteria: