What’s a Multichannel Strategy?
Just ten years ago, desktop computers were the only devices that needed to be developed for. Today, though, we live in a world where a typical user will have a laptop, tablet and a smart phone. Users still expect their applications to provide consistency – they want the same user experience no matter what device they use.
That means designing your application, website or service keeping only one type of device in mind no longer works – when you try to open it on a different type of device, features won’t work and the interface will look tacky.
A multichannel strategy is designing your software product keeping in mind all the different devices and environments that your users may be using – in other words, creating from the ground up, a design and code base that can be used on all devices.
Why should you plan, design and build multichannel apps?
With the proliferation of mobile devices across the globe, designing any mass market product without keeping these devices in mind is a mistake that could be fatal for a product’s success. This will only become increasingly true as time goes on. A future where the average consumer’s largest computer is his phone or smart watch is almost here.
Statistics hold that claim up. Financial services company Morgan Stanley estimated that 50% of network devices had no wired port – in 2012. Today that number has grown even larger, with tablet adoption by enterprises growing each year by the same number. Mobile app development projects are expected to outnumber native PC projects by a ratio of 4 to 1 over the next few years.
With mobile devices now so widespread, it’s easy to see how a user can get irked by an application that doesn’t run just as well on his smart phone as on his laptop.
How will it help my business and my bottom line?
Using a multichannel approach for software development provides broad exposure to your product across multiple platforms without having to separately develop for each one. By developing for multiple target devices at once you are investing in a user consistent and enhanced user experience. Customers can use their choice of device without having to settle for a reduction in feature set. The added freedom renders higher satisfaction rate and loyalty with the product.
Focusing on multichannel product planning and design from ground up offers huge IT cost savings in the long run. It slashes code rewriting and makes IT less reactive to the dizzying array of mobile devices being released these days.
How does it work?
Given proper planning from the start, multichannel software development is often surprisingly uncomplicated. With the evolution of web development, modern web technologies like responsive design, HTML5 and CSS3 make web development for multiple devices a seamless and simple process. This is even true for more complicated online applications.
These technologies can also be used for ‘offline’ applications – meaning that the same UI can be used on multiple classes of device without a specific one having to be developed for each.
Multichannel development also involves using programming libraries and development kits that can run on multiple platforms, which are often time open source and the result of the thousands of hours of development by people all over the world – a very powerful product of modern technology working to help you increase how many devices your application works on.
Remember legacy products, there is a reason they are known as such. Products need to be proactively responsive to the changing landscape in hardware technology. Using multichannel software development strategy is the most effective and cost conscious way of being responsive.