Part 2: The “Why” and the “Why Not”
If I counted correctly (I can count to 2, for sure), this is the second and last article of a two-part series. In this article, I write about the pros and the cons of each of the three methods for building a mobile app.
Typical Timelines for Mobile App Development Methods
The three major stages to most software development processes involve design, development (coding) and quality assurance (QA). The chart below attempts to show a rough comparison of those project timelines for an imaginary mobile app project that involves three platforms (iOS, Android and Windows) and the web. Based on past experiences here at meltmedia, the impact on time is shown by the length of the bar, as a percentage and in actual (imaginary) hours. Actual miles may vary, of course.
We’ll refer to this chart in each of the three sections below. For the sake of having numbers that we can wrap our brains around, our project chart up there shows (vertically and by color) the three main segments of a typical application development timeline: Design (orange), Development (green) and QA (blue). The imaginary “Native App” project has three tracks (iOS, Android and Windows) of 250 hours each (62.5 hours for design, 112.5 hours for development and 75 hours for QA), totaling 750 hours for all three platforms. The “Hybrid App” project will total 550 hours. The imaginary “Mobile Web App” project (the bottom track) will take 250 hours total for design, development and QA.
I haven’t met a designer yet who didn’t know at least a little about color theory. It’s a great tool to have in your belt when you’re working with anything visual. But what tools do you use to generate your color scheme, and what about when those colors are handed off to a developer?
LESS is a CSS preprocessor developed by Alexis Sellier (aka cloudhead). At meltmedia, we use LESS for the majority of the websites we develop. It’s quite a powerful tool, and speeds up development significantly. For this article, we’ll focus on LESS color operations. You can use the color operations to dynamically create just about any color scheme you’d like.
Part 1: The “How” and the “What”
It turns out this topic of building a mobile application is difficult to write about. In our experience at meltmedia, all the methods discussed below have their merits and their caveats. In reading around the blogosphere and web-o-whatever-it’s-called-sphere for more opinions, I’ve found that there are many great discussions about building mobile apps and even more opinions and defenses for each of them. After all that, my answer to your question, “Which method?” remains the same: “It depends.” Today, for you only, that advice is FREE.
This first part of the series describes the methods by which mobile apps are built and gives some familiar examples of apps that use those methods. The next article will look at which method might work best for your project by examining the benefits and caveats to each method and other considerations in making the best choice.
Let’s get on with some definitions, shall we? There are three major ways to build your mobile app: Native, Web and “Hybrid.”
Native Mobile Apps
Recently, we were invited to talk on a number of tech topics at a small in-house corporate conference, mostly geared toward mobile web and apps. One topic for which I gathered information was a list of the latest technology trends I thought this audience (brand management) should keep an eye on.
To make sure this tech trend list wasn’t just my singular world view of trendy tech, I searched a number of sources online and compiled a unified list of about 26 of the most mentioned techs I found. I then had our illustrious and tech-savvy team here at meltmedia check off the items in that list that they thought were truly trending tech for 2012. I compiled the results and wanted to share them outside of that conference.
The best part about this list is the title of ten words which fits it to a T: The Two Thousand Twelve Top Ten Tech Trends To Track
The argument between whether the web is dead and mobile apps will reign supreme or vice versa has been a hot topic lately. My recommendation is to forget this argument for now. The web and apps are here to stay over the next few years and the discussion should be focused on what does this mean for your business. I see the following innovation cycle, described below, continuing to occur over the next few years. Understanding this cycle will help drive your mobile strategy.
Arguing over semantics is pointless, right? Not when it comes to your markup. Semantic HTML is a crucial skill that many junior website-makers ignore. Using smart, semantic markup will make sites more future-proofed, more accessible, friendlier to search bots, and much less headache-inducing for the human side of the matter.
What Is Semantic HTML?
What does it mean for markup to be semantic? It means that your markup tells a story. HTML is not just a series of elements thrown together on a page; it needs to represent the meaning of the website. Remember junior high when you had to make outlines with endless roman numerals and headlines for organization? That’s how your HTML should feel. Every element should represent something real– not something merely for presentation. And if it doesn’t, find a better way to write it.