With our handy guide to detoxing application development, we’ll give you some tips and advice about how to balance user experience, commercial gains and energy efficiency.
Why an app?
Before you start your journey of detoxing application development, it’s worth asking an important question; why an app?
Is a native mobile app the best format for your product and does it best meet users’ needs? Will you provide a complementary web app too? Or would a web app be a better option altogether? Who is the app aimed at and how will they use it?
It’s worth taking a critical look at the various technical formats available to make sure that a native mobile app will deliver the best experience to your users AND achieve your business goals. If it will, then the next question is how, where and when it will be used.
How, when and where
A really key aspect of detoxing application development is understanding your users. As a rule, your app should always cater for the lowest common denominator as far as connectivity is concerned.
If you’re creating a global app, consider users in developing countries who may have limited Wi-fi signal or cellular data. These users tend to be mobile early adopters, so they may be savvy users, but have limited mobile data to play with.
One of the secrets to detoxing application development is to capitalise on offline features. If users can access your app without the need for a Wifi signal or mobile data, this has multiple benefits:
- It’s more energy efficient
- Improves engagement as users can access it anytime
- Can unlock additional features that don’t depend on connectivity
- A USP from other apps that require constant connection
Keep it light
In the past, the makers of native mobile apps had a single goal; keep users engaged as long as possible. The success of an app was measured by how long users spent on it.
Sadly, this isn’t great for the environment and we’re learning that efficient user design is at the heart of sustainability. So when designing your app, it’s best to prioritise efficiency over dwell time. Design your app so that users gain value and can find what they need, quickly and easily.
The principle of efficiency applies to the weight and speed of your app. Remember that the more data you store, the heavier your app will be. Store as much data as you can in the Cloud and try to keep the app as light as possible. There are plenty of online tools that can measure your app’s load speed and make suggestions on how to optimise this. The lighter your app, the better it is for the environment.
Data could be your secret weapon when it comes to being more energy efficient. Use insights to identify patterns and trends in user behaviour, so you can find ways to improve efficiency and usability.
Set ethical KPIs
We touched on it above, but if you’re serious about making the application development process more sustainable, you’ll need to review your KPIs.
Do you measure the success of your apps by user satisfaction over commercial gains? Is sustainability one of your objectives? Do your apps help humanity and are they ethical by their nature?
Making the application development process more sustainable isn’t just about making your apps a bit lighter. It’s a holistic view of how to create beautiful apps that users love, with the least detrimental impact on the planet possible.
Ethical success of your apps is measured by:
- Efficiency over dwell time
- Net Promoter Score
- Your digital carbon footprint (what’s this?)
- Load speed
- Low reliance on Wifi and mobile data
- A smart approach to data storage
Where to begin
If your mobile or web app is already built and in use, it’s not too late to detox it!
You can identify quick wins to lighten the app, such as moving data storage to the Cloud and removing any unnecessary elements that may be wasteful. Reuse components where you can and try to design new features with reusability in mind.
Consider any new efficiencies you could introduce such as offline capabilities or quicker routes to value.
Remember, you can reset your KPIs to focus more on sustainability at any time, you don’t need to relaunch the app or dispose of it to start from scratch. Work with what you have and remember that any change is better than none.
In the next blog of our Detoxing series, we discuss how to detox Enterprise Website Design.
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Need some help?
At Digital Detox, sustainability is at the heart of all we do. We’re a human-led digital design and development agency working with organisations to create sustainable experiences that delight users and do minimal damage to the planet.
We can guide you through the process of detoxing your digital practices, with measurable results. Take a look at our Case Studies to see some examples of our work, or get in touch to discuss your goals and find out how we can help you achieve them!