User interface squabbles the biggest slowdown for app development, report finds

“Mobilizing the enterprise” – that’s a refrain that large organizations have been hammering home for some time now.

For enterprises focusing on getting their apps up and running smoothly on mobile devices, that’s usually a good thing, especially as their employees and customers can get better experiences when they’re using their smartphones and tablets for work. But the real strain is on an organization’s developers and designers, as they’re the ones who need to work together to create useful apps – and sometimes, they can’t see eye to eye.

In a new survey from Kony Inc., a company helping enterprises build mobile apps, researchers polled about 340 people from large companies like Cisco, United Airlines, Walgreens, Qualcomm, Target, General Electric, and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. They divided up these respondents into two groups – mobile app developers, as well as designers for UX and UI.

Kony user interface
(Image: Kony).

What they found was that user interfaces were the biggest reason for developer and designer discord, with about half of respondents saying between 0 to 25 per cent of their projects don’t get the user interface approved in the timeframe required. Another 21.4 per cent of respondents said this is true for about 25 to 50 per cent of their projects, while 15.5 per cent were in the 50 to 75 per cent range. About six per cent said they were always late on every project, thanks to the user interface alone.

For app developers and designers working in a fast-paced environment, having a delay on the user interface can spell even more delays further down the line. About 33.3 per cent of respondents said when the user interface design is late, they get pushed back between 0 to two weeks, and another 34.5 per cent said they’re delayed by as much as two to four weeks. That’s a lot, considering the majority of respondents needed their apps finished within a timeframe of between two to six months.

The big reasons for these delays and setbacks? Change requests, with more than 80 per cent of respondents saying their projects get requests for changes to the user interface. And those often stem from communication issues with mobile app developers, once designers receive their prototypes.

Kony change requests
(Image: Kony).

Another big problem was collaborating with developers during the development cycle itself, researchers reported.

“In today’s siloed business environment, each team of app designers tends to use different tools and capabilities to create static assets that are usually not translated well in the development process,” they wrote in the Kony report. “This approach to app design and development creates inefficiencies and misrepresentation of the business use cases, due to the various hand-offs that take place at every stage in the software development lifecycle.”

As thorny a process as app development can get, developers may need to go “code-less,” they added, giving designers and line-of-business users the ability to create their apps on their own.

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Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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