Some developers moving from Web applications to apps for mobile and embedded devices might be surprised by mobile devices' focus on the user experience. The needs and expectations of end users with mobile devices are often very different from users of traditional Web browsers.
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Generally, mobile users are intent on completing a single task. The way to optimize the user experience for this group is not to focus on a sexy graphical design or to add extra bells and whistles. In fact, while the former may hold some small advantage in a consumer market, the latter is more likely to be harmful in an enterprise setting. The way to win enterprise users is by giving them tools that simply get the job done.
At the recent JavaOne 2012 conference, we caught up with some of the leaders of the Oracle Developer Tools User Group (ODTUG). Monty Latiolais, the current group's president, and John King of its board of directors were nice enough to answer some questions about developing great mobile applications.
John King: One of the questions we were asked was about new form factors and how to move into the world of mobile or whatever comes next. I'd say, first understand the basics. Understand how the database works. Understand how the network works. Then get one of those devices and learn how they work. Become a power user so you can make the best possible application. Then learn about user experience.
Monty Latiolais: My advice would be for people to get plugged in. Attend conferences, such as Oracle OpenWorld and ODTUG's KScope. Join a user group. That's where you really get access to the latest trends, to the best practices and to the experts, like John King here
What is your advice for Java developers who are focused on user experience and [user interface] design for mobile applications?
King: People have to learn about user experience, and I think the key is to focus on the task the user has to perform. Then make your application as simple and as effective as possible at getting that task done.
Latiolais: For me, sometimes it's easier to spot bad design than it is to spot good design. Good design just works.