Posted by Samuel Nudds on 06 May, 2020
About the author:
Samuel Nudds is a Senior UX Designer at Future Platforms. Here, he shares his experience about good mobile app architecture and why it’s important for a successful user experience
App architecture is the fundamental foundation of building a successful product.
Before we dive into looking at app architecture, let’s first highlight why it is important. The driving force behind anyone downloading an app or choosing a particular service is that they have specific tasks they want to complete. These come in all forms; some are small and others are much bigger and more complex.
Think about all the different uses of the apps on your phone: you can book a train ticket, order food, and pay bills all from the comfort of your couch. Whatever the task, the app’s architecture should support users in completing it easily and efficiently.
We often underestimate its importance, but did you know that most apps fail due to poor architecture? As well as making it difficult for a user to navigate around an app, bad architecture also drastically increases the time of development, which ends up costing businesses more money.
Many years ago, I worked for a startup company that was trying to do far too much; building features upon features without aligning the app’s architecture to a clear, unique selling position or goal. This resulted in poor user retention and in the end, the app failed.
Now, having a complex service or multifaceted product isn’t a bad thing but if your users can’t understand what they’re expected to do or how to navigate their way around an experience, then they’ll simply stop using your app and find an alternative service.
What is mobile app architecture?
To put it simply, mobile app architecture is a set of techniques and patterns that are to be followed in order to develop a fully structured mobile application. These can be based on industry- or vendor-specific requirements. The structure of the application consists of layers; one of the most popular multi-layer architectures is a three-layer which consists of:
1. Presentation Layer
The presentation layer consists of the user interface (UI) components and the UI process components. It’s what we know as the front end of the app, and it’s what displays the contents and information that the user interacts with. Basically, it’s the “face” of an app.
The UI components provide the mechanism through which users interact with the application.
2. Business Layer
The business layer represents the core functionalities and flows of the app, and determines the business logic. In short, this includes workflows, business components, and entities that lie beneath the hood of an app.
For example, when ordering from Domino’s Pizza, you can’t order a pizza where the company doesn’t deliver. This means that Domino’s needs to know your address prior to ordering, so a user needs to first enter a postcode before choosing a pizza.
3. Data Access Layer
This layer provides simplified access to data stored in persistent storage of some kind. It is created from the combination of data utilities, data access components, and service agents. This layer meets with the application requirements and facilitates secure data transactions. As this layer works with the requirements of the app, it means that it should be developed in such a way that it could be scaled in the future if business requirements change.
An app’s architecture should support users in completing tasks easily and efficiently
Why is architecture important for a successful app?
A successful app architecture supports users to achieve their tasks. It’s then the app’s navigation that creates the path through the app architecture. Having good architecture ensures the application landscape is scalable, reliable, and manageable.
This means that if business requirements change down the road and more features need to be added, or amended, then it would be easier to do so.
Important factors to consider
Designing good app architecture is crucial to the success of your mobile solution. Our team of experts suggests keeping these essential factors in mind when designing yours:
1. Determine the device type: some categories to keep in mind are screen resolution, size of the screen, CPU characteristics, memory, availability of development framework, and storage.
2. Consider bandwidth scenarios: there are times when connectivity is either intermittent or not available. Your app architecture needs to be built keeping in mind the worst network scenarios.
4. Choose an optimal navigation method: the ease of navigation is a crucial aspect. There are numerous ways to navigate through app features; it is important for you to analyze which one will work for your mobile application.
Example of good app architecture
While we can’t look under the hood of Uber’s app and see their full architecture, we can still learn from their app experience and the way the user journey is structured. What is impressive about Uber is the speed and ease with which you can book a car. Uber allows you to book in only two taps!
In order to do this, in the presentation layer the business leverages smart techniques to front-load a lot of the user’s steps, including surfacing saved and recent destinations, and pre-selecting the tariff and the payment method.
What is clear is that they have structured the app in such a way that ensures an effortless experience for users completing the primary task, which is to book a car from point A to point B. All other features are secondary to this main experience and are out of view behind the hamburger menu.
Why architecture matters
The app architecture is the backbone of any mobile app and plays a crucial role in the growth of an app’s market.
Whether you are a developer with a firm grip on mobile app development, or you are a client hiring a team of app developers, ensure that the entire flow is followed religiously.
Future Platforms has a team of experts that can help you choose the right architecture for your app. We have endless resources on how to get your mobile app right. But if you wanted help specific to your unique businesses needs, you can also book a free consultation with us today.
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