onsdag 30 mars 2011

Mobile application design & development

Two students of mine recently presented their respective masters' theses. They had worked together & in parallel and their theses complement each other neatly.

Both theses were excellent, but as the topics are slightly peripheral compared to my main research interests (nowadays), they will not be listed under the "finished-theses" tab in my companion blog (a blog with suggestions for thesis topics). I instead post this text as well as links to the theses themselves (pdf documents). Do note that these theses are both written in Swedish.

Johan Alexandersson's thesis is called "Mobilapplikationsutveckling till smartphones - hur utvecklingsprocessen kan förbättras" ["Mobile application development for smartphones - how the development process can be improved"]

Andreas Blackne's thesis is called "Mobilapplikationsdesign: En utvärdering av designprocessen för mobilapplikationer till smartphones" ["Mobile application design: An evaluation of the mobile application design process for smartphones"].

As master's theses go, I think both of these are impeccably done. It was a pleasure to be their advisor and the process went like a breeze. Most readers might want to stop reading here, but I anyway append their abstracts below in the case someone has a special interest in this area.


Abstract to "Mobile application development for smartphones - how the development process can be improved":

The development of mobile applications for the new generation of mobile phones, also known as smartphones, has become a worldwide phenomenon, not least in Sweden. Many companies have realized that this market is growing for each day and has therefore chosen to broaden their activities in this area. There are also many companies whose sole activity is to develop mobile applications. The problem is that this still is an unexplored area for many companies. For this reason, they still haven't formed any well-functioning work processes to use during the development. Instead, they use complex processes that, in fact, are suitable for development of software.

The difference between traditional software development and mobile application development is that the mobile application development projects are completed in a shorter amount of time, and that there are a fewer amount of people involved. This is something that the companies have forgotten to take into account when they designed their own development processes. The goal of this study has therefore been to develop a new approach that is better suited for this type of projects. The new approach will also describe which steps that should be included in a mobile application development process, and the order in which steps should be performed to achieve the best results.

This study is based upon interviews with people from ten Swedish companies. All the interviewees have different responsibilities, but are in one way or another involved in the development of mobile applications in their company. All the companies have basically told the same thing, both regarding their current situation, and how they would like their future situation to look like. For this reason, it has been easy to determine which parts of the development processes that can be developed and improved. It has also been easy to determine which parts of the process that is directly unnecessary for mobile application projects. The mobile platforms covered in this work are, iPhone, Android, Symbian and Windows Phone 7.

Abstract to "Mobile application design: An evaluation of the mobile application design process for smartphones":

New ways of interaction produce unprecedented problems in use. Therefore, especially for ground-breaking technologies such as the smartphone, it is important to design usable user interfaces allowing users to interact with the device in an easy, efficient and satisfying fashion. Additionally, the production of mobile applications is still a fairly undeveloped field, leaving great room for improvement in order to produce better designed mobile applications. The aim of this study is to, through conducting qualitative interviews with people operative within mobile application production, evaluate how the design process for mobile applications can be improved and/or made more efficient. The results of this study show that the design process is—amongst other things—determined by the nature of the company and how design centered they are. Moreover, the results show that there, for most companies, exists a lack of thinking in terms of design, resulting in shorter design processes, which, according to the study, primarily stems from limitations in time, money and knowledge. The conclusions of this study demonstrate that the design should be performed by people with adequate skills in interaction design to ensure a high level of usability and a good user experience. The design process should also be given enough space in the agile methodologies characterizing modern software development..

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