Posted by:Ranjani Rao February 19th, 2014

The process of “Requirement gathering” or “Requirement analysis” is the first and crucial phase of any SDLC process. This sets the stage for the subsequent phases. It is at this phase that the assessment of the business goals/objective that an app is required to meet is fleshed out.

While the process of requirements analyses for mobile as well as traditional desktop applications may be on similar lines, there are additional “mobile-specific” considerations that go hand-in-hand with small screens, device features and constraints, and connectivity issues.

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A typical web application user interface platform differs from the mobile user interface platform in many ways:

  • Interaction techniques
  • Context of use
  • Number of items that can be grasped at a glance

The approach that best works for a mobile specific requirement analysis can be broken down this way:

  • Like with any usual requirement gathering approach, the first order of business would be to understand the goal of the app that is to be built.
  • The next important step would be to identify the user personas who will be using the mobile app. For example, let us consider a healthcare app where the target user personas would be patients or healthcare professionals. It is imperative that the target audience is kept in mind during requirement analysis, so that the app can be designed in line with the requirement of the end users. Analysis should consider the end user’s mobile behavior, what features would help them while being mobile and also what frustrates them most while being mobile. This stage is about fleshing out the different scenarios that the app would be used to meet the business goals while “on the move”.
  • Mobile apps come with a perennial challenge of space constraint, and therefore it is extremely critical to prioritize those features of the app that are core to meeting the primary business goal of the app. Being succinct is the order of the day.
  • Another important mobile specific consideration is the review of all the mobile devices that should support the app like phone or tablet as also the device orientation most appropriate for the app in question. For example, a landscape mode makes an easy choice for data rich apps.
  • An important difference between a desktop/laptop app and a mobile app is context. Context refers to the conditions of app usage like multitasking, motion, and connectivity. A frequent scenario encountered is intermittent mobile connectivity and app features appropriate to support such conditions have to be well thought of at the analysis phase.
  • Another challenge in mobile requirements is building the process to withstand change.Mobile apps have to function keeping in mind vastly different user interfaces and input methods with great variation in target platforms. However, this is not a much sought after scenario in the desktop requirement space.

Effective requirement gathering sets the tone for the app success. Answering key questions like the goal of the app, the target audience and context for use will lead to user fiendly, functional apps that achieve what they set out to do.

In what other ways do you think the mobile requirement gathering process differs from those for traditional web applications? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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