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Breakpoint 2023: Building Mobile-First

Josip Volarevic discusses key considerations for mobile-first development in the 2023 digital landscape.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!

Summary

At Breakpoint 2023, software engineer and founder of dReader, Josip Volarevic, offers insight into the decisive factors technology developers should weigh when considering a move towards mobile-first projects. Amidst the growing predominance of mobile device usage over traditional computers, Volarevic addresses the question of whether applications need to be mobile, and if so, how to approach the development tactically, keeping in mind user experience, budget constraints, and target audience. He also sheds light on the rising relevance of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) in comparison to native mobile applications, as well as discussing the unique dynamics of fundraising within the Solana ecosystem.

Key Points:

Why Consider Mobile-First

Volarevic starts the discussion on the necessity of mobile-first development by highlighting the increasing dominance of mobile devices in digital consumption worldwide. He points out the mobility and portability of smartphones as intrinsic factors that have pushed them past laptops and desktops. This shift prompts developers to think critically about whether their apps need to be accessible on the go, suggesting the compelling litmus test of whether users would engage with the app in various everyday situations, including while in the bathroom.

What and How to Build for Mobile

Choosing to create a mobile app involves decisions on a myriad of parameters such as platform choice (Android or iOS), theme (dark or light), orientation, and even the target blockchain, if applicable. Knowledge of the target audience, budget, and team capacity plays a vital role. He shares insights gained from developing dReader, a platform for digital comics, emphasizing the importance of user interface considerations and how users interact with their devices.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) vs. Native Apps

Volarevic advocates for Progressive Web Apps as a strong contender for developers with limited budgets or mobile development expertise. He explains the benefits of PWAs, which can deliver near-native app experiences without the heavy investment typically associated with mobile app development. However, he also notes challenges with PWAs, such as the lack of push notifications on iOS devices and lesser security compared to native apps.

The Role of Fundraising and Market Release Timing

Josip speaks candidly about the challenges and misconceptions surrounding fundraising within the Solana ecosystem. Despite popular notions that more funding equates to success, he emphasizes that user reaction is the ultimate judge of an app's value. He warns against the rush to publish underdeveloped apps, which can lead to user disapproval and app abandonment, drawing on a case study to illustrate his point.

Facts + Figures

  • Mobile devices have surpassed laptops and computers in daily usage time.
  • The reader has been in development for 15 months, with full-time work commencing recently.
  • Social, gaming, communication, and entertainment apps are the leading categories for mobile apps, based on average weekly time users spend on them.
  • Audience demographics and behavior critically inform decisions in app development, evidenced by the development of dReader.
  • PWAs offer a cost-effective alternative to native apps, giving a full-screen app-like experience within a browser.
  • Approximately 10% of applications on Google Play Store are established to be PWAs.
  • Transitioning from PWA to native app is suggested when advanced features and better UX/UI are required.
  • Funding does not necessarily guarantee mobile app success; projects without significant funding have still reached the Google Play Store.
  • The number of helpful downloads via the Solana DApp Store, despite not having a fully developed version 1 of the app, showed 200 downloads for dReader.

Top quotes

  • "Because mobile addiction is much better than the PC addiction."
  • "Will your users use it at a toilet? If your users would use that on a toilet, that's a good ground for a mobile app."
  • "If you don't have enough budget, if you don't have enough capacity or you don't have a mobile developer, you're going to go for progressive web apps."
  • "You should definitely check out for Google Play, but with Apple Store, lower your expectations."
  • "50% of applications that are published on Google Play Store severely lack user experience, they have even the basic errors."

Questions Answered

What is the significance of mobile-first development?

Mobile-first development is imperative as mobile usage has surpassed that of traditional PCs and laptops for daily digital activities. This trend underscores the importance for developers to build apps that users can readily access on their mobile devices, anytime and anywhere, including while using the toilet—a humorous yet practical indicator of an app's necessity for mobility.

Why might a developer choose to build a Progressive Web App (PWA) over a native app?

Developers might opt for a Progressive Web App if they are constrained by budget or lack specific mobile development skills. PWAs can deliver a user experience similar to native apps without the substantial investment and can be accessed through a browser, making them versatile and accessible across numerous platforms, although they do have limitations with certain functionalities on iOS.

How important is fundraising for the success of a mobile app in the Solana ecosystem?

Fundraising in the Solana ecosystem is not necessarily a determinant of success. Despite the association of funding with project viability, the real test of an app's success lies in the market's reception and user feedback. Therefore, while various opportunities for fundraising exist, developers are encouraged to focus primarily on building a robust and user-friendly product.

When should developers consider transitioning from a PWA to a native app?

Developers should contemplate the leap from PWA to a native app when they are ready to incorporate advanced features that PWAs can't support, such as push notifications on iOS or when there's a need to heighten the user experience. Native apps can offer more comprehensive functionality and security features that PWAs may lack.

What factors influence the decision on when to release a mobile app to app stores?

The decision to release a mobile application should balance the urgency to enter the market with the need for a polished and well-functioning product. An app lacking essential features or containing basic errors can result in user dissatisfaction and app abandonment. Feedback from an accommodating community, like those on the Solana DApp Store, can be valuable before full-scale general release.