Archived Blog

All the old blog posts, written from 2008 to 2017

The Lean Startup Mobile Tool of Choice is PhoneGap

As the CEO of a Lean UX HTML5 design and develop shop, the teams I work with only use JavaScript for all our web and mobile development. We use AngularJS, Ionic and PhoneGap for more than a quarter of our business engagements and we have more than 45 JavaScript developers in-house working with these technologies. With all of our project partnerships, we’ve accumulated a lot of insight into why PhoneGap and Cordova are so compelling for mobile projects.

In this blog I’ll review one of our early projects with Sprout Wellness Inc, to highlight the strategic reasons for adopting the PhoneGap/Cordova technology for any exciting Lean Startup project. PhoneGap turns out to be the best strategic choice, both in a traditional economic sense and in consideration of the team’s skill-set.

Rangle X Sprout

Your Typical Challenges

Building a mobile application is challenging, but for an existing startup with many different goals and priorities, it’s even harder. You often don’t know your market from a mobile first perspective, and your preconceptions from your existing user-patterns on your website won’t get you a successful outcome. There is a reason that brands don’t often get a good user experience with their first application - they don’t realize they need to learn. And the mobile project is so large and so expensive, that the internal demand is to get it right in one shot, and often no opportunity to iterate and learn.

Sound familiar? You are seduced into a waterfall approach by thinking you understand mobile due to your understanding of the web, and you were sold waterfall under the guise of UX design.

The solution? An approach that leverages your existing skills and assets, ships faster, accelerates learning, and doesn’t paralyze your future learning and progress due to the chaos of multiple codebases and teams.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to do this with native applications. They are too expensive, but more importantly, they demand a waterfall process that typically looks like this:

Building Applications the Wrong Way

  1. Hire an agency
  2. Do detailed UX without running code to create a real MVP application with real users
  3. Build the app complete on iOS
  4. Ship on iOS, and start building Android app
  5. iOS results are poor, start planning updates while still working on the Android app
  6. The next release, instead of being 2 months after launch is now 6 months after launch
  7. The chaos results in buggy applications and a poor user experience
  8. All hell breaks loose. Fire the agency. Start again.

After doing this 3 times, companies typically succeed after spending ten times more than they needed to. Sometimes companies get carried away with yet another new redesign, then hire a new agency and the madness is once again triggered.

Instead Build Your Applications the Right Way

So, what’s the solution? A cross-platform solution that can leverage your existing assets, allows you to ship fast and iterate seamlessly across all platforms. The solution is PhoneGap

One of the great features of PhoneGap is that it allows you to leverage assets already being used in your regular application development including:

  1. API design and JSON
  2. Angular service code
  3. Design assets such as icons, graphics, color schemes, and CSS
  4. Your existing team members’ skills
  5. The available skillsets found within the hiring market

Today’s mobile web ecosystem is so strong that you can achieve the functional and aesthetic goals of almost any application with PhoneGap. The more important factor in your choice is speed-to-market, the freedom to learn and iterate, and leveraging the existing assets you have.

Overcome the Obstacles Intelligently

Lacking some of the skills necessary to pull off a hybrid mobile app? There will be challenges, but a good partner will get you the platform and initial success needed to build your own team and continue to deliver successfully through to the completion of your project.

Sprout Wellness Inc. partnered with us so we could help them build the mobile app version of their corporate health and wellness platform. With their clear goal of getting to market quickly across all platforms, and creating an amazing user experience, we were able to build and deliver an impressive application in a few months.

Watch our video to see the app in action

Together, we overcame all the common challenges in the shifting mobile landscape such as supporting older phones, collaborating with a partner, and achieving near-native performance.

To learn about all the lessons from Sprout’s impressive mobile application project download the case study by visiting our website.

Nick Van Weerdenburg is the founder of the leading JavaScript and Lean UX firm dedicated to helping startups and enterprises move to the modern web. Find Rangle on Twitter: @Rangleioand Nick, @n1cholasv.