Step back for a moment and look at your life or your role within your company. You are a part of a larger system, responsible for input and output and some semblance of order for each. You have either been given or have sought out a set of tools to manage and execute your assigned tasks. You evaluate your existing tools constantly each time you encounter an issue and grumble under your breath or rave about how easy something is to use. Often, we search for better solutions for our personal and professional needs. Based on our knowledge of the tools available and, more important, those that are familiar, we develop procedures to fill these needs and move on, but what should we consider when looking for the best solutions?
In today’s mobile world, the way we determine what solution is best is very different from only a few years ago. Here are a few points to consider as you decide what technology will fill a need in your personal or professional life:
Modern and flexible – Apps that heavily rely on one particular software language may not pose a large risk, but heavy reliance on something like Flash would make iOS consumption difficult.
Mobile-friendly – If the solution is online-based, how does it look on a mobile browser? If the user experience is different, what functions do you lose on the smaller screen?
Appified – Is the solution available in app flavor? Is the functionality limited? Does the original developer maintain the app, or is the function available through a third-party developer? Face it––if the potential solution doesn’t offer a mobile option (and if it seems like this would be useful), smoke is in the air and you should yell fire and run the other way. An app version for most solutions is a given at this point, so if it isn’t available, think again about the ”future-proof” aspect of the solution.
Cross-platform – Not only does the solution have to play nicely with both the Mac and Windows operating systems, the application may also have to play nicely with mobile and tablet versions of Android and iOS, among others.
Backup – Does the solution offer backup? Can you point the application to a cloud storage solution––something easy like Dropbox, for instance––and will the app update its pertinent information (settings, application data, etc.) to the cloud on a routine or on-demand basis? In the day and age of lost and stolen mobile technology, the ability to recover quickly from backed-up data is mission critical.
Exportable – Plan for the future by making sure you can extract all of your data into a format that could be easily imported into a new application.
Offline capabilities – If you lose data connection, does the solution still function? Does it lose any key features or grind to a halt? From natural disaster to being trapped on the A line, we don’t always have the luxury of a data connection, and when it goes down, your level of stress will be determined by how the solution performs when you are off the grid.
Efficient data usage – Is the solution a Hummer or a Prius? In the age of the data meter running virtually everywhere, we have to be cognizant of how much data our solutions guzzle down. Is the solution built with a frugal mentality, or does it require lots of data to be transferred frequently?
Security – Does the solution offer security measures, such as encryption options and password-reset controls? While these measures may not to be required in some instances, in other areas where the transfer of information needs to remain confidential, security needs to be a big consideration. If the solution is for professional use, does it comply with your company’s IT guidelines and requirements?
Plays well with others – Some of the web’s best applications offer application programming interfaces (APIs), which enable other developers to make amazing solutions that tie in nicely to other solutions.
Others want to join in – If the solution offers an API, how many applications are available for the solution? How many unique developers are writing applications for the solution in question? These questions, which may seem like icing on the feature cake, may shine a light on the back operations and health of a solution.
Social – When applicable, the solution should tie in to the social web easily and share content using those channels in a well-formatted manner.
Author: John Carew