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12 Things You Can Do to Get Your Portal to Production Quickly: Part 11 – Don’t Forget Mobile

Two years ago I wouldn’t have said that mobile consideration is a key component to getting to production quickly.  Why the change,  especially if you are not intending to deliver your portal to mobile channels?  The answer is you inevitably will and if you don’t design upon and implement a mobile capable architecture now you will have to undertake a major re-write later.   Here are a few supporting statistics to back up the importance.

  • Nielson reports as of May, 2011 38% of US mobile phone owners have smart-phones.
  • Gartner says over 100 million smart phones were sold worldwide in Q1 2011.
  • Gartner predicts 95 million smart phones will be sold in the US in 2011

Very few consumers buy smart phones without expecting to be able to use many of the features, especially mobile web browsing and downloadable applications.  If you develop a mobile-unusable consumer facing portal, you will quickly alienate these users.  Does this mean you need to mobile enable your portal with the very first release?  Well probably not, but when the time is right to get your mobile portal to production quickly, here are 8 things you can do to get your mobile portal to production quickly.  And as I often do, I will slant a little bit towards some approaches that are specific to WebSphere Portal.

  1. Leverage Mobile Themes in WebSphere Portal.  This will allow you to implement device or browser specific ui presentations independent of your regular themes and skins.  With most smart phones standardizing on WebKit based browsers, it is easier than ever to build cross device capable themes.
  2. Be forward looking with your services.  When you design services, think about whether they might be needed by mobile devices or presentations.  The more you can reuse your services the better off you will be.
  3. Don’t underestimate testing.  You need to test across multiple devices.  You must start testing early or could be left with quite a few defects caused by inconsistent rendering anomalies across devices.  Emulators are available for virtually any phone but you should still try some testing with physical devices.
  4. Get an experienced senior developer on your team.  If you don’t already have a very strong mobile developer, find one.  This is the same principal as my post for using an experienced core team.
  5. Make sure you have an experienced analyst.  Mobile capabilities are very different than traditional web as they are very action oriented and situation based.  It is important to have someone who can educate both business and IT on the different approach you must take.  This is often best driven from an analyst.
  6. Provide ramp up time for your developers.  If you haven’t done a mobile project before make sure you provide some extra time for your developers to get up to speed.  The concept here is similar to my post for ramping up the team.
  7. Use an agile methodology.  A 12 month mobile project will not work.  The industry and trends are moving way to fast.  You need to get to market fast and quickly react to changes.  An agile project methodology is the best development methodology for mobile.
  8. Get the right tools ahead of time.  Mobility requires a different set of tools.  There are many development tools out there that could warrant another blog series on their own, but if you want a little more information see Mark Polly’s recent post on FlashBuilder vs Web Experience Factory.

I could go on with many more in this list but these are some of the key success factors I’ve seen existing customers use on their mobile portals.  Check back tomorrow for the last post in our 12 part series, 12 Things You Can Do to Get Your Portal to Production Quickly.

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Glenn Kline

Area Vice President, Custom Development and Mobile Solutions

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