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How to Build a Mobile Team

How to Build a Mobile Team

  • April 24, 2012

Build a Mobile Team Today

You're more likely to succeed if you ask yourself a few crucial questions before you hire.

As mobile devices become the primary way more and more people interact with the web, companies need to organize and manage teams that can deliver a superb mobile experience. The skill sets you need for these teams tend to be different from those you assemble for desktop applications.

Before you seek out excellent individual contributors who can work together as a team, you need to ask yourself some questions. There are several questions to ask, but these two may be the most important:

Q: Why do you want to build an app?

Be clear about your goals. Is there a crucial website feature that mobile customers need? Are you trying to hold off competition? Was there simply a directive from upper management that you need one? Determining specifically what you want to get from a mobile app will help you sketch out your ambitions -- and figure out your budget -- more easily.

Q: Why do you want to build it this way?

One of the big upfront decisions a company has to make about a mobile app -- before assembling a team -- is whether to build a native app for a particular hardware platform, a mobile website that works on all device browsers, or a hybrid app that does a bit of both. Know from the start where your customers or employees will be using your app.

Now you have the information to decide what particular skills you need on your mobile team. All clients have their own internal infrastructure and different budgets, notes Aquent's Heather Young, but they can also make generalizations. Here are her recommendations on the ingredients of a successful mobile team:

  • A user-experience person with mobile background. This is important because we interact with mobile apps differently from how we interact with laptops or desktops. This person will know what users anticipate. Often, this person leads the team.
  • A visual designer for mobile, someone who understands user-centered design and has done it before.
  • Someone with mobile front-end development skills, such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Much of the time, the designer can play this role.
  • If you are building a full app (not just a web version of a website), you need a software developer who knows the platform.

Aquent's Erika Oliver adds that companies need to look for collaboration skills as well as technical ones. "You need someone who can liaise between IT and other departments. And if it's a native app you're building, you also need someone with experience submitting to an app store."

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