1. Programming languages for mobile
Many mobile developer job postings seem to demand a prerequisite expert knowledge of every programming language under the sun. While you should treat those as more of a hiring wish list than anything else, it’s true that mobile app development often requires an understanding of a variety of programming languages.
It’s wise to become proficient in the languages most used in mobile apps first. Every additional programming language you subsequently master is another useful tool for becoming a better mobile developer, and understanding how your apps fit into a bigger picture.
2. Cross-platform development
Many development roles don’t have to worry about creating applications that will run across multiple platforms. You simply know the platform the code needs to run on and code for that.
Mobile app development is different. Your customers expect apps to run on both Android and iOS, which are developed in completely unique ways. Occasionally, you’ll also be looking at versions for Windows and macOS too, not to mention a web-based version that works in multiple browsers and browser versions!
Because of this, skilled mobile app developers know how to reuse graphics and code across platforms. They use a cross-platform development model and often take advantage of cross-platform mobile app development tools such as React Native or Xamarin.
Being able to see how you can reuse and rewrite code across a variety of channels is a key skill of being a great mobile app developer.
3. User interface and user experience
The user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are crucial to a mobile app’s success. A good UI provides functional interaction that feels intuitive, loads quickly, and is easy on the eye. This builds a UX that generates customer satisfaction, which can lead to people wanting to use the app time and again.
Mobile app developers spend time ensuring their apps are easy to navigate and feel good to use. This requires a solid understanding of customers’ tastes and preferences. Mobile app development specialists have a keen eye for UI design, making apps that are clear, responsive, and visually distinct.
Mobile apps rarely exist in a vacuum. There’s usually an accompanying website too, and often an application for Windows and macOS. Mobile app specialists must learn to build apps that offer consistent experiences that reflect people’s experiences on corresponding websites and desktop applications. This creates better user experiences because you meet customer expectations across multiple platforms, helping to grow the company brand and improve customer retention.
With all the sensitive information stored on users’ phones, mobile apps must be built with security in mind. Though there are certain safeguards on Android and iOS that minimize damage from malware attacks and malicious software, the onus is on the developer to securely store and transmit sensitive data.
A security breach can be devastating to any company. Knowledge of potential security attack vectors is an important skill to have for a mobile app developer. So too is a strong understanding of what constitutes secure code, and how you can make your apps safe from malicious users.
Mobile developers work at the cutting edge of technology. Beyond being technically gifted, they must be able to develop applications under pressure and to tight deadlines. Mobile app parameters are in constant flux as project requirements change, so developers should be adaptable and always ready to change code on the fly.
Adaptability helps elsewhere, too. Mobile developers often work in large teams and coordinate with departments that don’t understand the challenges of building mobile apps. Sometimes they work with marketing departments to discuss what’s possible from the new company app, while other times they’re required to share app development progress to clients and stakeholders.
This means mobile app development specialists need strong analytic and critical thinking skills, and be adept at problem-solving. Moreover, the best mobile application developers are highly creative, coming up with new approaches and ideas that haven’t been tried before.
This adaptability makes the difference between a good mobile app developer and a great one.
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