Its daunting starting any GIS Web or Mobile project. Where does one begin? In this post we provide a 5 point checklist for any GIS Web or mobile project.
1. Project Requirements
Do you have a clear idea of what the app should do? A detailed list of requirements is essential. If you are still in the ideas phase, flesh it out before you reach out to any external GIS development company. Be prepared to discuss in detail your requirements, and answer any questions posed by prospective development companies. Be clear to describe the purpose of the application.
2. Target Audience
Any Web site or mobile app is targeted at a specific audience. Is your application for GIS power users, or consumers? GIS is now serving a wider audience than was once the case. From applications providing interactive maps for citizens to find local amenities; parks, water access, polling stations, to workforce focused application for data collection, or retail site analysis. Any GIS application need be carefully designed for the target audience.
3. PC, Mobile or Both
Is the application for use at home or in the office on a PC/laptop, or for mobile users? If mobile should it be targeting smartphones or tablets or both?
There are many ways to build GIS applications. If this is to be a Web application, there are ways to build it so that it looks good and is use-able on PC’s, smartphones and tablets. This is a really nice way to provide a seamless home or office to mobile experience. For example, a GIS app which provides routing information; on my PC I can plan my trip, then switch to my smartphone or tablet when en-route to provide guidance. One obviously need be careful in taking this approach since not all apps lend themselves well to both PC and mobile use, but this is a nice way to provide a user friendly experience across devices.
4. Mobile App – Web or native, Apple, Android or Both
There are many things to consider when developing a mobile application. First, is this to be a Web application accessible from a mobile browser, or an installed application maybe sold in Apple’s iStore or Google Play? If it is to be an installed mobile app, is this an application which is targeted for use on an iPhone, iPad, or Android device? Maybe targeting only one platform is too limiting and you want to the GIS app to be cross-platform, so available to both Apple and Android users? Knowing your target audience and their preferences will help guide this decision.
Can you visualize how the app should look and feel? At the pre-development phase you certainly don’t need detailed designs of each page of the application. But you do need to have a rough idea of how the application should look, and maybe more importantly the workflows. This is a term often used to describe the flow of the application; when I click this button where does it take me, and does this make sense to a user? Think about Google maps. Theirs is a very simple design. With directions option to left side of the page and base map switching and overlay options to the right. The site is intuitive and easy to use. Your Web or mobile app should be the same.
Do you have an upcoming GIS Web or mobile project? Contact us for a free consultation.