So, you’ve mastered Quickbase and built a mission critical application to support your business operation. Now management wants to see how you take that functionality to the field and deploy a user friendly, secure and effective mobile version of some key functions.
The first thing you notice is that the native Quickbase mobile works pretty automatically, which is fantastic, but you might need to tweak it. You do this by creating custom “mobile” forms for your various user roles within Quickbase. The mobile form is a new feature and it really lets you have your cake and eat it too, allowing you to optimize your layout for both desktop users and the smaller mobile footprint. That might just do the trick and you will quickly be ready to deploy to your mobile users.
Additionally, new features like the ability to use the device camera to capture photos for any file attachment field and the ability to capture barcodes are really cool and useful too.
Sometimes that might not be good enough to satisfy the many unique requirements that people need to create truly intuitive or branded mobile experiences. If you’re feeling stuck, don’t worry, we’ve got some tips to help you understand what’s possible and how to move your project forward.
To begin with, here’s a quick list of application use cases frequently implemented on top of Quickbase with a custom mobile interface:
- Ticket Management Apps
- Barcode, QR Code and RFID scanning Apps
- Warehouse or Shop Floor tracking
- GPS integrations
- Signature Capture
- Photo Capture
- Field Service Applications
- Time Tracking and Capture
- EHS Incident Reporting
- Form and Data Collection Apps
- Construction Safety Briefings
- Tool Ordering
- Material Receiving
- Equipment Maintenance and Inspections
- File Transfer Applications
- Photo Collection Applications
More than likely you’ll need a Quickbase Solution Provider, some strong coding skills or an internal IT team to build your custom mobile application. But before you start looking for solution options, here are some important considerations to help you choose the right one:
- You’ll want a modern and customizable design to keep end users happy and be able to make changes quickly
- Consider whether Offline Capabilities are critical (i.e. will users sometimes not have internet access)
- What Custom Workflows will be needed to support the business process
- In addition to interfacing with Quickbase are other integration needed, such as SharePoint, Salesforce, etc.
- You’ll want a Responsive Design that look good and adapt to any device unless you’re sure all users will have the same hardware
- You will want greater control of branding for exposure to external stakeholders / customers.
- You’ll want to be familiar with the leading mobile approaches such Progressive Web Applications (PWA) technologies built for the browser vs coded “Native” iPhone or android apps.
- Make sure to consider Performance Requirements for loading as well as handling large data sets if required, especially handling lots of photos, videos or files.
- Think about how you will deploy the app to your users, do you need to register it on the app stores or a third party deployment platform
- Finally, it’s important to plan for Device Compatibility (iOS, Android etc.), keep in mind that the promise of PWA apps is that they work across all different devices.
Having queries regarding Quickbase? Don’t hesitate to schedule a call!
Once you are planning your project, you can organize requirements in these 6 Key Areas to assure you’ve covered all the bases.
Design and User Experience
It’s essential to make sure that the Mobile Application you develop is design and user
experience centered. Work directly with your end users and iterate the design to make sure the end user experience is clean, intuitive, and meets their specific business requirements. Use the new Mobile Form to get your native mobile apps looking their best. For custom apps you have the luxury of full control of the user experience, but it is a best practice to “Storyboard” your application by doing mock-ups of the user workflows.
Offline mode is most often required when it comes to mobile application development – the ability for employees in the field to access their mobile applications even when service
is not available. Most mobile development technologies (PWA and Native Coded) feature data caching and synchronization to support offline capabilities. Supporting Offline Capabilities means that employees in the field are no longer bound to using their devices only when service is available, letting the application do the work and sync data for you when service is available
Again. You also have to be smart about controlling when your device will sync and think about who wins if two different users edit the same thing. Usually Last In wins, but it is worth thinking through before you finalize your offline strategy.
The number of different mobile and device shapes and sizes is staggering these days. Having a mobile application that can scale and adapt to different screen sizes to make sure your application performs and looks good no matter what device it is being utilized on is essential. Even if your users all have the same device today, it won’t be long until new hardware gets rolled out and you don’t want to end up having to redesign in a hurry.
Newer mobile development technologies continue to come out to push the limits of application
Performance and response to user interaction. When planning your mobile project, it’s important to be aware of the latest tools and stay on the forefront of these mobile technologies to make sure you deliver the performance and speed your end users demand. Progressive Web Applications, API call optimization, optimized images, minified code, caching assets and data, use of image sprites are all techniques to help avoid slow loading and interactions.
Business processes and workflows aren’t rigid and trying to force these complex processes into off-the-shelf software that aren’t built for flexibility can be problematic. One benefit of a properly built mobile interface to your Quickbase application will be the ability to execute highly customized workflows for each end user requirement. It delivers on the promise that your business applications should support YOUR process not the other way around. As part of your planning it’s important to consider the expected work of each end user group and design the interface, buttons and functions to execute their processes as simply as possible and without opportunities for error. Again, Story-boarding is a key design tool to help support your workflows.
Designing and building your mobile app is the first big step but it’s not the only thing to plan. Effectively deploying a new mobile application to potentially thousands of users all over the world also takes some careful consideration. With native Quickbase Mobile, the users are all going to be invited via the normal Quickbase email invitation, so it is pretty straight forward and Quickbase has an app on both iOS and Android stores, but the users will have to load it. When it comes to custom coded native apps deployment can be hassle. You can go the traditional route of putting on the app stores, or user third party “private” stores to deliver the new apps to your users. A third option is growing in popularity and that is the Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) already mentioned earlier. These are typically deployed via a link within an email. Users, no matter what device they are using, all get the app the same way via a clickable link. At MCFTech we are fully sold on the benefits of PWA technology and have perfected its use with Quickbase.
Need help building a mobile interface for your Quickbase application?
MCFTech has extensive experience building both native and custom mobile applications. We pride ourselves on using the newest technologies to bring you modern, performance-centered, design-driven mobile applications to fit your specific business needs and workflows.