|Will Russell showcases ChemGoggles|
In Wednesday’s parallel session Apportunity Knocks, Will Russell, Manager of Innovation and Technical Development at RSC Publishing provided an overview of their approach to develop mobile apps for their members. They started their mobile timeline in 2010 with Chemistry World (mark 1) following in the same year with Publishing Platform and ChemSpider mobile sites. In 2011 they launched RSCMobile, ChemSpider and Chemistry World (mark 2) mobile apps.
They believe the future is multi-device so their aim is to be device independent. The mobile market is large and still growing with app usage time exceeding mobile website usage. In this landscape, browser-less discovery is key.
They aim to keep customer needs at the heart of what they do.
Chemistry World now has a full mobile app to respond to reader demand. They have optimised content for smaller handsets, but it is more like reading the magazine on a tablet. ChemSpider 2010 had a mobile optimised website but has now moved to the ChemSpider Mobile App. Why? Because of the mobility of scientists. Whether in a lab or at a seminar - you can put content in their hands. They have received great anecdotal feedback at conference: people speaking positively about ChemSpider because of the app.
They keep the strategy and products under constant review. Developments to consider include APIs that will generate the most useful apps with your/our content and the use of information available free of charge to create apps such as UK Government Data.
Russell reflected on some of the challenges they have faced:
- number of new devices and variety of functionality set on each one
- testing on devices (availability)
- supporting devices and staff training
- app store approval
- on-going future maintenance - more technologies than just a hosted website.
He concluded with some advice. Make your approach to apps part of your digital strategy - not separate. Think about what it offers over a mobile website. Release on one platform first and limit the initial approach on delivery: wait for customer information to help you prioritise what is being asked for and what works. Keep a close eye on KPIs, ROI and analytics. Understand that separate mobile websites may not be scalable. Think about how many devices and screen sizes are you going to need to support in the future. Other issues to consider include:
- for usage: it’s not as simple as reproducing the website
- how can you support others to build apps?
- impact of support for app development
- traditional channels still serve the highest usage
- we will never have such a long period with the same interface again - in two years we could be talking glasses in the mainstream.