How To Start & Grow Your Business

6 Tips for Building a Lasting, User-approved Business App

Jessica Hawley
Feb 6th, 2017
  • Estimated reading time: 3 min read
  • Hummy's

    1How to approach app building for the best outcome 2Tips to achieve high user acceptance of business apps 3How to keep your apps relevant as the business evolves
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Path to Success/3d ecology concept, green grass and stairs on street Photo Credit: leszekglasner

There are few things that will waste more time and money, and quickly become a management headache than an online database app that is hard to use. If users must struggle through such barriers as relationships randomly created between tables with no logic behind them, forms that lack any kind of formatting, and rampant duplicate fields, adoption will falter and the solution will most likely fail.

A well-thought-out plan is the key to building business applications that not only solve day-to-day collaboration and process management challenges but are also a delight for your line-of-business team to use.  The following tips and advice are offered to help facilitate a successful outcome for all.

Begin at the End

While a little counter-intuitive, it’s best to start your planning with the end-result in mind. Great bakers know what they want their desserts to look and taste like before they begin adding ingredients from a recipe. Building effective applications with online database software< benefits from the same approach – it’s important to find out what kind of information employees need from the system to understand what the end result should look like before you begin to build out forms and other data input methods.

Diagram Tables and Relationships that Support the Desired Output

Using the reports as a baseline, you can often reverse engineer a strong schema for your table and relationship structure, which involves the passage of information about records from one table to the other. It’s helpful to use a process diagram to really nail down the right architecture, which is vital for transforming all the steps in a manual process into a working app.

Build the Structure of the App Step by Step

Everyone knows that a cake must be baked before it’s frosted, or if you’ve seen a new house being built, you know you probably need drywall before you can hang paintings. In the context of building an online database app, this means that you build your tables and relationships out first. It is important at this stage to double check that the plan you made matches the structure of your app before you begin putting reports on dashboards or playing with your forms. You can find a Relationship Diagram tool here to help.

Optimize the User Experience

Now that the data framework is in place, and the representation is built and ready to go, it’s time to put the polish on the application. Collaborating again with the actual users of the application gives them the opportunity to define exactly how they would like to look at things. Tailoring the view to their requirements also helps speed adoption.

Customize Reports and Dashboards

Closing the loop on Step 1 by bringing the output that you have documented to life can be an immensely satisfying moment. Often this can be done in a matter of days. It’s important to keep in mind that people may like to see things in different ways, so make sure you create dynamic reports that can address those preferences. Leverage dashboards and user roles to serve those reports up to the right people at the right time. From there, users can create their own personal reports when they need something even more specific, allowing you to step back and take pride in what you’ve created.

Don’t Stop Now: Keeping Your App Relevant as Business Evolves

After you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, remember that you can’t just walk away and forget about your app. Businesses change every day, and the last thing you want is for someone to be unhappy with the outcome, but keeping quiet about it.  You need to make sure this isn’t the case.  Adding a “Feedback” table is a great way to enable people to easily share their thoughts and suggestions for future updates.

You’re on Your Way

The tips and advice above can help you develop more successful and repeatable online database software builds that ultimately become popular “get work done” assets for your team.

About the Author

Jessica Hawley

Jessica is a marketing manager in the SaaS industry who enjoys writing about business advice, marketing and technology.