ArcTouch identifies, addresses the 'human challenge' of app development

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Ex-Apple employees Adam Fingerman and Eric Shapiro founded ArcTouch, a San Francisco-based app development company, in 2009. Since that time, ArcTouch has created hundreds of apps for more than 150 clients, thanks in part to its comprehensive app development process.

How Does ArcTouch approach the app development process?

ArcTouch prioritizes building connections between people and businesses. By doing so, the company has helped clients deliver personalized experiences via mobile devices – something that is exceedingly important for developers and businesses worldwide.

Image credit: Localytics
For example, mobile engagement platform provider Localytics recently found mobile users said they will try a new app on average 4.5 times before they decide to stop using it. Localytics CEO Raj Aggarwal also noted the most common reasons that people stop using apps are that "they became bored with the app or they simply [don't] need it any more."

ArcTouch wants its clients to make the most of the apps at their disposal, and to accomplish this goal, it uses a step-by-step app development process to ensure its clients are fully supported.

Fingerman told FierceDeveloper that ArcTouch's app development process begins with the strategy phase, i.e. the period when the company will "take the idea for an app and deconstruct it, marry it with user needs, then align it with [the] client's business goals."

At this point, Fingerman said key members of ArcTouch's app development team will collaborate with a client to analyze an app from every angle.

After the ArcTouch team and a client get to the very core of the idea — the place where the user's value proposition and a client's business needs intersect — they'll "define the initial version (of the app) and the app's minimum viable product," Fingerman said.

"Typically, many of the big technology questions are answered during strategy – things like where the app's back-end will be hosted, what kind of integrations are required and what platforms the app will support," Fingerman said. "In the engineering phase, we're executing on the plan and inevitably knocking down the unique and sometimes unexpected technical challenges that arise with each project, one at a time. After doing this for eight years for hundreds of clients, we're pretty good at solving problems that arise."

Fingerman also stated that ArcTouch strives to incorporate client feedback during three key phases of the app development process:

  • After wireframes are sketched and a prototype is created, which ensures the ArcTouch team can capture user experience (UX) feedback before it invests significant time and resources in user interface (UI) design and engineering
  • After the UI designs are created and applied to wireframes, which enables the ArcTouch team to implement feedback related to the UI design's style and brand
  • After the product has shipped, which allows the ArcTouch team to use analytics and A/B tests to collect real world insights and apply this feedback to improve an app's performance

An ArcTouch client must approve an app update before it is released, too.

"Stakeholders need to sign off before we move to the next release. That way, as stakeholder expectations shift, the app shifts along with it," Fingerman said.

The "human challenge" of app development

The "human challenge" remains the biggest difficulty for ArcTouch during the app development process, according to Fingerman. Getting alignment from a client and its stakeholders often remains difficult, but ArcTouch overcomes this issue thanks to ongoing collaboration.

Fingerman pointed out the optimal team size consists of four to six ArcTouch developers who will guide a client and its stakeholders across app design, engineering and quality assurance processes.

Furthermore, ArcTouch emphasizes speed and agility with its project teams, ensuring its teams keep a client and its stakeholders involved throughout the duration of a project. 

"To keep those stakeholders engaged over the course of the project, we use an agile development process, with project milestones divided into short sprints. With each sprint comes a release – and a download is made available for all the stakeholders to review. We ask for feedback with each release and that feedback is incorporated into later releases," Fingerman said.

In addition, ArcTouch has used hundreds of design and development tools to create apps for clients and will work with a client to determine which tools will allow its project teams to create apps that meet clients' needs consistently.

The future of ArcTouch

ArcTouch boasts many globally recognized clients, including:

  • Audi
  • Sony
  • Symantec
  • Travelocity

However, ArcTouch has no plans to rest on its laurels.

Fingerman noted the mobile industry moves fast and continues to evolve, and the cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and other state-of-the-art technologies could create new opportunities for ArcTouch moving forward.

A recent study conducted by market researcher Evans Data Corp indicated more than 27 percent of all app developers globally intend to build new apps on the cloud, and nearly 67 percent said they planned to launch a new cloud app within the next 12 months.

Also, Evans Data Corp found 6.2 million developers are currently working on IoT apps, a 34 percent year-over-year increase.

Fingerman said his company has evolved since its inception and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

He pointed out the majority of ArcTouch's projects over the next six months will emphasize smartphones and tablets, but his company remains open to leveraging new technologies.

"Later this year, we'll likely see increasing demand from our clients to create experiences for other connected 'things,' from wearables, smart homes and cars to messaging bots and augmented reality," Fingerman stated.