The traditional methods used to define and develop desktop applications won’t work with mobile application development, according to research firm Gartner Inc. As demand from business units puts increasing pressure on IT organizations to deliver large numbers of mobile apps, development teams will need to employ practices that are different from traditional application development, the firm says.

“Enterprise application development teams use traditional practices to define and develop desktop applications; however, most don't work with mobile app development, due to device diversity, network connectivity and other mobile-specific considerations,” Van Baker, research vice president at Gartner, said during a presentation to IT leaders in China recently. “Instead, [application development] managers should use functional, performance, load and user experience testing, as well as agile development practices.”

Users find it challenging to effectively describe what a mobile app needs to do, Baker said. As a result, the traditional practice of having a business analyst meet with the mobile app end users to define requirements for a new mobile application normally fails.

There are several reasons these efforts don't succeed for mobile applications, even though they've worked historically, Baker said. For one thing, mobile apps are a new category for most users. For another, mobile apps are constrained by the nature of the platform and the size of the screen, so porting the workflow of a mature desktop app is not viable, he said.

“Finally, the experience associated with mobile devices is significantly different from that of desktop devices, including shorter session lengths and limited presentation, due to screen size constraints that affect how mobile apps need to function,” Baker said.