Guided by simplicity

TEXT: MALIN NORMAN | PHOTOS © NEXT APPS

Despite the huge leaps forward in speed, technology and versatility, the secret to building a great app has remained the same. “It’s all about keeping it simple,” says Wim Van Buynder, co-founder of Next Apps.

“The most important thing for any mobile app is for the back-end to run smoothly and the front-end to be easy to work with, intuitive and user-friendly,” says Van Buynder. As a professional iOS app builder and co-founder of mobile app developers Next Apps, he knows what he is talking about. Together with co-founder Christophe Todts and partner Sander Versluys, manages Next Apps since 2014.

Throughout the company structure, approach and communication, simplicity is key. “Simplicity is in our DNA,” Van Buynder admits. “We try to capture the essence of a client’s request and come up with a simple yet creative solution.” Todts elaborates further and says, “Although we are a developer team, we are a partner in the process rather than just a supplier of software. This is where we add value to the project.”

A modern mindset

The young team of 13 has a modern mindset and is flexible to change of direction. Whilst a client may have an initial solution in mind, it usually changes after Next Apps comes into the picture. Instead of tackling the problem through a business only perspective, the team looks first at it from the end users’ point of view. “It mostly comes down to making things easy and understandable for the user,” confirms Versluys. “The solution might be technically complex behind the scenes, but it should not be reflected in the user experience.”

The team works with large corporate clients such as Barco and Samsonite, but also small start-ups with the ambition to make a real impact in the market. Most apps are either for new services or to streamline existing services, whether it is a Tinder for Jobs app for the Accent recruitment agency, or a complete app platform for car dealers and its customers like Mobo and Mobo Pro which allow customers to book appointments for maintenance and repair. “Dealers can streamline their booking and operation processes – which is saving them significant amounts of time and money.” says Van Buynder.

The future of apps

Next Apps also takes time to develop its own apps such as Colorcube, which became a big hit after Apple’s CEO Tim Cook mentioned it in his keynote in September 2016. The game was featured as Apple’s Free App of the Week, (out of the 25,000 that are published every week), resulting in more than 1 million downloads to date. “It’s a fantastic recognition of our skills and dedication, but more importantly it gives us valuable lessons and experience that we can use in our clients’ projects.”

Some experts are predicting the end of mobile, however Van Buynder is convinced that there is still room for growth. “I can’t see any new technology on the horizon that can overtake mobile. And although some people point to the rise of new technologies such as augmented reality, mobile will acquire an additional role as a central device to support new technologies and interconnect the digital and the physical worlds. As far as we’re concerned, it’s only just started.”

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