The lead developer on the Netflix for iPhone mobile app shares some insights on what mistakes (and lessons learned) ensued from his experience launching the application.

ReadWrite Mobile covered a SXSW panel presentation from Kent Brewster, lead developer for the mobile version of Netflix for iPhone from 2009-2010, detailing the design and development efforts made during Brewster’s tenure at the company – and the lessons they learned. We figure there’s always something mobile app developers and brands can learn from the experience of others, and gathered some of the key points below:

Don’t take on a ridiculous deadline; tell your manager it is risky and unrealistic – site potential solutions – and demand help. Don’t allow a non-coder/technologist to make key architectural decisions; if it doesn’t make sense, fight back Don’t ship a prototype; in hindsight, Netflix should have built the app, tested it, and continually (iteratively) optimized it until they got it right Heavy use of HTML allowed Netflix to conduct significant A/B testing, as well as multiple overhauls without having to resubmit through the app store review process. Case in point: the first bug in the Netflix iPhone app was handled within 15 minutes of its discovery. UI mistakes included  attempting to replicate native scrolling using HTML, CSS and JavaScript; there are libraries now available that do a decent job at this. So check your resources – it it can be done easily by a pre-existing or specialized resource – consider it. Lastly, Brewster revealed how one can access Netflix for iPhone’s source code; a selection of slides from the presentation may help you find it.


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