ATD Links Archive
Issue Map
ATD Links Archive
ATD Links

Mobile App Primer

There’s always an “app for that,” isn’t there? As technology keeps advancing, the idea of using mobile applications as platforms for primary training strategies becomes an ever hotter topic. You can find apps that allow you to manage courses and that have record-keeping abilities and even storytelling components. Just as traditional training programs must produce measurable results, though, so do mobile app solutions. It’s not enough for them to be fun or cool; they must provide benefit to your learners and the organization.

It’s no secret that most employees are more mobile than organizations, and they are certainly nomophobic—afraid of being without their cellular phones. As trainers, we can take advantage of our learners’ mobile-readiness but we also must be aware of best practices when designing or purchasing an app. 

Many apps have frills but miss the mark in accomplishing training strategy objectives.  If a mobile app is to become your primary training channel, you must have the proper design fundamentals in place so that the same transfer results occur as with traditional offerings. While colors and design are important, functionality becomes the key to meeting training strategy objectives. Whether you develop your own in-house app or adopt one already in use, make sure it is fitting for the trainee, operates as users feel it should, and is relevant for both trainer and trainee.

Some basic guidelines can provide the mobile app trainer with a pathway to meeting HR objectives rather than just recording HR items as accomplished. Keep in mind this mobile app primer when choosing or developing a new app.

Easy-to-use display. At first glance, the app must be an eye catcher. Beyond this, a trainee must be able to navigate from page to page with ease, as well as be able to make appropriate and necessary choices when prompted. The user must not lose productivity or be bogged down at any time.

Prioritization. A mobile training app must be designed to meet the needs and purpose for which it was designed. In other words, when a trainee goes to a training app to sign on to a course, this must be a top priority and one of the first things the user can find. Organizing the app in such a way that the trainee's priorities are equal to the way the app looks will improve its utility. Trainers can also use the app to link traditional training items, such as forms and records in the prioritization scheme, if needed.

Encouragement. While we want trainees to use the mobile app for training, we also want them to become somewhat addicted to its usefulness and continue to use it as source for their needs. Ways to create app attachment include sending instant messages, knowledge alerts, audio and video training messages, and special Internet links regarding the training subject. You should, of course, use your training app for the trainees to check in, sign up, get training certificates, and upgrade training topics.


Advocacy. Ensure that your trainees continue to provide support for your app and publicly make known its benefits. You want each trainee to become your greatest marketing tool. Your app should become the default source to meeting training needs, finding out about different types of training, finding the advantages of your training, purchasing courses, and answering any training question. The app might even serves as a training technical support help line.

New trainee acquisition. You want your app to be one that new trainees and employees will readily flock to. The app should have a good reputation, so that individuals new to the organization will have a desire to get involved.

Measurable results. The app should maintain and include tools for measuring reaction, behavior, learning, and results. Automatic feeds and evaluation tools should be built into provide prompt return of results to both the organization and employees. You can subsequently, use the results to build a better app.


Becker, M., Berney, P., Hanley, M., & McCabe, M.B.. (2016) Mobile Marketing Essentials,  

© 2017 ATD, Alexandria, VA. All rights reserved.

About the Author
ASTD Field Editor Carol Decker is an associate professor of business administration at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Tennessee; 1.423.746.5270;
Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.