formats
Published on July 28, 2013, by in marketplace.

In previous posts we have been discussing how easy it is to take your own ideas, find a developer and begin bringing it to life. This is most certainly the most common method I utilise within all of my mobile applications, however recently I have been intrigued by speeding up development with completed app products.

Enter Chupa -  The Market Place for Mobile App Components 

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 12.05.43 PM

 

In recent months, I have acquired the source code for 3 mobile apps via the Chupa website. In most cases these have been full applications that simply require a change of the graphical assets before they can be distributed onto the store under your account. This relatively easy process, makes it possible to launch an app for a limited price. Here are a couple of the apps I have secured using this marketplace.

Easy Task Tracker 

The source code for this app was purchased for $99.99. My intention for the code was to utilise it as a component inside of an upcoming mobile app which is going to include a task manager feature, however given the minimal expense I decided to release it as an independent app called ‘Easy Task Tracker’. Before release I simply modified the icon and came up with a new suitable name that would compliment that rest of my apps. Although I make Easy Task Tracker a FREE app, its the amount of downloads and redirects to my other apps that Im interested within.Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 12.16.56 PM

WeatherColours

The following app was purchased for $110 with the full intention of reselling it within a number of months. As a result the app is listed as FREE with it receiving thousands of downloads.

CalculatorPal

This app was bought for $40 and listed without any changed to the icon or design scheme, all I had to do was change the app name and it was ready for action. To put it simply this app has been designed to compliment one of my existing apps ‘CurrencyPal’, with both apps becoming a package that will be sold via Apptopia.com in a few months time.

 

So as you can see, it is most certainly possible to fast track your development with the purchase of acquisition of source code.  With a relatively low price of entry, you can get your app portfolio started and begin attracting customers. The apps can be sold for profit, or used to direct customers to your paid products.

 
formats
Published on April 11, 2013, by in graphics.

All of us have grown up with following the popular adage that we should never  judge a book by its cover. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to apps and in particular app icons. In an earlier post I discussed the importance of designing a striking and truly eye catching icon.  This is the first impression users have as they scroll through the over 700,000 apps currently on the market.  You want it to stand out and scream “DOWNLOAD ME”.

My App Icon Lesson

During the development of one of my apps, I was somewhat oblivious to the importance of a great icon and subsequently released thedownload
app with the icon to the right. While it got some of the aspects of a good icon right, including a subtle communication of the apps purpose, it resulted in an unprofessional look that didn’t really prompt a user to find out more.

After releasing the app I had already begun to think about what I could do to make it look more professional and as such, this lead to me thinking about an improved icon. I chose a colour scheme that was a little more

download (1)likeable and relevant to the app, and sought to improve the icon with more detailed graphics. The eventual version 2.0 icon resulted in a 15% increase in the downloads within the first 3 months, which could in part be attributed to a more professional look. However even with this in mind, the icon was far from perfect. Extra detail was left somewhat useless given the app store size of 57×57 pixels, which made it virtually impossible to see.  The other problem was in the choice of colour which simply blended into a very crowded app store.

 

For the 3rd and final version of the app icon I chose to drop the name from the icon, which was entirely unnecessary and blocked Sports Rules - 512blocked most of the  Finally the use of the word “Sports Rules” was overpowering and needed to be dealt. This led to the designer and I working towards a more subtle and memorable way to represent the content of the app.  As a result of this significantly more impressive icon, the apps sales rose over 70% within a three month period.

My Tips for a Top App Icon

1) Dont Include Words - This I learnt the hard way, try hard to represent your app purely as a graphical representation of a word, concept, object or operation. Including words with these graphical elements does nothing more than clutter your message.

2) Don’t Apply The Gloss Effect – By default Apple will apply a Gloss Effect to the top portion of your icon when you submitting it to the app store. Whatever you do, don’t use this. Why? It looks terrible and excluding Apples own apps you wont find anyone in the top 100 paid apps choosing to use this.

3) Keep it Simple – Simple is always best and less is always more. As with all design, the more you take away from it while still keeping your message, the more clear that message will be.

4) Icon/App UI Consistency  - Make sure you app is a logical extension of your apps user interface. They should work together and make sense side by side. This was clearly not the case during the first version of the “Sports Rules” app where the app itself didn’t utilise the yellow colour scheme. No wonder people were confused.

5) Stand out from the Crowd - While users scroll through the app store your icon needs to jump out at them. All of the hard work you’ve put into your app should shine through your icon and convince the user that they cannot miss the opportunity to own the app. Scroll through the icons of your competitors and think about colour schemes that work to make your stand out amongst the crowd.

So with the link between app icons, app discovery and eventually app sales clearly identified, it makes perfect sense to launch straight out of the gate with an impressive app icon. Make it memorable and your app will thank you for it.

 

 

 

 
formats

After I found my programmer on Elance, we were soon under way to bring my mockups to life, however one essential component in this equation was missing. My programmer needed graphics.

As this was my first app,I had assumed that the programmer would be the one to build the graphics for the app, however I was sadly mistaken. Some programmers will offer this as part of the package, especially if you specify it in your job description on Elance, however for me I was going to need to go elsewhere to get the graphics made. Here are a number of resources available to get your apps user interface, icons and other graphic assets designed.

99 Designs

With 99designs users create a design contest to suit their requirements. The user then funds the prize money and designers start submitting their entries from all over the world. As the entries roll in your get to provide feedback on the designs, telling them exactly what you like whilst eliminating those that don’t meet your guidelines. Eventually you choose the entry that best meets your needs and the files are made available to you for download.

While using 99 designs for the first time, I wound up receiving over 40 entries to an icon design contest I had setup. The entire experience was amazing, and eventually led to me finding the designer I now work with on all projects. Whilst I no longer use 99 designs for icon design, I have however used it for a number of non app central works including flyers and poster creation. Alternatives include Hire The World

Fiverr

Fiverr.com is the worlds largest marketplace for small services, with all jobs starting a $5. One might think that quality would be lacking with such a reduced pricing scheme however amongst the crowd there are some spectacularly talented people who could easily be charging ten times the amount they offer on the site. Whilst each item starts at $5, each gig usually offers a variety of additional items that you can add to your service to enhance it. Recently I had an icon designed on Fiverr.com, for a simple application that I collaborate on with a friend. The icon eventually cost me $15 as I added a number of sizings. Once awarding the job I communicated exactly what I had in mind and within a few days I received the following icon.

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 12.51.46 PM

Freelancer

Another great website that lets you find and locate freelance workers from around the world. With this you could post your mockup designs as a job directly on the website and receive bids from designers all over the world. Another exciting feature is the ability to start a contest which works similar to 99designs, albeit a little cheaper. Check out the video of Freelancer in action below.

Elance/oDesk

You could also utilise the same platform you found your programmer on. Simply create a job looking for a UI/UX designer and share the mockups you designed for your app. Offers will come flooding in from all over the world in no time.

If your like me and seriously artistically challenged, then outsourcing the design work for your app will be one of the best things you could possibly do. The feeling of receiving a high quality icon and user interface is nothing short of amazing. It’s at this point where you begin to feel you app coming to life. So what’s next?

 
formats
Published on March 19, 2013, by in mobile.

To help keep everyone in touch with the latest from the App Goldmine website, I have pieced together two mobile applications that are now available for download. The apps bring together all of the content from the App Goldmine, packaging it into one mobile resource.

Use the app to stay in touch with the latest blog posts, YouTube videos and tweets. You can also use the discussion board to communicate with each other, or get in touch with Jarrod via the contact us section.

Download from the respective stores below.

ipad

 

 
formats
Published on March 14, 2013, by in Mockups.

One of the most important essential elements when building your app is to plan and organise exactly how you imagine the app to work. This task, which can at times seem tedious is an essential step that will ensure your programmer is fully aware of what you have in mind. To put it bluntly, without a plan, your developer has little more to base their design upon and as such you cannot expect to get exactly what you want produced.

Without any prior knowledge of the importance of effectively communicating my idea, the first app I built was done so with minimal instructions and guidance to the programmer. As a result the app ended up much different to what I had in mind, as the example on the bottom left highlights.  In hindsight this was no suprise at all, as I hadn’t told the programmer that the app didn’t need to showcase the speed in meters per second nor did I tell him it didn’t require the latitude and longitude points. Subsequently after receiving this version of the app, I was Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 12.27.07 PMrequired to go back and complete a mockup that would provide more details into the apps function, resulting in the photo to the bottom right. Not only did this result in an increased amount of time for development, but it made the project cost increase as the developer had to redo elements they have already completed.

 

So what exactly can you use to ensure that your programmer fully understands the scope and function of your project?

Paper and Pencil

Most certainly the obvious choice and exactly how I chose to map out and identify exactly how the app would operate. I simply used plain white computer paper and started drawing how I wanted the home screen of the app to look.  The subsequent pages where labeled with headings that identified clearly which button had been pressed on the previous page. This enabled me to not only show how I imagined each screen to look, but more importantly how the app would function. Obviously not all features can be drawn in, for example in my 12 Minute run app once the user hit the start button, the app would track the user with GPS. To communicate this to the programmer, I simply wrote next to the button stating exactly what the outcome of that button press would be.

Mockup Websites

Using a tool such as Moqups, I was able to effectively communicate the message to my second app “Step Test”. This website includes pre drawn elements that you can drag out onto the canvas to build a simplistic version of your app.  You can take it to the next level by linking together multiple pages of your mockups to create a realistic workflow, showing exactly what happens you click throughout the app. Once finished you can share the mockup with your programmer or graphic designer via the inbuilt share function. Checkout my Step Test Mockup here. Other similar tools include iPhone Mockup.

Keynote/Powerpoint Templates

While I’ve never used the following method for mockups a number of people swear by them as an effective tool for communicting your idea. The positive aspect of them is that they work within existing programs such as Keynote and PowerPoint, meaning that you don’t need to learn anything new. Checkout Sketchkit and  PowerMockup

Apps

Since discovering the app Mockup Tool, which ironically is an App itself, I have not looked back. All of my latest apps have been planned and designed based around the mockups I complete in the app called “App Cooker”.

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 12.53.03 PMWith this tool shown in the image to the left you have everything you need to make true to life mockups that mimic the true function of the app. With this app, you will be able to string together multiple app screens to create and showcase your workflow to the highest degree. You can make use of the bank of iPhone/iPad specific widgets and buttons & controllers. You can even import graphics and other elements direct from Dropbox and other cloud storage
services.

Mockups can be exported to PDF or images and emailed to your programmer or graphic designer. You can even have them download the App Taster app, that will allow you to share the dynamic mockup. Although the app is a little more on the pricey side, it pays for itself in terms in more ways than one. Your programmer will be more productive, have a clearer idea of where they are headed and ultimately produce a better product.

So now you have a number of methods for producing a mockup of your app. I urge you to not make the same mistake I did with my first app ignoring the process entirely.  This ultimately led to me experiencing a number of setbacks which would have been completely avoided had I communicated my idea more effectively.

So what happens if the programmer your choose is not a graphic artist? In the next post we will explore a variety of services that can be used to find and recruit talented Graphic Designers that will bring the Wow factor to your releases.

 

 
formats

After overhearing a conversation amongst two people, I immediately went online and began researching websites that could be used to seek professionals for digital jobs. The first website that I encountered, quickly led me to post my first job and later that night the offers to complete it soon rolled in.

Elance.com 

Elance is worlds leading site for online work providing access to over 2 million freelancers in a variety of digital niches. Talented people including those from web design to video animation can be found instantly via the website. Once signed up users post a job that includes a description, the category of work and your budget. The job then immediately goes live on the website and within minutes, offers to complete your work are rolling in from all over the world. This is where the fun begins, as you start to respond to and research the portfolios of the applicants.

The website employs a process similar to websites such as eBay, whereby freelances are rated by those people that they have completed jobs for, giving you the ability to confidently select an individual that meets your needs. Each respondent, along with their response, will provide the price at which they are willing to complete the job. At this point you have no obligation to select someone, however bear in mind that its not good practice to post jobs without any real intention of fulfilling them. This will also impact on your stats which track the ratio of jobs posted to jobs awarded. If this ratio gets too low, then you may in fact scare off some great bids.

Once you feel comfortable with a person, you need to select them and any further bidding from other users finishes. This then takes you into a private workspace where you can message and manage your freelancer through the entire process. Once selected both parties will then agree on the price of the job, which can either be an hourly rate or a fixed price. You are then taken to the payment portal, where you are required to fund the job into an escrow account. The escrow account simply acts as an intermediary between you and the freelancer, proving that you have the funds to pay them when the job is completed. Finally once you are completely satisfied with the project you ‘release’ the funds and provide your feedback.

Tips for Elance

  1. When posting your job on elance, do not give away too much of the detail. Speak in generic terms about what you want to include in your app. At this stage its not necessary to share the app name, and some of the finer details of how it works. In my case, I was looking to build an app which would eventually be called “The 12 Minute Run”. The app would track how far a user runs in 12 minutes via GPS and attribute a fitness grade. To ensure that I didn’t give too much away, I simply stated that the app would need to employ gps to track the distance of the users, showcase this distance in meters and compare it with a database of results. This generic post ensured that unsuccessful candidates didn’t skim my ideas.
  2. At the bottom of your proposal, say something along the lines of – Please respond to this proposal with “I have read your proposal and am willing to work with you on this project”. Instruct them to include this at the top of their proposal to you. This  simple act ensures that the user has actually read your proposal in its entirety. Anyone that doesn’t include it, should be automatically omitted from contention.
  3. If possible conduct a Skype interview with the developer you select. This will help you determine a lot about their skills and overall personality. In your interview ask them to explain to you exactly what you are trying to achieve with your app. Do they understand it in its entirety. Are they easy to communicate with?
  4. Sign an NDA – Once you have selected the person you are willing to work with, you can have them sign an Non Disclosure Agreement, which works to ensure that your idea is not stolen and replicated. Elance provides sample NDAs and works hard to ensure that all work completed on the website automatically becomes the intellectual property of the person paying for the work once completed.
  5. Set a Fixed Budget – When posting a job you have the option of attaching an hourly rate or a fixed budget to the proposal. In my experience a fixed budget is more transparent providing you with the exact figure you are going to be required to pay.
  6. If possible choose a developer that includes in house Graphic design. This simply makes the entire process all the more easy as the people designing your app, are also building the graphics to go with it. Sure this is not mandatory but it goes a long way to improving the eventual quality of the app.

 

With a successful candidate now chosen work can begin on your project. However before the work commences how can you ensure that the developer fully understands the concept and the level of development required?

This is particularly important and to make sure this happens, you must completed a mockup or wireframe of how you imagine you app to function and operate.

 
formats
Published on March 3, 2013, by in elance.

In the last blog post we built a mobile app in less than 10 minutes, however what about those of your wishing to build an app with a little more functionality than that available within the ibuildapp platform? This would certainly echo my own experiences and desire to make an app with some advanced features.

Even after all the success with my first app, I seemed light years away from reaching my goal. With this in mind I was essentially back at step 1, contemplating signing up for a programming class. However after some careful thought, I realised that even this was frivolous and unnecessary.

 

 So what was I to do?

 

Luckily for me I overheard a discussion between some people in the street, who were talking about how easy it was outsource work in todays day and age. With nothing more than a few clicks, people from all over the world can connect, share and collaborate on projects as though they were in the same room. The whole notion of paying someone online to develop my app hadn’t even occurred to me. I was so caught up in the idea of building it myself. As soon as I gave up on this idea, the project advanced with lightning speed.

What made this possible?

Well, I had discovered Elance.com and the whole world of outsourcing.

 

 

 
formats

After discovering www.ibuildapp.com I was super excited to test it out and see if this would enable me to build the mobile app I had imagined. After a few minutes inside of the intuitive website, I was well on my way to producing an app that would meet my requirements. This would go onto become the very first version of the VCE PE app which is now available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

In the video below, I showcase just how easy the process is as I set out to build the App Goldmine app, in no more than 10 minutes.

Although the full functionality of the ibuildapp.com system wasn’t fully showcased above, the simplicity is certainly communicated.

So what about those looking for more advanced functionality, could the iBuild app system enable this? or would this lead one down an entirely different route?

 
formats

As I have shared in my previous blog post,  my interests in the world of App Development were certainly tickled as I sought a simple and effective means for mobilizing learning for my students.  However the more I researched, the more the reality stared me in the face that I wasn’t going to be able to make this possible, no matter how enthusiastic I was. It wasn’t until I returned to the classroom later that next week, that an almost obvious idea hit me like a tonne of bricks to the face.

 

I was currently teaching a class called “Digital Media’, with students actively involved in website development. They were using a web tool called Weebly which is by far one of the most attractive and easy to use web development tools available. In a matter of hours, students had built superb interactive websites for local businesses. Just as we were finishing the lesson,  a student said to me.

 

How did you make websites when you were at school?

 

To which I replied.

 

We made them by hand using a piece of software called “Notepad”

Well the students though that this was hilarious, and couldn’t imagine anything of quality resulting from what looked like a boring version of Microsoft Word.  This led me to think about just how far web design and development had come in such a short time.

Essentially what took me hours and hours of tutorials and trial and error, was superseded in minutes by students who didn’t know the first thing about web design. This experience got me thinking about my own development pursuits. Could this be possible for app development? Was there an equivalent online tool for creating mobile apps with drag and drop precision?

Fortunately for me and many others, there was not only one online tool but many and with this realisation my dream to build a mobile app was actually starting to progress.

I had found www.ibuildapp.com

 

 

 
formats

In the first part of 2011, I was obsessed with mobile apps and the role they were playing in my everyday life. This lead me to constantly downloading, using, deleting and sharing apps that I thought had tremendous value. Not a day would go by, where I wasn’t engaged in a conversation that started with “There’s an app for that”.

This immense interest led me to ponder the question

How could I build an app? Could I make money from it?

 

This question then spearheaded a lengthy stint researching how I could go about bringing my ideas to life. From all accounts, the process was simple

  1. Buy a mac computer
  2. Download the Xcode Software
  3. Build your app with the Objective C Programming Language
  4. Submit to the App Store
  5. Make Money

The only problem with this was that I knew absolutely nothing about programming and regardless of my intentions to do so, I was doomed to failure before I even started. The following video taken from a keynote I completed in 2012, highlights my first efforts at App Development. You can judge the success

 

There simply had to be an easier way?……..

 

Join us for part 2 as I answer the question above and share with you how my first app was made possible in an hour, and led to over 50,000 downloads.