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Mobile App Development TV (Video – MP3)
1 minutes | Dec 4, 2014
ContractRoom: Streamlining B2B Contracts
By way of keeping you connected to the hot new companies that debut here in Silicon Valley, one in particular caught my eye and it’s called ContactRoom. As you can imagine, a company that does a lot of B2B contracts needs to have a streamlined process and until now we’ve had basic ERP functionality, but the Workday of B2B contracts hasn’t existed until now. Getting a contract signed is part of the sales function and both the selling performance and the legal terms are key. Now companies can track both the sales reps and the terms to see which are performing, or not, and adjust accordingly. There are a number of wins here. First, all contracts are kept in one place, so there’s no keeping contracts on individual computers. Second, one of the hardest parts is compliance and making sure the parties perform their duties. ContractRoom insures that duties are performed on-time, on-budget and to the required specifications, while providing full visibility to all parties throughout the process. Please watch the video below. I think the biggest win of all is with this process in place, companies can be more flexible on their contract terms. The biggest roadblock has been compliance – if you do a bunch of one-off contracts in volume, how are you going to track compliance? Therefore a lot of companies pass up business in favor of not changing their contract. Now with ContractRoom, companies can be more flexible and therefore win more business. I’m excited to see what ContractRoom is able to do in the next year.
5 minutes | Nov 22, 2014
HTML5 Is An Alternative When Getting Started With Apps
At the DEMO Fall 2014 conference what we do is watch other companies debut their products and then take feedback from a panel of judges. I watched Brad Lawler of Draft present and the judges liked his financial services solution and they commented a lot on the excellent look-and-feel of his app. Sorry to say, but appearances make a huge difference in just about everything these days and mobile apps are no exception. Incredible to me is that Brad designed the app himself. He says he studied design for a few years on his own, and when it came time to design his app, he worked with a few different agencies, where he learned a lot but created the final design himself. Brad’s user interface looks wonderful and it’s a testament to his talent as a person who can do a lot of things well. A lot of complaints I have about HTML5 interfaces is that they are slow and clunky, but his was fast due to optimization on the back end. Brad wants to create apps for iOS and Android so that he can have apps in the respective stores, but otherwise thought a company could achieve many of the same benefits through HTML5. It’s yet to be seen whether this is the right approach. The trend now is people like to use apps on their mobile devices, versus the mobile web. Draft has made a high performance HTML5 app, but I think what some people might miss is the ability to launch it from an icon. True, you can make a shortcut on your home screen but most people don’t know how to do this. Also, in later versions, users might want features that require local processing or data caching, which is not robust on HTML5 versus native apps. Either way, everybody was impressed with Brad’s app, and it isn’t lacking, he wants to do a native app soon, so more power to him. As an FYI to people who want to develop an app. If your app connects to external hardware, like a heart rate monitor, or uses native features of the phone like GPS, the accelerometer, or requires local processing – these usually require native development.
5 minutes | Nov 22, 2014
Finding Success With Enterprise Apps: Usability Is Key
Ryan Huff is CEO of Cirruspath which provides a way of more seamlessly integrating with CRM systems. When asked what the trend is with enterprise apps, he said it was all about usability and you can’t expect to get it right in the first release. I speak with many enterprises who are interested in app development and many of them are just becoming aware of what it takes to develop a good mobile app. Keep in mind that a poor mobile app is likely not to be used and might not have much of an impact on an organization. Ryan says that organizations can’t expect to get it right on the first try or even the second try, but it takes a lot of investment and iteration to get it right. As far as developers he told me that it is still expensive to hire developers, especially the ones who can get the job done. Our research shows that the average cost for a mobile developer is about $130K per year and he says this is about right. His developers work out of southern California while QA is offshore. He has about 10 developers and he is responsible for the product management. Normally, you might have a 4 or 6 to 1 ratio of developers to product managers, but it’s just him right now, so he has a big job. Stay tuned for more coverage of DEMO Fall 2014.
6 minutes | Nov 21, 2014
DEMO Fall 2014: Mobile Trends
I was excited to cover DEMO Fall 2014, which ended yesterday. I have a lot of content and thoughts, some of it is already out and I’ll be pushing the rest of it out as time permits. What I want to bring you is a sense of what you would learn if you were there and I’ve picked a good person to interview to give you that perspective (I encourage you to catch the next DEMO event). Erick Schonfeld is the executive producer of DEMO and he and his team reviewed scores of startups and selected the 40 who are attending. After reviewing so many startups in the space and considering he’s been covering technology startups for a long time, he has quite a vista into what’s going on regarding mobile trends. Although he didn’t want to talk about his other venture while running DEMO, Erick is also a mobile entrepreneur and his team has developed a video editing app for iPad. He has managed mobile projects and has a feel for what it takes to get an app built and distributed. This also contributes to an accurate perspective. Watch the interview below to get his thoughts on current mobile trends: Current mobile trends include apps that do only one thing but do it very well such as Valet Anywhere, which at certain locations, allows you to get your car valeted and it is very unique in that the valet comes to you wherever you are. Skillpocket is a marketplace on your phone to find talent such as designers and developers. PathSense is an app that reduces the drain on your battery caused by GPS (which is a battery hog) – it tracks your motion and momentum to calibrate your position. Erick also discusses the evolution of tools for developing mobile apps and some of the constraints in hiring developers and designers. There is strong demand for developers here in the US, but the rest of the world is coming up-to-speed on mobile technologies which provides a deeper bench for talent. Despite the availability of developers, a lot of tasks like user interface design and user experience are handled here in the states. I remember talking to a development vendor in Estonia and asking him if his firm designs apps. He said yes, but he wasn’t sure if we would like their design sense in Estonia because perceptions of good design can be quite different in different geographies. If the app was for a US audience, he recommended the design be done in the US. Conversely, I remember seeing the incredible work of a Polish designer. He had a great eye and wasn’t even formally educated in design. Because of the demand for his talent, I could never book him. So it is possible to get good design overseas, but it may be more work to find individuals with your design sense.
6 minutes | Nov 19, 2014
Advice to Wearables Entrepreneurs From Skully CEO
I spoke with Marcus Weller, CEO of Skully today at DEMO Fall 2014. I asked him what advice he would give to entrepreneurs who are thinking about getting involved in wearables. He had some great advice and that is to focus on your core use case and get that right before you move on. I thought that was spot on, because you may have read other posts of mine where Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, says, “It’s easy to add; it’s hard to edit – it’s hard to focus.” Apple is successful because Apple has always focused. That’s what entrepreneurs these days need to do and not only that, there are many executives at important companies who need the same advice. An app isn’t a catch-all, but is made to solve a specific need that is usually task-specific. Marcus says his helmet is “like a fighter pilot helmet for motorcyclists.” It has a heads up display that gives the rider full visibility around them. This is especially important for motorcyclists because they typically don’t see well in their blind spots. Another thing that non-riders might not think about is it’s hard to get turn-by-turn directions on a motorcycle. If you think about it, a motorcyclist doesn’t have a hand that’s free to pull out a mobile device. Skully not only provides GPS navigation, but also readouts from the gauges on the motorcycle. Watch the video interview below: Marcus adds, “…the key thing for developing a wearable is to be very focused on a specific problem and to go deep on that problem rather than trying to be all things to all people.” This is true not only for wearables but for any startup or new product or service. With limited resources you have to focus, otherwise you won’t do anything well and you’ll run out of resources before you’re done. I also liked what Marcus said about doing away with the UI (user interface), because really, you wouldn’t need to interact with the device so much if it were more situationally aware. To make a more situationally aware device is going to take AI (artificial intelligence). Apple bought Suri for its AI capabilities. It might be an unfair test to throw Suri against the general population, but after seeing it perform, I’m underwhelmed and it shows us how far we have to go with AI. It isn’t easy or cheap, but the person or company that cracks the code will do well.
2 minutes | Nov 18, 2014
Payment System Turns People Into ATMs
One of the things I love about conferences like DEMO Fall 2014 is they get you outside of your normal way of thinking, and that’s what is necessary to be truly innovative. Who ever thought of turning people into ATMs? It’s pretty crazy and it could either go wrong or it could go right. Just like the mobile carriers were disintermediated by WhatsApp, this payment solution by Ali Goss of HelloBit could push banks aside for at least one of their services – money transfer. International money transfer processes are full of friction. It’s hard to pay vendors overseas, there are hefty fees involved, and it usually requires a special trip to the bank where you fill out a long form. For some reason, my international vendors don’t take PayPal. One time I sent a check to my team in Poland and they were very sad because it can take up to 6 weeks to clear – I didn’t know it would take so long. Watch the video below: Platforms like these provide a solution to those transferring money, and it makes it especially economical for sending small amounts of money. Stay tuned for more exciting updates by following @johnmobilecast!
2 minutes | Nov 18, 2014
DEMO 2014: Software Keyboard for iOS and Android
Many people are not aware that it is possible to swap in your own custom keyboard in iOS 8 (a software keyboard, not a hardware keyboard). Such keyboards have been possible on Android for a while. I talked with Ping Wang of iQ Technology and the CEO Ray Chao about their new DejaVu Keyboard product at the opening welcome reception at DEMO Fall 2014. The main benefit is it helps you type faster and is useful for words that are unique to you or your profession. Let’s face it, the rate a which you can type on a mobile keyboard is a big friction point on mobile devices and DejaVu Keyboard can really speed things up for users. Watch the video below: Stay tuned and prepare to connect with more innovative ideas at DEMO 2014!
1 minutes | Nov 18, 2014
Watch Mobile App Development TV at DEMO Fall 2014 in San Jose
As host of Mobile App Development TV, I’ll be covering DEMO 2014 to bring you the very latest in app development trends, best practices, strategies, and insights. I’m excited about the lineup of speakers including Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and cofounder of Twitter, Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, Peter Thiel, Former CEO of PayPal and Matt Rogers, Founder of Nest. That’s a heavy hitting lineup, straight from the heart of Silicon Valley. We’ll be here November 18, 19 and 20. A number of successful companies have launched at DEMO, including Salesforce.com, Evernote, Jawbone, Cisco WebEx, Vmware and many others. I’m especially excited to hear about Steve Wozniak’s latest venture. Stay tuned on this blog or watch twitter for @johnmobilecast.
3 minutes | Mar 26, 2014
$19B Acquisition Lighting the Mobile App Developer World On Fire
They say that the rising tide floats all ships. What about a tidal wave? Many people are dumbfounded at the valuations that app companies are receiving, especially in the messaging world, but looking back at history can provide some perspective. Messaging has been hot for a while, starting with AOL in the 90s, then platforms were developed that integrated the many messaging solutions. Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011, and although that wasn’t an app deal, it set the tone. Facebook then bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012; the biggest app deal to date, and it seemed like a lot, but that deal has been totally eclipsed by Facebook’s latest $19 billion dollar WhatsApp acquisition. WhatsApp isn’t the only app company to be highly valued. Last week we saw Airbnb receive a $10 billion dollar valuation as it seeks to raise additional cash. So it’s not just messaging apps. As a result of this activity, anybody who is involved in a mobile project has seen a lift from these deals. Money for mobile projects is easier to raise, and people with ideas for mobile projects have seen the stock in their projects rise. Watch this video to hear what drives a deal like this and the effect it is having on the mobile development community: Watch MP4 (iPhone/iPad) Building the app is supposed to be the easy part, but acquiring users is much more difficult and boils down to cost per user. According to Bill Fisher, Founder of Summit Advisors, “When you look at the cost per user that you’re buying WhatsApp for, $42 – $43 dollars per user, it’s really cheap when you look at the overall industry.” When you compare “Twitter at $150 dollars per user or LinkedIn at $120 dollars per user, WhatsApp looks rather inexpensive.” WhatsApp is an example of a company that grew well and played all of its cards right. “Most app companies have trouble getting users” and leveraging their user base to find new users, according to Brian Blau, Research Director for Gartner Group. That’s something people don’t understand, especially in the technology community. App development is a hot skill, but even hotter than that is knowing how to grow an app’s user base. One thing is for sure: these large deals validate the mobile app industry and raise the stature of all involved.
4 minutes | Mar 18, 2014
Mobile App Increases Revenue at Walmart
“Customers who use the app actually shop with us two times more frequently and spend 40% more than a customer who doesn’t use our apps,” according to Wendy Bergh, Vice President, Mobile & Digital Strategy at Apps World 2014. While many companies want assurance of a return before they invest, Walmart is an example of an innovative company who took a risk by investing in mobile apps without any clear return in sight. By taking a risk and carefully listening to her customers she was able to provide a substantial return on investment to Walmart through mobile apps. It makes sense that Walmart would find this opportunity, because there is a lot of low hanging fruit with people spending more time interacting with apps and less time engaged with other media. If you want to retain and grow your audience, you need to meet buyers where they are, and increasingly buyers are interacting with mobile apps. After Walmart released its first app, it didn’t receive the ratings that they wanted, so they did a lot of thinking and usability testing to create an app that was closer to what customers want, and this was the one that paid off. The features they provide include a digital shopping list, the ability to scan items in the store to determine the price, and the ability to see newly discounted items. One particularly unique feature is the “geo-fencing” of each store location. When a customer is in the store, the user sees the specials for that store. Watch the video below to learn more and to see how mobile traffic eclipsed web traffic on Black Friday: Watch MP4 (iPhone/iPad) For Walmart strategists, their goals are to make the mobile experience faster and more convenient, so their customers can save money and live better lives. To create a high performance team, they set up their development office in Silicon Valley so that they could draw on the rich talent pool here. Have you see these types of returns with apps? Please comment below.
4 minutes | Mar 6, 2014
Sell Your App Idea With a Prototype
The most effective way to sell a mobile app idea is to create a complete prototype so that your stakeholders can get a sense of the full experience of your app. People are visual, and by showing your idea in action you can capture the excitement and give a sense of what the app really does. That’s the advice of Marco Paglia, Google’s Design Lead. An effective presentation can help you secure funding or get your company’s buy-in on the concept and design. In other words, your prototype needs to be fully functional and complete with graphics and transitions. In order to sell the idea, the prototype must be striking and visually appealing. Then it is invaluable in selling the idea, showing it around the company, sharing it with stakeholders, and demonstrating its importance. For more information about this and other effective design tips watch the video: Watch MP4 (iPhone/iPad) According to Marco, you need to have all of your design elements and characteristics in place. This may be relatively easy for a company like Google that has a lot of experience and resources. Some new startups may have trouble with this because they don’t have the knowledge or resources to bootstrap a design. For me, it’s rather simple to come up with a functioning prototype. In fact, it can be done in a few days. I’ve seen a lot of early stage startups get stuck, however, and take many months and burn many dollars to do this. A good part of the needed process is narrowing down the wide range of ideas in the room and communicating information on effective mobile design and best practices. Sometimes the stakeholders will have ideas that I know have turned out poorly in the past for other mobile projects, and it can take a lot of time to persuade them to move in the right direction. Trusting your project lead and limiting the team to experienced people can also keep your costs and down and get to market quickly. Inexperienced members can cause the team to lose focus, so it is helpful if there is an empowered project lead, a person in charge who can make tough decisions on where to focus so that resources aren’t wasted by spending time on peripheral issues or detours. It is possible to complete a mockup or prototype in a matter of days if you have the right team. Delays are sometimes unavoidable if key stakeholders don’t have much experience in mobile apps or with software development. It often takes a lot of time and resources when your project lead has to show how some ideas have not worked with examples that are relevant to the project. Your project lead has a stake in the project because he or she wants it to turn out well and doesn’t want to be associated with a flawed project. Remember that project leads are invested in you making the right choices, so hire experienced project leaders and listen to them.
3 minutes | Feb 25, 2014
iBeacon: Secret Weapon For Retailers
As part of our continuing coverage of Apps World 2014 in San Francisco, I talked to Brent Hieggelke, Chief Marketing Officer of Urban Airship. Urban Airship provides notification services for app developers, and this ties very nicely with beacons that can trigger events like personalized notifications when a user is at a particular location in the store. Until now marketers could only learn about their customers through their web browsing and mobile app usage, but now data are available on a customer’s physical movements throughout the shopping experience. Can you imagine the possibilities? Thus far, advertising costs have dropped dramatically because of the very precise targeting available through online advertising. Now, retailers can set up all sorts of A/B testing to see which displays and retail environments are most effective. This can drive further revenue and savings for retailers. Watch the video to find out the new possibilities for retailers to gain unprecedented insights from their customers: Watch MP4 (iPhone/iPad) Apple has chosen to call their offering iBeacon and has designed it so that Android phones can also support the technology. The solution allows users to set their preferences to allow beacon-triggered events. When sending messages, however, retailers should need to know that the most effective messages must be relevant and timely for the user. Other potential uses include welcome messages when a user enters a retail store. When combined with other data about the user’s needs, the message can present the user with a personalized offer and discount. It is also possible to collect exit surveys when a user leaves an establishment. MobileCast Media offers iBeacon development services. For more information, please contact us. Transcript: John: John Houghton with Mobile App Development TV here at Apps World 2014, here with Brent Hieggelke. How are you doing Brent? Brent: I’m doing fine John, good to see you. John: I wanted to find out about iBeacon, tell us briefly first what iBeacon is. Brent: iBeacon is a new capability that Apple announced at their last conference and it’s got the industry really excited because what it does is it takes a mobile experience indoors and creates completely new capabilities for what those might look like. John: I think of it in two ways. We now have a lot of data on what people are doing online, what they are doing on their mobile devices, but now we have the option of collecting with permission data about what they are doing in the physical world. Brent: That’s correct and that brings a whole new thing, a whole new capability about insights. Today if you had a mobile app, let’s say a retailer, you really wouldn’t know necessarily if those customers were visiting your stores. You wouldn’t know which stores, you wouldn’t know which departments in those stores. With this capability you can theoretically know that I went to this department store, on this day and I visited the shoe department. That’s really interesting for them now to know that you’re a shoe shopper at this particular store. So it brings the ability to serve and really segment that customer to a whole another level. Which means that they can turn that around and use that to reengage that costumer when they have certain things that are of interest. So thats why it’s exciting. John: And so I hear some concerns about privacy, how do we allay those concerns? Brent: So the good thing is you know this is all really opt in. So even location tracking is opt in, consumer says yes. So in our world we do push messaging so the consumer is opted in first by downloading the app. So if I download your app I’m basically coming to you. Secondly I’ve said yes to receiving push messages, that’s the second opt in. And if location tracking is at play there is a separate “Are you ok with this app tracking your location?” So at that point the consumer said yes three times. If they’re not overtly stating the fact that they want a relationship with you by opting in three times, I don’t really know what else you can do. But the consumer is in control ultimately and they are getting savvier about what they do and they don’t give these permissions to everybody you have to earn the privilege for them to say yes at each one of these levels. John: Well thanks very much for joining us Brent. Brent: Alright, thanks John, it’s been a pleasure.
3 minutes | Feb 14, 2014
3 Tips for Improving App User Experience
Last week I went to Apps World 2014 in San Francisco with the intent of interviewing thought leaders on a variety of topics, including User Experience (UX). Why user experience? Because if an app isn’t useable, it will fail; and many apps are failing because of usability. When you consider all of the other factors, you can max out each of them, but if your app’s UX (user experience) is poor, the app will fail. The UX of an app is one of the most determinate factors of success. This is why it’s so important for app developers to figure out what good UX is and implement this in their app. A good UX makes an app intuitive and makes the important features of the app easy to find and use. This is what successful apps are all about. I interviewed Peter Merholz, VP of Global Design at Groupon for Mobile App Development TV and he had some very interesting things to say. He provides three suggestions for improving app usability. Watch the video to find out what they are: Watch MP4 (iPhone/iPad) Besides the three points, Peter said that you shouldn’t try to fit everything from your website into your app. I’ve seen this many times and overheard one of the HTML5 tracks with Kent Brewster, Front-end Engineer, Pinterest and Dave Fetterman, VP Engineering Famo.us (former Mobile Engineering Manager at Facebook). They were talking about user experience in the HTML5 track and made the point about retrofitting a website onto a mobile device. I can’t remember which one said it, but they used the example of taking your non-mobile-optimized website and look at that on a mobile device. ‘See how everything is crunched up and unreadable? That can’t be solved.’ As an engineer, if your boss asks you to design an app that encompasses that much functionality, the advice was to look for a new job. The point here is that mobile apps are task specific. They can do one or a few things well and you have to figure out what those functions are.
8 minutes | Jan 28, 2014
Mobile App Development Cost and Design
Two of the toughest issues for mobile app development company stakeholders are cost and design. On the iOS platform (iPhone/iPad), particular attention is paid to design, and Android also has its own design language; however, the navigation patterns can be quite different between the two platforms. In this video episode of Mobile App Development TV, we talk to Pete Petras, who is the US Creative Director for Globant. Globant is a technology service provider focused on developing compelling experiences with particular expertise in mobile app development. Pete talks about the cost incurred when companies undertake development projects, and how user experience is becoming a driving factor in app success. Watch the video now: Watch MP4 (iPhone/iPad) People are figuring out that mobile is a different platform which requires more of a user-focused product definition with an impeccable focus on detail. According to Pete, “It ultimately does what design should do, it’s invisible in a way, especially when you’re talking about an iPhone. When you look at the iPhone, all eyes are on the interface.” I’ve heard it said at Apple before, that good design is invisible, and I don’t think a lot of people understand how much work it takes to come up with a design that is exceptional. When you see it, it looks so simple. I think design and user experience are the missing factors in many apps, and achieving excellence here takes time and revision. Usually when I’m working on a design, the client likes the first draft and doesn’t want to pay for revisions, but I think this is short-sighted if you’re goal is to design the killer app. You arrive at the first design, and then deconstruct it, to see what the user is really trying to do with your app. Then you incorporate the new lessons in your redesign. Just yesterday, there was a post in The Wall Street Journal blog, asking Why Aren’t App Designers as Famous as Chefs? John Maeda, the new design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers says, “We’ve hit this plateau where technology alone is not enough to sell a product. So what is it that we need to make us want something? It’s about the design.” Design is something that should be thought of first, and it should be started early in the development project. You can find out more about Pete’s design tastes on his Pinterest Board. MobileCast Media offers app design and development services. Please contact us for more information. Transcript John: Welcome To Mobile App Development TV, I’m your host John Houghton and today we’re talking about mobile app development cost and design. We’re joined in the studio by Pete Petras. Pete is a US Creative Director for Globant. Globant is a technology service provider that focuses on developing compelling experiences and they have particular expertise in mobile. How are you doing Pete? Pete: I’m doing well, thanks John. John: What does it cost to design and develop a mobile app? Pete: One billion dollars. John: One billion, not a million? Pete: No I guess in this market it’s a billion dollars, right that the bar. No, that all depends on the length of the project, it all depends on the complexity of the app and ultimately whatever the cost is that you figure out that it will actually take to develop. You can do an analysis and say, “hey we have x amount of people that costs us x amount of time and we predicted that this takes six months or nine months to develop and there for that’s our budget or that’s what it’s going to cost us. I would say times that by two, maybe by three. Because nothing ever goes the way you think it will go and a month into it you’re going to have to grow the team by two maybe even by three and then who knows. You’ll have other costs that you’ll have to take into consideration, licensing, who knows, there are all sorts of elements that are always unforeseen and it will defiantly cost always more than you really think it will. John: So this is typical software development you might say with the added element that people haven’t done this type of thing before. Pete: Yeah, I mean it is your standard software development. I think the real shift from being a standard software development is really a focus on user experience. I think with Apple and a lot of the start-ups, the Square, the Instagram etcetera, these rich experiences that have really set the bar for what users expect. On top of that paired with the adoption of smart phones has made this a different platform and a different focus to really spend your attention on. Otherwise those problems are still the same. I think the teams are structured a little differently now, the approach is different and I think it’s for better. I think a lot of this has a trickle down or a trickle back effect to other software development aspects. So the ability to understand your users to have a user focused product definition is defiantly a thing that isn’t just unique to mobile development it’s something that goes beyond that to all sorts of different products that we all use or will develop for. John: So I think of everybody following Steve Jobs in this industry and him pushing towards the idea of having a delightful user experience and delighting the user- and those are the words he used and then he was able to push his whole company in that direction. Pete: Yeah, so Apple’s a unique case. Apple did a very interesting thing, it’s basically Dieter Rams 2.0 if you will and it’s not to demean anyone within Apple by any means. It’s something I love. I think that the hardware the I.D. is beautiful, it’s simplistic. The attention to detail is impeccable. John: For those that don’t know what is Dieter Rams 2.0? Pete: So Dieter Rams was the Chief Creative Director for Braun and he designed this very simplistic design language and its been resurrected by Jony Ives at Apple and expanded onto the digital products and it has a very similar parallel design principal involved. A lot of it is just simplicity core of the function and ultimately what it does really well not just the details of it. It ultimately does what design should do, it’s invisible in a way, especially when you’re talking about an iPhone. When you look at the iPhone all eyes are on the interface. The iPhone itself is just a frame and it’s such a beautiful frame, it’s an amazing frame that they’ve created this created this element of luxury because of the quality aspect of this. So now with iOS7 you have this, finally you have this unification of Apple’s digital offering you have this hardware product that was actually unified you had this design language came along but as iPhone was first introduced all the different digital properties within the iPhone stated drifting apart. You have a lot of the skeuomorphic stuff, you had the app store you have all different departments. John: What’s skeuomorphic? Pete: Skeuomorphic is basically something that is pretending to be something that it’s not. A fake leather interface or fake wood or taking on the look and feel of other objects. John: Sort of a metaphor for physical objects. Pete: Yeah. John: And it kind of all went away with iOS7. Pete: So what iOS7 did whether people like it or not it unified all the Apple elements of the interface. So any of the actual iOS touch points where all unified under iOS7, which is great because it finally brought it together. Now they took a step beyond and actually went away some of the best practices within user interface design guidelines or UX design principles and took buttons out of where buttons usually where and just relied on the actual titles and really made things simple. And I mean they did this to follow along with what they’ve done with the hardware product right. So they took a big step into designing something that was really premium made it very expensive yet desirable, obviously we’ve seen this work. They’re very successful at it. They’re doing the same thing with the interface, they’re unifying it but they are also taking a step of making it very simple and also just focusing it on a particular client. Now those design principals that they followed or that they didn’t follow aren’t great. They didn’t do the things that they needed to do to make things perfect but then again they’re not designing the beige box, right? So they went way from designing beige towers, beige computers, they’re also not designing a beige user interface. So they’re taking that stance and shifting a little bit towards the apple side of things. John: Well Pete its been great having you on the show thanks so much for being here. Pete: Thanks John, I appreciate being here it’s great to see all the content that you’ve been producing and I’d love to see more. Extended Transcript John: Designing a mobile app is a daunting task, where do you start? Pete: So, starting to design an app, I would say the first thing you have to do is to identify and understand who your users are. Identifying and understanding the broad aspect of your user base is important but you’re never going to design an app that solves a problem for every single person. So really a first good part to start with is to understand the extreme parts of who your user base might be, understanding what is on the furthest right or left side of your user base but really picking one particular audience member and designing for one person. John: Maybe someone that more towards the center? Or would that be out in the ends? Pete: Understanding the extremes is important. It’s important to understand what those niche elements might be but really identifying one particular person and using them as a case and a target. That is probably most valuable. You’re never going to be kind of the do all for everyone. John: So does that involve making user personas? Pete:
8 minutes | Nov 20, 2013
Gamification and Why Your Mobile App Needs It
You don’t have to look far to see how gamification has accelerated online websites and apps. Take the Facebook “Like” for example. This game mechanic has driven the success of the Facebook platform. If you already have or are thinking about building an iPhone or Android app, you should give some thought to what’s going to keep your users coming back. Applying principles of gamification can be just the thing to make your app successful. Watch the video now: Watch MP4 (iPhone/iPad) In this first episode of Mobile App Development TV, we talk to Danny Maco, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who frequently serves as an advisor to startup companies here in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has worked recently as the General Manager of the digital division of University Games. Even if you don’t have a game app, you can still apply the principles he outlines to nearly any type of app. Gamification is all around us. I remember in kindergarten, we would get a series of stars for completing various tasks in the classroom. Those stars really drove our behavior in class. I’m amazed at how people respond to airline mileage programs. I know some people who take unnecessary flights at the end of the year, just to maintain their mileage status. Mileage programs not only generate loyalty, but they help airlines maintain a minimum spending level for their customers. In this video, Danny explains that there are four variables that drive a successful app: 1. Discoverability 2. Large audiences 3. Retain users 4. Generate revenue These four variables are driven by gamification. Danny also provides examples of gamification, citing LinkedIn and how they display a progress bar as you complete your profile. LinkedIn also provides the ability to see who has looked at your profile, which keeps people coming back. Another great example is endorsements. When people receive things, they feel like they should give back, and this provides stickiness and a sense of community. All of these game mechanics work to continually bring users back to the app to generate revenue. MobileCast Media offers app gamification services. Contact us for a quote. Mobile App Development TV Transcript This program is of interest to companies developing iPhone, Android, iPad and tablet apps. To control cost, it’s always good to develop subject matter expertise and that’s what you can gain from this program. We are based in the San Francisco Bay Area and cover mobile app development news and best practices. Introduction Danny Opener: From an online product perspective one of the more powerful examples of gamification, from an element perspective is the Facebook like. Think about how powerful that is. You know, when somebody likes something that you’ve posted, there’s a super strong social element to that. Voice Over: From MobileCast Media’s headquarters in Silicon Valley, this is Mobile App Development TV with John Houghton. John: Welcome to Mobile App Development TV, I’m your host John Houghton, and we’re talking today about gamification, now gamification is very important if you want to bring people to your app and get them to stay and have them come back. It needs to have a gamification element. It’s important not just for games but for any type of app. So we’re talking today with Danny Maco, he is a subject matter expert in this area and he worked recently as the General Manager of the digital division of University Games where his job was to take physical board games and to turn them into mobile games. How are you doing today Danny? Danny: Good John, thank you for inviting me. John: A lot of people don’t know what gamification is, what is gamification in your words and why does it matter? Danny: So there’s often a lot of confusion around what gamification is, and maybe it’s better or easier to describe what it’s not. Often people think gamification is taking a non-game product and turning into a game. While there may be some use cases where that’s helpful, generally that’s not what’s meant by gamification. They’re four primary variables that drive a successful game. They have to be discovered, there’s millions and millions- hundreds of thousands of apps available on these various app stores. They have to have audiences that are large audiences to be able to make their monetization model work. They need to retain their users in order to maximize the lifetime value of their players and generate enough revenue to make their business model work and they need to monetize those players. Because mobile applications just as an example or mobile games is such a competitive environment and you’re competing against other developers that are building free games so you’re competing against free, the successful game developers have become masters at maximizing and optimizing these four things. So now when you take a step back and you look at any business, whether it’s an online business or a traditional product and you think about it, they have those exact same needs and issues they need to have their product discovered, whether traditionally it’s through various marketing channels etcetera but people need to find their product. They have to have enough consumers to buy it to make it a good business model, so audience is important for them too, usually just uses different terms referred to customers as opposed to audience. You want to retain those users and that’s why loyalty programs have been so helpful and utilized to keep people around engage with your brand so that there’s more and more opportunity over time to provide value in exchange for revenue and then monetizing. So, because the problems when the variables related to success on both types of businesses are the same, gamification is really about using those proven methods of maximizing revenue, engagement, etcetera success in general in the gaming world and applying them to non-traditional or non-game types of products and businesses. John: And monetization is the end goal. Are there some examples of how gamification can be incorporated into a product? Danny: Well in reality gamification is all around us, keeping in mind that often you’re interacting with products without even realizing that there have been gamification considerations in the design and development of that product. Loyalty programs are a great example which you can see everywhere, whether it’s at Safeway or flying on an airline, those all have game mechanics in them. Some other subtle examples of things that many of you use on a regular basis, LinkedIn as an example has a lot of game mechanics associated with it that you may not be thinking about. The progression bar as an example, there’s a mechanic associated with achievement and people want to feel progression. So by putting a progression bar there, people are able to get that feedback of – hey I just accomplished something and I can see real stimulus coming back to me that its being accomplished. There’s a certain sense of reward to see that you’re progressing. There are other examples of vanity mechanic when LinkedIn added the ‘who’s looking at your profile’, well when people go in there and look at who’s looked at their profile there’s little bit of appreciation, reward from a vanity perspective, ‘Hey people think I’m important, I’m getting some validation of who I am and what I’m doing’. Appointment mechanics so when you look at the stats associated with people that have viewed your profile you notice that you can only look at the updates of that on the graph once a week. So for some types of people that are using the application, they’ll come back knowing that ‘well its Thursday now I can see my stats for last week, have I gone up? Have I gone down?’ Another great example of a game mechanic in LinkedIn is endorsements, which really utilizes what’s called a gifting mechanic. So when people come in and they endorse you, to some extent they’re gifting you. They’re giving recognition that you’ve done certain things which is of value to you. Now the gifting mechanic is really interesting and important because when people receive a gift, they feel obligated to some extent to give a gift back. So you’ll find that when people endorse people, those people that are endorsed will often go back and endorse the people that endorsed them. Now of course this is great for LinkedIn as a product because it brings people back to the environment, back to their product and facilitates retention of their users. Probably the most, from an online product perspective one of the more powerful examples of gamification, from an element perspective is the Facebook like. Think about how powerful that is. You know, when somebody likes something that you’ve posted, there’s a super strong social element to that you’re interacting with other there’s a vanity element. Look somebody liked what I said or what I liked or what I posted, there’s a reward, if I put up content I’ll get that feedback from people. Hopefully not negative feedback and actually you notice they’ve done a good job of making it very difficult to get negative feedback or positive, you know. They like what I’m doing, and so really not only a powerful game mechanic but an example of an element that a company’s hinged and revolved their entire business around. John: Well game mechanics can certainly help make an app more successful. Well that all we have time for. Thanks Danny and thank you for joining us. I’m John Houghton for Mobile App Development TV here in Silicon Valley. Mobile App Development TV is part of the MobileCast Media blog. For more information please visit Mobilecastmedia.com/blog. Thank you. Extended Transcript Follows John: What are some of the challenges of taking let’s say a real world board game and converting that into a mobile game. Danny
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