Building Successful Apps: It’s All About The User Experience

By John Houghton on October 28, 2014


Apple's user experience is simple.

When we look at Apple’s products, such as the iPhone, it is no wonder the device caught on so quickly.  It’s so intuitive and easy to use.  The simplicity of the product is what gives it such traction in the marketplace.  The reason it’s so simple and intuitive is because Apple invested heavily in something called user experience, which is more than just design. 

It encompasses the totality of the experience of interacting with your brand through a specific piece of software.  When when you go off the beaten path of the top apps, the most common experience with the average app is a feeling of frustration, because most apps are poorly conceived and designed. 

Best practices for [...]

$19B Acquisition Lighting the Mobile App Developer World On Fire

By John Houghton on March 26, 2014


Lightbulb showing mobile app development idea.

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 [...]

Mobile App Increases Revenue at Walmart

By John Houghton on March 18, 2014


Woman grocery shopping with mobile phone

“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 [...]

Sell Your App Idea With a Prototype

By John Houghton on March 6, 2014


Android smartphone homescreen.

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 [...]

iBeacon: Secret Weapon For Retailers

By John Houghton on February 25, 2014


iBeacon signal tower

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 [...]

3 Tips for Improving App User Experience

By John Houghton on February 14, 2014


Testing a mobile app developed by MobileCast Media

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 [...]

Mobile App Developer Hiring Continues

By John Houghton on January 31, 2014


Developer creating apps at his desk.

Mobile app developers are in demand and will be for the foreseeable future.  According to what I’m seeing in the marketplace, projects that were previously shelved due to lack of funding are now starting to get attention and funding.  Apple’s iOS is still the first target for an app’s release, with the iPhone being first, followed at a distance by the iPad.  This is despite Android’s dominance and having the market share of mobile devices, but not yet having the mindshare.  Apple is the number one brand (according to Interbrand), and everybody wants to be associated with it.   All a company has to do is develop a good iOS app; however, that’s not as [...]

Android Developer Salaries Surpass iOS

By John Houghton on January 31, 2014


Holding up a Galaxy smartphone.

According to Indeed the average salary for an Android Developer in San Francisco is $124,000, while a Senior Android Developer makes $150,000 (as of 1/30/14).  When compared to iOS developers, I’ve been seeing evidence of Android developers making more, $122,000 and $139,000 respectively.  This is reflected by the dominance of the Android operating system in the marketplace, and due in part to the success of Samsung.

Overall, I find that Android programming (which is done in Java) goes quicker than iOS programming, but there are significant holdups when it comes to QA (Quality Assurance – testing).  There are so many different types of Android devices, and for a mainstream app, you can’t ignore them.  To test, [...]

iOS Developer Salaries Hold Steady

By John Houghton on January 31, 2014


Holding iPhone with ios7 at a coffee shop

I get a lot of questions about what it costs to develop iOS (iPhone/iPad) apps, and people often wonder what it takes to retain an iOS developer.  My company is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I’ve hired a lot of iOS developers, so I can share some insights and interpretations about what I see going on.

I checked a number of sources, and it looks to me like the job site Indeed.com has the most accurate numbers.  According to Indeed, and as of today, January 30th, 2014, the average iOS developer in San Francisco makes $122,000 per year, while a senior developer makes $139,000 per year.  The salary for this job category is [...]

iPhone App Development On Windows

By John Houghton on January 30, 2014


Laptop running Windows 8

I get a lot of questions about the requirements for iPhone app development, and wanted to write a post to clear up some of the confusion.  In order to create an app, you need a software development kit, or SDK.  It’s best if you get the native SDK from Apple.  “Native” means that it is the primary tool that Apple intends for you to use when writing your iPhone app.  This SDK can also be used to code apps for the iPad.  I recommend that you use the SDK that Apple provides.  It is possible to download non-native SDKs from different providers, such as Appcellerator or Phonegap, but by using these non-native SDKs, you become [...]

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