Million Dollar Products · by Kyle Neath hits all the right notes. I’ve pulled out my favourite bits. Enjoy. Re-read. Share. Build.
Formula for success:
- Pick a task that people already use software for (communicate, organize, write, etc).
- Build a better piece of software to accomplish the task.
- Iterate on it with customer feedback.
- Build up enough revenue to quit your job and work on it full time.
It feels like the hobby programmers of today are only interested in building Unicorns — a really stupid name for companies valued at a billion dollars or more. People don’t start hacking on projects anymore, they become CEOs and start looking for funding.
We stopped building products that allow people to do more. Now we build products that make people use more.
If you want to make a million dollars a year, you don’t need millions (or hundreds of millions) of customers. 12,000 paying customers at $7 per month can do it.
You don’t have to cross cultural boundaries to get 12,000 customers, which means you aren’t trying to force one design pattern for everyone in the world. You don’t have to worry about internationalization, localization, or learning how business is done in Japan.
On making money:
Software is an extremely high margin business. We have all kinds of financial freedom that other businesses never experience. Once you get to the point where you can make payroll, money starts to add up fast.
Source: Million Dollar Products · by Kyle Neath
Each project with a new team brings new tools and workflows. Tools I’ve been using this month. See previous listings for February 2015, April 2015.
- Fabric include Crashlytics Beta for deploying test builds and Twitter Digits for user onboarding.
- Parse – for user management and uploading video files
- Fastlane – for deployment of test builds and screenshot generation for App Store listing.
- Balsamic Mockups 3 – upgraded to the latest version (free upgrade from purchase years ago – thanks :-))
- Soulver – part calculator, part spreadsheet, indispensable.
- Unicorns – live stream your iPhone screen. Useful for demoing, testing and more.
Can you sell your app in 30 words? No? Bad news, because that’s all you get in the App Store.
These screenshots show the small amount of space available for your app description.
These screenshots also highlight the importance of the app name. This is the only key information shown on the main App Store listing. It is also given a lot of real estate on the app detail screen.
The most important aspect of these screens are the screenshots. These take up the majority of the screen. The first screenshot can be an app preview video. With limited opportunities to sell to a user, these 15-30 second app preview videos are a great option.
Another common option is to add header/footer text or captions to your screenshots. This allows you draw attention to the key benefits or features of your app.
In summary, the most important parts of your app store listing are:
- App Icon
- App Title
- App Description
- What’s New
I’ve created App Store templates for experimenting with icons, descriptions and screenshots. This allows you to consider how a user will interact with your app at the point of sale.
This should be a significant consideration as part of your design process.
Using this information
You can use these screens as a starting point for creating your app. Build your sales messages into your plan from the start.
- Can you easily describe your app?
- Can you show the benefits of the app in a screenshot?
- Will your users understand it?
- Will it sell?
Download these free resources as PDF’s and start planning your app.
The last 1% of pixels in an app, take 10% of the time.
Quickly changing a button to have rounded corners and a coloured border is still not completely possible in Interface Builder. The use of Runtime Attributes does make it easier though.
With Expanding User-Defined Runtime Attributes in Xcode with Objective-C, a few more uses have come to light.
The list of possible values is wider than I realised including Boolean, NSNumber, NSString, CGPoint, CGSize, CGRect, NSRange, and UIColor. And it’s the inclusion of UIColor that makes it really useful. As long as you’re happy using the color picker.
But not even UIColor can help with a button border color. For that you’ll need CGColor. Mike Woelmer has provided a CALayer+RuntimeAttribute category to help.
While this approach keeps the view controller code cleaner, there do seem be some inefficiencies in applying the same attributes to multiple controls.
As mentioned by Sam Dods in his Interface Builder tutorial, this approach may lead to future code maintenance issues if other developers don’t realise that runtime attributes can be set in this way. More reason to share this knowledge further.
This post has been written in the spirit of “Write about something you’ve learnt, when you’ve just learnt it.” – Ash Furrow, echoed by NatashaTheRobot.
A quick roundup of roundups and reviews from WWDC 2015 on 8th June. The main announcements were iOS9 and watchOS2.
iOS 9 Release Notes
Mac Stories iOS9 Complete Review
Swift 2.0 Announcement
Developer Account Membership changes:
- Deploy to personal devices without membership
- Single membership
You’ll have to find Apple Music updates elsewhere 🙂
ThinkApps has launched a prototyping tool that allows you create interactive mockups of your Apple Watch idea. This provides a great way to get hands on with the device.
MarvelApp has released a new version of their app which included a Watch app. The new feature allows you to run your MarvelApp Watch prototype on your device.
A large amount of app development involves integrating with third party systems, typically via an API. More typically via JSON. Paw is a great tool for working with API’s. It’s super simple to create your requests and organise them into groups. I typically group by API call, staging or production, for various testing accounts. It also simply handles authentication.
Paw has code generators which export the ObjC code required for your API call. My workflow currently involves using Cocoa JSON Editor for this purpose. It’s more heavyweight approach will create ObjC classes for object models of the API response.
Using these tools allows you can quickly evaluate an API. They both offer a visual approach to modelling the data and structuring your classes.
For an indie developer it’s important to hear how other developers are working. Ben Scheirman of NSScreencast is posting an interesting series on his development of an app. Just watching how others work is really useful to spot shortcuts and efficiencies in development. A subscription is required for full access, but the first three videos (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) in this series are available for free.
A couple of tips from these first videos. SimPholders2 is a utility which saves minutes off the tedious process of navigating the Finder to the folder structure for your app in the simulator. gitignore.io will generate your gitignore file for your project.
MacID for iOS is the number 1 paid app (Monday 18th May 2015)
- £0.79 – Universal app
- Offers Apple Watch App
- All 5 screenshots have text heading with features and benefits.
- No App Preview video.
- 27 Ratings, the majority are 5 star.
- Top description is short and descriptive. Full length description details all features, all compatible iOS devices and Mac models.
- Related section for Top Paid iPhone Utilities Apps included Knock, priced at £3.99, offers Apple Watch App. 13 ratings with an average of 3 stars.
- iOS App Feature Bingo: Today Widget, Mac, TouchID, Apple Watch, Glance, iTunes, Notification Center, Bluetooth.
This is version 1.2 of the app. Version 1 released 15 Jan 2015, with Version 1.1 released 10 Mar 2015. Some early review indicate issues with app reliability. The majority of recent review are positive.
A truly beautiful website for MacID. More great copy for the app. All very Apple in design. Links through to his personal blog which has a couple of articles which appear to be his first experiments with the mechanisms that make up MacID. He also has an extensive run down of iOS8 features where he mentions the TouchID API.
The app has multiple peaks and troughs only recently levelling out at the top of the charts, primarily caused by the price change from £3.99 to £0.79.
Much can be learned from this app. A simple mechanic for the app. A simple well designed icon. The screenshots are selling this app. The price has been the trigger for the number one position.
It looks like that the app at the top of the App Store charts in mid May 2015 was probably first conceived at WWDC in June 2014. Just another App Store overnight app success.