Great App vs Good App: Quality over Quantity


Quality over Quantity

When the app store first opened, there were very few apps in existence, and many of them were quite ridiculous. Apps such as the Fart App were at the top of the app store, and quite frankly, it was easy to create something that could become a quick success.

But something happened. As more and more people built applications, it became more and more difficult to create an app that is considered, great! This is good and bad. It’s bad because it’s become more difficult to compete. But it’s good because now you have to be very serious about your craft in order to create a competitive application, which means that it filters out a lot of developers who really aren’t that serious about what they do.

So now, why the title, quality over quantity? Well, it’s a fact that humans are excited about new stuff; new features, new designs, new everything. As a developer, or simply someone who wants to make an app, it can be easy to get caught up in the madness of wanting “new” features. Most apps that begin to be developed are never finished because people simply want to do too much. So what’s wiser, is actually to focus on the quality of the features you have, rather than the quantity of features, in order to be competitive.

Now how can you do this?

Well make sure that as you implement new features, it’s polished before you move on. Always go for the wow factor. For example, instead of just having an alert box pop up to display something to the user, why not add an animation that displays the information in an eye catching way. Make sure that every little detail is well thought out for the feature. Make sure that it’s not only functional, but beautiful. Then after you’ve done this; move on. Don’t wait for perfection, but just make sure that it’s as good as you know you can make it before advancing.

This will take your app from good, to great.

Design in Time


There’s something very interesting about design that’s very unique to software development, and that is its subjectiveness.  The interesting thing about graphics is that beauty is really in the eye of the beholder.  What one person may think is amazing, another may think is okay.

Now there’s nothing wrong with this, but it can become an issue when developing an application.  Why?  Because it’s hard to figure out what is in the mind of your customer, and therefore it is hard to give them just what they want without having to make a million changes during the implementation phase.  Now how can you make sure that the customer gets what they desire, but that you still finish the project in good time.  Let’s look at a few very important things to keep in mind in order to finish your designs in time.

1.  Ask! Ask! Ask! – I’d say that the most important thing to do when trying to come up with the design for a customer’s application is to ask them enough questions to gather a good idea of what they want the application to look like.  When a customer explains an application the first time, very rarely will you have enough to build a mock up.  But you have to remember, often times, a mock up is the first thing that a customer wants to see.  So how can you make sure that you have enough information after the first few conversations, preferably the first.  Ask questions like these?

  • What style best represents this company?
  • What conclusion about your company do you want people to come to after viewing this application/website?
  • What application/website do you feel has the most similar feel to the application that you want built?
  • What do you want the overall feel or atmosphere of your website to be?

2.  Mock it up – The previous step will give you a general idea of where to start. Once you have a starting point, you can actually do a few quick and simple mock ups.  Make them not too specific, and don’t spend too much time on them.  You can do this in black and white.  The purpose of this mock up is just to get the ball rolling.  Chances are the finished product won’t look anything like the initial mock ups, but it will give the client some direction to go in.

3.  Consult with the customer – This step is extremely important.  This is where you speak with the customer, and you really start to get the full idea of what the end product will look like.  The customer will most likely have a million changes that he wants.  It’s very important that you write down each and every change that they want.  Remember though, at this point you haven’t actually started building out the actual UI.  You’re still doing all mock ups using some sort of an illustrator.  Remember, DON’T ACTUALLY START IMPLEMENTATION YET.

4.  Make the changes – Make every single change that the customer asks you for.  Make sure that the mock up is beautiful and looks almost like a finished product.  Now show this to the customer.  If the customer wants changes, make sure you make the changes only to the mock up.  At this point still do not actually start implementing the UI.

5.  Finalize the mock up – Once you’ve got the actual mock up looking just right, ensure that the customer wants no more changes whatsoever.  Make it known to the customer, that this is exactly how the end product will look.  Once the customer has agreed, and he is fully aware that after this there will be absolutely no more changes, start implementing.  It’s important that the customer understands that there are to be no more changes because making changes to UI once you’ve begun implementation is a real drag and slows things down tremendously.

6.  Start implementing – Now that you’re done with the mock up.  Implement the UI.  

That was simple, wasn’t it?  It’s important that you have definite steps with something like UI, because otherwise you will be working on it forever, and both you and the customer are bound to get irritated.  So don’t forget these six simple steps and you’ll have your DESIGN IN TIME.

3 Tips for Simple, Elegant, iOS Design


As an iOS Developer, you fully one understand one absolutely essential aspect of marketing.

“The apps that are beautiful…sale!!”

The thing is though, not everyone has a limitless supply of funds to pay designers.  And not everyone knows a designer who if you pay him, will actually deliver a quality product.  So the question is, how do you make sure that you’re design is one that will make the end user go…wow!  I’ve put together three simple tips and principles to think about when designing.  In the future, I’ll add more.  Hopefully this will help you in your endeavor of creating beautiful UIs.  At the end of each tip, I’ll show you an example of what I mean for each tip.

Tip 1 – “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery”

It is a fundamental truth that there are many apps out there that are stunningly gorgeous.  When you are going to create an app, why not look at some designs of others.  Here is what I do.

  1. I do a search on the app store for an app similar to the one that I’m about to make.
  2. Then I look at the first say 20 of them, and I narrow it down to about 3 that I find most beautiful.
  3. Then I just analyze the three apps and try to determine what makes them so elegant.
  4. Then I read the reviews and see what others are saying about them.   (Customers know what they want and they’ll be honest if they want to see something different.)
  5. After all this, I generally have an idea of what I want, and I begin my mock up.

The great thing about this system is that you have an idea of what others have already done that worked and that did not work.  Also, I find it easier to build something after I’ve seen something that I can kind of build off of.  Now this isn’t copying, it’s simply imitating.  Eventually you’ll be happy that others are imitating your app designs.

So let’s see an example.  Look at the Yahoo Weather.  What makes this so nice?


1)      Beautiful background pictures?

2)      Fonts are easy to see on the pictures because they make sure the images they use have dark areas where there is text?

3)      The icons are very consistent, and very simple?

4)      They utilize Flat UI?

5)      The font selections are perfect?

So then you would strive to imitate this screen, of course not an exact replica, but strive to use beautiful background pictures with well-placed fonts with good font selections, and Flat UI.

Tip 2 – “Keep it simple Socrates”

“Wisdom is with the modest one.”  What does that mean?  It means you have to understand your limitations.  If you’re not a graphics designer, don’t try to make some epic design with all kinds of rotating images and parallax scrolling, with particle affects.  All that’s going to happen is you’re going to have a jumbled up bunch of nonsense.  Instead, focus on simplicity.  Instead of having 20 things on the screen that are all kind of just thrown together, have 3 things done beautifully.   A good example of this is an app made by Fueled called Elevatr.  Look at the app screenshots below.


Do you notice how simple the first screen shot is?  There’s nothing fancy at all about this.  It’s simply a static picture with some text, but it does its job.  The second screenshot, is extremely elegant but simple, it’s simply just a table with some text.

Look at the 3rd screenshot.  What makes this screen so elegant?  Notice the user of colors makes the app very pleasing to the eye.  The way they have the information compressed in the boxes, and when you want to view all the information you SIMPLY click on the plus sign.

Now what makes all this so nice though, it’s well thought out colors, a well thought out image, and well thought out font selections and locations.  That’s it!!  Nothing fancy!!

Now ask yourself.  Could I do this?

The answer is an emphatic YES!!!

That’s what makes this so awesome.  It’s not overly complicated.   Simplicity is often better then complexity.

Tip 3 – “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”

If you want to have good designs, it is very important that you keep your eyes open for good designs in everything that you see.   What do I mean by that?  Well, it’s interesting how everything that we see, really has some sort of design, you just need to keep your eye open for it.  For example, when I went to CES in 2014, I was taking pictures of everything from cars to the carpet selection.  Why?  Because hidden there was design.


Look at this picture of a mustang interior.  Now, this looks like a beautiful interior, right?  Why not use these colors for a color scheme of an app?  Metallic silver, yellow, black, with maybe some ribbons of red and white.  You’d be amazed at how something like that could look!

Do you get the idea?  Use designs that you may have not thought of to give you ideas for an app.

So these are just a few tips that I wanted to share to help people to get some killer designs for their apps.  If anyone has any good links to their own designs, or to some cool tips, just leave a link or something in the comment.  Hope that this helps everyone who reads it.