The Idea Dude


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kiss Stickies

What on earth is a kiss stickie? Well, a couple of weeks ago, some of our friends were lamenting that most of the iPhone apps were for guys like iFart or beer apps. How about doing something for the girls, they said.

We did and Kiss Stickies was born.

What your friends see when they receive a kiss stickie from you is something like this...

So if you're following my tweets, you'll know why I was looking a lipstick colors and spending hours in Sephora stores!

Check us out at If you don't have an iPhone or iPod Touch, try our web lite version of KissStickies. You'll find the link on the right hand side under the AppStore logo.

Next time, you see me and I seem fixated by your lips, you'll know why! Hmmm, is that a crimson coral, or classic rouge.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The dude is the basement

Iteration is the chief killer of software development. It is also the necessary evil. We've just finished our second iPhone app and submitted it yesterday. This one is a paid app unlike our first one TheGoodBlogs Explorer. Our aim is to do a new app every 3 weeks. Looks like it's closer to a 4 week cycle for 2 people.

Iteration means reworking the images, the styling, the wording and even the workflow. Iteration will take 50-60% of your development cycle. Here's the breakdown on how it went.

  • Storyboarding. 2 days to flesh out the initial concept with graphical mockups (very important to do because it becomes your project template and helps with the workflow)
  • Framework. 1 week to design and build the basic framework, ie. how to go from screen to screen, what buttons are required, help screens etc. This is the wireframe stage where everything is pretty ugly.
  • Product. 1 week to make sure it all works smoothly and add the first round of creative (images, text etc).
  • Usability and iteration. This is the other ~2 weeks of changing the verbage, the titles, terminolgy, workflow, usability issues. Adding final colors, bug fixes.
  • Support services. 1 - 2 weeks. Adding a website and backend server services if the app requires it.

So if you go by the above template, when you think you're done, there's another 2 to 2.5 weeks to go. It is unlikely that any new app will take less than 6 person-weeks. If you do the math, that's close to $20,000 worth of development cost (minimum). Realistically, it means you would have to 30,000 copies (Apple takes 30%) for a 99c app to break even.

The real truth of Apple apps, sure some make a couple hundred of thousand but the majority make hundreds or thousands of dollars over a period of time (like 6 - 12 months). Take out the labour costs, marketing, etc., it is a tough business.

The lesson to learn, is if you're going to sell something for 99c you can't afford to take more than 6 weeks to build. While it may sell several hundred thousand copies, in all likelihood, it will sell several hundred or if you're lucky several thousand over time.

So this dude will remain in the basement for the foreseeable future until one of our apps bear reasonble fruit that will hopefully bring with it some sunshine.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The High Road

John Maxwell hits the nail on the head with the high road principle.

  • It's not what happens To you, but what happens In you that really matters.
  • High roaders see their own need for Grace, therefore they extend it to others.
  • High roaders are not victims, they choose to serve others.
  • High roaders set high standards for themselves than others would.

You can find the full text of the article here

Monday, March 09, 2009

Life patterns

In software we have what we call design patterns. They are what other industries call best practices and what in real life we call experience. Design patterns are templates. When we see a problem, we try to find a design pattern that fits. If it does, the implementation is simple because it has been done before and well-described and understood.

Reminded me that's what we do as humans although usually implicitly. We have design patterns for cooking, for breakfast, for solving conflicts. Usually the patterns evolve from experience, having faced the same situation more than once and having solved it in more than one way.

That's really what makes the difference between an expert and novice. It is usually the difference between a adult and a child. It is implicit competence. I'm not really smarter than my children, it's just that I have more life patterns that make me look smarter.

Unfortunately, the design patterns that we develop are not always go ones. We call them bad habits. It's us doing the same thing over and over again even when it is wrong. And sometimes we know it is wrong but we continue because it is convenient and there is a pattern that we follow easily.

So often we forget to ask ourselves, not what we should start doing but we should stop doing.