Essential Designs Software https://www.essentialdesigns.net App Developers from Vancouver, B.C Mon, 10 Jun 2019 17:14:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Website versus Web App https://www.essentialdesigns.net/website-versus-web-app/ Thu, 06 Jun 2019 22:07:57 +0000 https://www.essentialdesigns.net/?p=17574 Website vs Web App: What’s the Difference?   At Essential Designs, we often get mistaken for a web design company, which is an entirely different bag […]

The post Website versus Web App appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
Website vs Web App: What’s the Difference?

 

At Essential Designs, we often get mistaken for a web design company, which is an entirely different bag of worms than what we do (web application development). We have focused our business less on web design, and more on data-driven software development. This includes mobile applications, web applications, and custom software. Here’s a simplified rundown on the difference between a Website versus Web App.

 

Websiteswebsite vs web app

We know these. You’re on one! Websites, accessible through browsers, display useful content. They are navigable and can present digital content, images, video, and audio.  Websites (vs web apps) are static, meaning the content doesn’t update dynamically. Most sites are built using HTML, CSS, and maybe some JavaScript.

Websites are one-way informational feeds, they do not allow viewers to interact or communicate back to the site. Mobile websites are designed specifically for smaller touch screens, and responsive design websites automatically adjust to the size and type of browser in which they are being displayed.

 

Web Appswebsite vs web app

Web applications are websites with functionality and interactive elements. Gmail, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. are all web apps that are dynamic, and built for user engagement. 

Because web apps are extremely customizable and can perform a wide range of functionality, they are generally more difficult to build and require an experienced team of software developers. A web application is computer software accessed through a web browser, often connected to a database to provide an interactive experience specific to the individual using it. In Web Apps, Data can be referenced, stored, and accessed through a customized interface to simplify the delivery of information to your customer.

 

Examples of great Websites:

https://vancouver.ca/ – while this could be confused for a web app because of the size and depth, there are no interactive elements to the site. To use interactive features like Paying a parking ticket, you are taken to an external web app link.

https://www.intersection.is/ – a very pretty, but simple agency website.

http://www.jonathandacosta.com/ – a beautifully functional portfolio/design site with an emphasis on responsive design for mobile viewers.

http://www.croptheblock.com/ – filmmaking group with several locations, with video feed directly on their website.

Examples of great Web Apps:

https://mail.google.com/ – the Gmail web app is responsive for any device, and they’ve built connected native apps for Android and iOS devices as well. It is a powerful and simple app with functionality like Email, Calendar, Google Drive, live chat, and more.

https://twitter.com/ – the social media platform who invented the 128 char “tweet”. With a simplified layout, moderated content and powerful servers, it is easy to see how 13 years in the making, it is one of the most widely used social media platforms on the planet.

https://www.wikipedia.org/ – while it can deceptively appear like a brochure, informational website, Wikipedia is actually a powerful, multilingual web app. The Wiki knowledge base enables users to view and collaboratively modify content and structure of it’s pages directly from their web browsers.

https://www.kayak.com – a powerful aggregator of data, Kayak collects flight, hotel, and rental car information from a slew of websites then filters and organizes the content presented to the User based on their search criteria.

https://www.amazon.ca/ – one of the most powerful shopping platforms on the planet, Amazon is also one of the largest cloud computing platforms, as well as distributing video, music and audiobooks through various subsidiaries.

 

By Mary MacPherson, Digital Marketing Manager @Essential Designs

Authored by Mary MacPherson

Mary is a popular Vancouver DJ and has been working in the high tech field since her inception as a web developer at Newbridge Networks in 1996.

The post Website versus Web App appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
How to Clear your Cache https://www.essentialdesigns.net/how-to-clear-your-cache/ Wed, 15 May 2019 16:16:10 +0000 https://www.essentialdesigns.net/?p=17388 How to Clear your Cache When building and testing software and web apps, the first thing your Project Manager will tell you is “it’s important […]

The post How to Clear your Cache appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
How to Clear your Cache

clear your cacheWhen building and testing software and web apps, the first thing your Project Manager will tell you is “it’s important to clear your cache”.  The cache is like a storage locker for assets from web sites and apps that you visit, where items are stored to facilitate faster loading when you return to that URL.  This stored information allows for a much faster user experience and uses less internet bandwidth during the session.

Clearing the cache means emptying it out, so that the next time you visit a web URL, the page assets are newly downloaded.  If a software project being developed has had design or code changes, clearing your cache is a quick way to ensure you are seeing the latest version that is available.

 

Browser Refresh

Oftentimes, you can force your browser to clear itself without fully emptying your stored cache by holding down the Shift button and pressing the Reload button in the browser toolbar (or the shortcut key F5). Your browser will ignore the cache and load all resources from the web page again.

So why bother clearing your full cache?

The quick & simple response:  web pages may download additional content such as JavaScript, which isn’t part of the initial page loading process. The resources can be cached and may still load from the cache even after a hard reload, which means it’s necessary to fully empty your cache in order to see updates from your development team to the scripts and functionality.

 

Clear Your Cache: Google Chrome

  1. Click on the menu button situated in the upper right corner.
  2. Go to ‘More tools’
  3. Click Clear browsing data.
  4. In the pop-up box on the next page, choose the ‘Advanced’ tab.
  5. Choose Cookies and other site data, and Cached files and images, and click Clear Data.
  6. Exit/quit all browser windows and re-open the browser.
    clear cache cookies chrome

 

Clear Your Cache: Mozilla Firefox

  1. Click on the menu button situated in the upper right corner.
  2. Click on Options.
    clear cache and cookies firefox
  3. From the left menu items, choose ‘Privacy & Security’
  4. Scroll down to ‘Cookies and Site Data’ and click Clear Data.
  5. Exit/quit all browser windows and re-open the browser.
    clear cache firefox

 

Clear Your Cache: Microsoft Edge

  1. Click on the menu button situated in the upper right corner.
  2. Choose Settings.
    clear cache edge
  3. Under Clear browsing data, click on Choose what to clear.
  4. Check the boxes next to Cookies and saved website data and Cached data and files.
  5. Click Clear.
  6. Exit/quit all browser windows and re-open the browser.
    edge clear cache and cookies

 

Clear Your Cache: Internet Explorer

  1. Delete Internet Explorer (kidding! kind of! not really!)
  2. Select Tools > Internet Options.
  3. Click on the General tab and then the Delete button.
  4. Make sure to uncheck Preserve Favorites website data and check both Temporary Internet Files and Cookies.
  5. Click Delete.
  6. Exit/quit all browser windows and re-open the browser.
    clear cache internet explorer

 

 

By Mary MacPherson, Digital Marketing Manager @Essential Designs

Authored by Mary MacPherson

Mary is a popular Vancouver DJ and has been working in the high tech field since her inception as a web developer at Newbridge Networks in 1996.

The post How to Clear your Cache appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
What is an FSD? https://www.essentialdesigns.net/what-is-an-fsd/ Thu, 09 May 2019 21:44:20 +0000 https://www.essentialdesigns.net/?p=17180 What is a Functional Specification Document? Important first steps when building an app   A Functional Specification Document (FSD) is a document designed to give […]

The post What is an FSD? appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
What is a Functional Specification Document?

Important first steps when building an app

 

A Functional Specification Document (FSD) is a document designed to give an overview of how a software system, mobile app or web app functions. The document gives a detailed step-by-step outline of each item’s functionality and flow.  You can think of an FSD as a blueprint to an architect: a guide to understanding how something will function, and the expected behavior of that system.

At Essential Designs, we create an FSD after the initial wireframe and quoting phase of our development process in order to map out each feature’s specific functionality and the correct user flow for different user roles (aka Administrator, logged in User, anonymous User, etc.) The FSD is a labor of love, as it can take a bit of time to fully map out every little aspect, but a good FSD confirms that the development team, design team, QA team, and project managers all understand exactly how the project should function. This is an imperative step to establish that all parties involved in the software development are on the same page, and the end result is an application that performs in the way the client expects.

 

Who Writes it?

FSDs created at the start of each project are a collaborative effort between the development team and the UI/UX design team. The reason for this is multi-fold:

  • The development lead takes in the initial project requirements and estimates out the specifics of, and the hours required to build each feature.
  • The UI/UX team builds the initial wireframes and clickable mockups to give a visual representation of the features and user flow.
  • The development lead will review and confirm that the planned data functionality match the approved designs.
  • On completion, the document is delivered to the client.
  • After client feedback and approval, milestone dates are assigned to each leg of development as outlined in the document.

 

What Goes in it?

At ED, we combine Functional Requirements and Use Cases, and User Stories to give a combined expectation of the project flow and features as a whole.

  • Functional Requirements are “system shall” type statements, outlining general functionality, for example, “The system shall allow users to register and create a profile” or “The system shall have report options which can be exported by the Admin”.
  • Use Cases are a series of steps, presented in their order of action, to give a sort of ‘play-by-play’. Example: “User logs in and is redirected to the pricing page, where they are prompted to select from three drop-down menus, which contain: ***”

Combining the information gives an overall project snapshot as well as a step-by-step walkthrough, which makes the project easily attainable, comprehensive, and clearly mapped out.

 

FSD Changes and Additions

When the document is delivered to the client, it is then the client’s job to:

  1. Review
  2. Make amendments or ask questions where necessary
  3. Sign off

This necessary process confirms that the design and development team are on the same page as the client, making sure expectations can be fully met, and the proper functionality will be developed (as predicted during the quoting process).

Ultimately the end goal of the FSD is to meaningfully align a client’s feature desires with the design and development teams functionality, usability, and logic. The functional specification document helps to keep each software project on track in order to deliver milestones that work as expected and are carried out on time.

 

By Mary MacPherson, Digital Marketing Manager @Essential Designs

Authored by Mary MacPherson

Mary is a popular Vancouver DJ and has been working in the high tech field since her inception as a web developer at Newbridge Networks in 1996.

The post What is an FSD? appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
A Guide For Startups Who Want To Make An App https://www.essentialdesigns.net/guide-to-make-an-app/ Thu, 11 Apr 2019 17:09:16 +0000 https://www.essentialdesigns.net/?p=17115 Why You Don’t Need To Make An App: A Guide For Startups This article was originally written by Victoria Collins, a contributor for Forbes.   When you […]

The post A Guide For Startups Who Want To Make An App appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
Why You Don’t Need To Make An App: A Guide For Startups

This article was originally written by Victoria Collins, a contributor for Forbes.  

When you want to make an app, you should forget that you want to build an app and focus on the fact that you want to build a solution to your customer’s problems. If that solution is a digital one, there are several options.

 

Make An App

There are several mobile solutions for your customers. GETTY

You’re a startup working on a great app idea, you may be lucky enough to have someone technical on your team but perhaps not. Perhaps you’re a company with an online or offline service that wants to get in the pockets of your customers. You’ve read some articles on how to create your app, and you’ve outlined some ideas, but what next. This article focuses on the concrete step of what digital product you want to build, which can be particularly complex for someone without any technical experience.

When you want to make an app, you should forget that you want to build an app and focus on the fact that you want to build a solution to your customer’s problems. If that solution is a digital one, there are several options. Here’s a brief outline of some mobile-friendly options to help you choose the right one for your clients and your business and at least challenge the reflex to build a native app.

 

Understanding what app means

The first thing you need to do is understand what the word app can mean. There are two main ways to build a digital product for mobile: native apps and web apps (web applications). Native apps are digital products that work on the operating system of your mobile phone and can use your phones features, a bit like an in-house employee who has the keys to all the doors. Web apps are digital products that work through the internet browser of your mobile phone which can use some features of your phone. They’re like external workers you hire in and have the keys to some doors, can still provide a great service and potentially work for you full-time if you wish.

Native apps are coded with a different code for each operating system. This means if you want to make an app that works on Apple Phones and Android phones, you’ll need to build it twice with different codes. A web-app is built once, with one set of coding and works on all mobile phones (as well as on desktops). To make things simple, I’ll also make a distinction between website and web app. A website is informational, and a web app is interactive.

 

Native Apps: the pros and cons

Once you’ve downloaded a native app, it’s a more autonomous solution. They offer a user experience that’s speedy, works offline and looks good. A native app can access all the features on your phone such as the camera, the contact list, GPS and Bluetooth making the best use of what your phone has to offer.

On the other hand, however, native apps are time-consuming and costly to develop. They are also less flexible and have high maintenance costs. They have lengthy download times and need frequent upgrades which can be frustrating for users. Furthermore, you can’t use search engines or web-based links to bring users directly to the app in the app store. This means there are more barriers to get users to download the app and start using it. Examples are all around you such as Facebook, Instagram and Monzo.

 

Web Apps: the pros and cons

Web Apps, on the other hand, are cheaper to develop, more flexible and have lower maintenance costs. They can have faster download times and are very easy to update. You also don’t need the app store to get downloaded.

The downsides of web apps are that they work through the web browser and do not have the same access to all the features on the phone. The user experience is not always optimized. As web apps evolve, however, the introduction of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) brings web apps ever closer to native apps. PWAs can be added as a shortcut on your phone, which looks like a native app shortcut, and also work offline. They also have the added advantage of functioning on a desktop as well as mobile. What’s more Android now allows PWAs to be added to the Play Store.

Mike James Liv, who created the startup Mive Media which focused on Progressive Web Apps, explains the core difference between Web Apps and Progressive Web Apps. He highlights that they work on the same technology but that PWAs use the latest capabilities of modern web browsers to provide a better mobile web experience.

PWAs were championed by Google as early as 2015 and finally accepted by Microsoft and Apple in 2018, so they can now be used on Apple and Microsoft devices. Various case studies are showing the increasing potential of PWAs. Ola, the leading cab aggregator in India, implemented a PWA which was 300X smaller than their Android App and 500X smaller than their iOS app. This resulted in a 68% increase in mobile traffic in Tier two and three cities (cities with populations of 20,000 to 90,000). Lancôme looked to PWA technology when they saw that despite getting more traffic on mobile, their conversion rate was only 15% on mobile, compared to 38% on desktop. In 2017 conversion rates increased by 17% on their PWA. Bounce rates have been down by 35% Year-on-Year and the average order up 11%, and as a result, they’ve seen a 36% life in mobile revenue.

 

Detach yourself from the outcome and choose the best solution for you

This article is not a comprehensive guide to which solution to take but aims to challenge the reflex to make an app for a specific device. Take a step back and realize that there are several ways of building a digital product that’s good for your client and your business. Other options not covered may include solutions such as Facebook add-ins, chatbots or a simpler website to test your idea. It may depend on your company stage, your ambitions as well as your customers but take a step back, focus on the problem and take a moment to analyze the solutions before jumping into creating an app if you don’t have to. There is possibly a better solution out there.

 

The post A Guide For Startups Who Want To Make An App appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
Your Project Manager https://www.essentialdesigns.net/your-project-manager/ Thu, 14 Mar 2019 21:09:02 +0000 https://www.essentialdesigns.net/?p=16843 Your Project Manager What do they do? What is their role?    For each app development and software project we take on at Essential Designs, […]

The post Your Project Manager appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
Your Project Manager

What do they do? What is their role? 

 

For each app development and software project we take on at Essential Designs, we have an assigned Project Manager. The PM’s role is essentially intended to quarterback communication for the project to help keep the development team on the same page as our clients.

Developers are extremely good at project flow, coding, and development, and have a plethora of skills on the back-end of projects we take on, but typically communicating isn’t exactly their forte. For this reason, we have dedicated Project Managers to help troubleshoot, relay important information from developer to client (and vice versa), oversee project Sprints and Milestone deliveries, and QA test deliverables.

 

app project management vancouver


We employ Agile Software Development for all of our projects, whether they are mobile applications, web apps, or business software. 

‘Agile’ is a widely employed philosophy of software & mobile/web app development that essentially means an organized team works together to create projects in an evolutionary manner.

 

General Agile principles include:

1- Satisfy client requirements and continually develop the software

2- Deliverables are frequent and broken up into ‘Sprints’ to give the shortest time span between deliveries

3- Collaborative development is necessary to produce the best results

Your Project Manager’s main role is to oversee the development process: confirming that questions from or to our development team get fully answered so that everyone is on the same page. “Logic” questions can have a myriad of answers and use case scenarios, so clarification is often needed if specific scenarios haven’t been fully vetted in your scope document or wireframe.

PM’s are available to respond to calls and emails with clients, relay delivery dates, update bug sheets and test progress. Our technical PMs also help set up hosting servers, publish finished apps to the App Store or Google Play, and can dive into setting up Secure Socket Layer URLs for web apps to protect users’ privacy.

 

Agency versus Freelancer (the Benefits)

> Multiple coders
At Essential Designs, we typically assign 2 back end developers to each project, who are overseen and assisted by a Technical Lead

> Enhanced customer service
Each project includes a dedicated Project Manager to liaise between the development team and the client

> Testing teams
Each project milestone has a QA team to verify builds, find bugs and communicate issues back to the development team

> In-house UI/UX design
Our in-house design team works on projects from wireframe through completion to expedite the design process and to assure design quality

> Reliability
Having been in business for over 10 years, we provide our customers with ongoing support

> Communication
From the Sales department to the dedicated Project Manager, we deliver constant communication as the project evolves

 

Project Management Tools

Project Management is a big task, and some of the key tools we use help facilitate organization, and communication.  Our most-relied upon software includes:

Basecamp

Basecamp is a SaaS platform that facilitates communication between all of our departments. Check out our more in-depth article to learn more about using Basecamp.

Loom

Loom is a quick & easy video creation service. We use Loom when walking through wireframes, testing software, and clarifying questions as it is a quick and easy way to make sure all parties involved in a project are on the same page – when they can’t be in the same room. You can learn more about Loom on our productivity apps article.

Join.Me

Joinme is a video conferencing tool similar to Skype that is accessible via your browser (no install required), and is quick, reliable and free. Easily communicate with one or multiple people, screen share, record meetings for later reference, and file share for collaborative online meetings.

Lightshot

Lightshot is a Chrome browser extension that takes screen capturing to a whole new level! No more ‘print screen’ and pasting/manipulating the image into an image-editing software, Lightshot allows the user to quickly capture a section of your screen and edit directly on it with drawing, arrows, and text.

 

By Mary MacPherson, Digital Marketing Manager @Essential Designs

Authored by Mary MacPherson

Mary is a popular Vancouver DJ and has been working in the high tech field since her inception as a web developer at Newbridge Networks in 1996.

The post Your Project Manager appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
How to Use Basecamp https://www.essentialdesigns.net/how-to-use-basecamp/ Tue, 26 Feb 2019 23:29:50 +0000 https://www.essentialdesigns.net/?p=16714 Basecamp Project Management Platform   Using the Basecamp platform has been invaluable to our organization. Basecamp facilitates communication between all of our team members in […]

The post How to Use Basecamp appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
Basecamp Project Management Platform

 

Using the Basecamp platform has been invaluable to our organization. Basecamp facilitates communication between all of our team members in various departments and our customers in order to provide the utmost transparency and a high level of communication during the development process.

 

basecamp project management for mobile app development


Developers are extremely good at coding, but more often than not, kind of terrible at communicating. We discovered this kink in the app development project ropes early on, and have worked hard as a company to overcome this hurdle.

We employ Agile Software Development for all of our projects, whether they are mobile applications, web apps, or business software. Along with this development philosophy, we implement organized project management processes to provide a high level of client communication. Bridging this communication gap is what really sets a good agency apart from hiring an individual freelancer. 

 

Agency versus Freelancer (the Benefits)

 

> Multiple coders
At Essential Designs, we typically assign 2 back end developers to each project, who are overseen and assisted by a Technical Lead

> Enhanced customer service
Each project includes a dedicated Project Manager to liaise between the development team and the client

> Testing teams
Each project milestone has a QA team to verify builds, find bugs and communicate issues back to the development team

> In-house UI/UX design
Our in-house design team works on projects from wireframe through completion to expedite the design process and to assure design quality

> Reliability
Having been in business for over 10 years, we provide our customers with ongoing support

> Communication
From the Sales department to the dedicated Project Manager, we deliver constant communication as the project evolves

 

Basecamp Basics

 

One of the hands-down best things about Basecamp? You don’t have to use it!

We understand you’re busy, or not super tech savvy, and one of the beautiful integrations of Basecamp is the ability to reply within your email and never have to log in to the actual platform if that is your preference. For every project we take on, we’ll start a new project in Basecamp, and add our clients to it. You’ll receive an email that looks like this:

Following the steps is pretty straight-forward, and you’ll be set up in no time.

logging in to basecamp

Once logged in to your project page, you will find assigned team members (Sales, Project Managers, UI/UX Designers, etc.) who will coordinate all communication between you (the client) and the Essential Designs development team. Clients can post comments, messages, events, and to-do items!

For more information, check out Basecamp’s list of ‘How To’ Guides.

You can also explore the tutorial videos to Master the Basecamp basics in 15 minutes.

 

By Mary MacPherson, Digital Marketing Manager @Essential Designs

Authored by Mary MacPherson

Mary is a popular Vancouver DJ and has been working in the high tech field since her inception as a web developer at Newbridge Networks in 1996.

The post How to Use Basecamp appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
10 Tips to Optimize App Engagement https://www.essentialdesigns.net/10-tips-optimize-app-engagement/ Thu, 14 Feb 2019 18:58:04 +0000 https://www.essentialdesigns.net/?p=16660 Discover insights and hear how other developers have optimized engagement to successfully retain users in the long-term.   This article with 10 tips to optimize […]

The post 10 Tips to Optimize App Engagement appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
Discover insights and hear how other developers have optimized engagement to successfully retain users in the long-term.

 

This article with 10 tips to optimize app engagement was originally written by Jeni Miles, on GooglePlayDev and published on Medium.  

 

Most app developers aim to have an engaged user base who find their app valuable and return to it on a regular basis. Also, anyone who’s ever bothered to hit the ‘install’ button hopes that the app delivers on it’s promise to fulfill a need, or solve a problem!

Blindly optimizing engagement metrics for their own sake isn’t consistent with reaching long-term business goals, and the goals of people using your product. Trying to successfully retain existing users over trying to acquire new ones makes monetary sense, as poor retention leads to higher acquisition costs.

In this article I will recommend ten ways to optimize for a successful, engaging app, which includes some insights shared at the Google Play, Sustainable Engagement Day in 2018, and Playtime 2018. You can also watch the full event session below.

Smarter engagement tactics: Do more with less session at Playtime EMEA 2018

Tip 1 — Meaningful features and analytics

Health app Lifesum asked themselves: “how do you know if you’re improving your product?”. Retention and conversion metrics are great ways to measure whether feature usage is improving, but these ‘vanity’ metrics don’t always take into account how users actually experience your product. According to Lifesum’s ex-senior designer Rafael Coimbra, improving features does not necessarily translate into making your user base more successful.

At Lifesum, it was clear there were lost signals between the in-app behaviors of users, and their reasons and motivations. Rafael created a generative worksheet to better measure meaningful behaviors and identify driving reasons and values of its customers. You can check the Meaningful Analytics worksheet here.

Similarly, a core user action for dating apps is typically the number of conversations users initiate and the amount of messages they send each other. Badoo product manager, Timur Garifzyanov, explained at Playtime (see video above), how they experimented and saw an increase in the number of chats started in their app by adding a feature whereby people could send hearts to each other to start a conversation.

This feature resulted in a positive 20% increase in the number of messages sent, but the reply rate was very low (at -6% for males), and the retention for female users decreased to 1%, as reported by Badoo.

It became clear that meaningless conversation starters did not help people achieve what they expected from the app. To fix this, Badoo introduced a new feature called the ‘bad opener blocker’ which made it actually harder to send meaningless messages. This resulted in less messaging overall, but more meaningful conversations between users, and a better reply rate.

 

Tip 2: Data can tell you where the problem is…

How do you measure the efficiency of your app based on what your users want to achieve with it? The language-learning app ABA English believes data can only tell you where the problem is but not what is about. That’s why they decided to identify and leverage qualitative data coming directly from people using their app. This led them to add an additional step in their onboarding process and subsequently achieve 2x increase in user activations.

How? During the onboarding ABA users were asked to select their language level before starting with the content. ABA’s quantitative data showed no major drops at this stage.

However, customers interviews showed that users didn’t know how to really assess their language knowledge. This led to churn later in the funnel and low engagement if the wrong level was picked. ABA then took the potentially counterintuitive decision to make their onboarding longer and by including the additional level test their users activations doubled up!

Discover more from ABA English in the Playtime event recording above.

Tip 3 — The ‘ultimate’ way to communicate with your users

The team at Ultimate Guitar foster a culture with human-to-human communication at its core that’s not the sole reserve of the customer support team.

They created a human to human “H2H” board where the entire team can see all mentions of Ultimate Guitar on social media. At 10am everyday, there’s a strict “no code, no design, no meetings” rule, and the team, from designers to developers to analysts, communicate directly with real customers.

Ultimate Guitar’s COO Mikhail Trutnev believes that implementing this human-to-human approach helped ensure that “product teams started to empathize with our users. And this, in turn, had led to the team protecting product users from overly aggressive marketing campaigns even if they were deemed effective”. The team does not even consider some monetization ideas and only comes up with experiments that go in accord with H2H principles, thanks to this empathetic approach. As a result of this, Ultimate Guitar has reported an increase in revenue and decrease in negative feedback simultaneously.

Tip 4 — Start where your users start

By watching replays, tracking a leakage map, and identifying that their paywall was often interruptive to the learning experience, language-learning app Busuu realized that they had a problem with their first-time user experience.

Their hypothesis was that there was a lack of consistency starting with the Google Play Store assets. By focusing too narrowly on granular changes to copy and styling with metrics that were detached from their outcomes further down the funnel, the value proposition was hard to understand and so they had to fix it.

Following Samuel Hulick’s recommendations and referencing his Useronboard.com onboarding checklist, they created their own first-time user experience principles:

  1. Consistent imagery & recurring themes (starting at the Google Play Store)
  2. Showcasing the Premium option early (coupled with a free trial)
  3. Removing distractions (progressive disclosure)
  4. Celebrating progress
  5. Unlocking more content based upon activity
  6. Setting expectations and getting commitment

Several experiments later, they have been able to make incremental gains to key metrics such as download > registration rate and friends added/accepted increased. Throughout this iterative process, the team regularly watches videos, runs tests, and ideates/hypothesizes to ensure they’re constantly evaluating the first-time experiences of real users.

OneFootball also understood that successful activation is critical for optimizing their retention rates. A key activation metric is ‘users with a favorite team set’, as users who have a favorite team have higher 7/14/30D retention rates than those who don’t.

OneFootball’s main takeaway is that activation factors should only be measured based on the impact they have on short and long-term retention.

Tip 5 — Give your users a head start

Especially true of the early stages of the user experience, typically there’s a set of core tasks users must complete in order to derive value from your app. Last year, Antony Ribot spoke at Google Play Playtime event about how to integrate behavioral thinking into your app design process.

One key concept he referenced was the “endowed progress effect”, which provides people with a feeling that they’ve made a great start already. This is inspired by findings from a study (The Endowed Progress Effect: How Artificial Advancement Increases Effort, by Nunes and Drèze in the Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 32, №4, in March 2006), which tested how prefilling car-wash loyalty cards with two stamps affected card completion by comparing a card with eight stamps (and zero pre-marked) to one with ten stamps (with two pre-marked).

The two pre-marked stamps on the 10-stamp card conveyed certain steps of a task as already complete, reframing the task as one that is in progress but incomplete, rather than not yet begun. This in turn increases the likelihood of task completion and can also decrease completion time.

To apply this principle to your product, consider visually denoting progress as a partially completed list of ticks, even if the tasks users have completed are as simple as opening the app and signing up!

Tip 6 — Personalize push

One of the core goals of the shopping list app Bring! is to help users stay organized. So how did they go about this?

  1. They created a session model.
  2. This learns the typical behavior of their users.
  3. Then, if the session model detects an anomaly (e.g. someone didn’t fill out their shopping list at a predicted time), a personalized push reminds the user “here are some ideas for your shopping list”.

Tip 7 — Identify additional app use cases

To make their app as useful and as engaging as possible, Hostelworld wanted to go beyond the booking (the app’s core transactional use case). To identify additional use cases and rethink the customer journey, they made use of Think with Google’s research on travel micro-moments.

One of the core features they created based on this approach was the new Hostel Noticeboard. Hostels are able to add local events through the Hostelworld inbox, and in turn this information is used to enhance the customer journey through being surfaced in the app using an Events API, as well as yielding more personalized push notifications and the ability to integrate with the customer’s calendar to ensure they don’t miss out!

In addition, Hostelworld knew that many of their users were solo backpackers. To create more meaningful experiences for their customers, Hostelworld used the Google Cloud Translate API to create the “Speak the World” translation feature which enabled travellers to speak 43 global languages. The feature garnered success, sparking 3.5 million conversations since launch as reported by Hostelworld.

Tip 8 — Implement LiveOps for apps

Game developers have been successfully re-engaging their users in the form of LiveOps. Put simply, LiveOps involve running “games-as-a-service”. This means the game becomes a dynamic product that is constantly changing, giving players new experiences each day. The goals of LiveOps are to augment engagement, stimulate monetization, and to reduce player churn. We see three key components to LiveOps: content, sales and events, and this combination has proved to be very successful.

For example, the innovative language learning app Memrise ran a back-to-school offer to motivate users at the start of the new school year. They released beginner and advanced courses for new language combinations and ran a global campaign offering a discount for their annual subscription, which led to additional engagement and a reported 32% increase in revenue.

Tip 9 — Community and comparison

Runtastic’s goal is to help every individual live a more aware and active lifestyle. One of the core services they provide within Runtastic Running is community and comparison via their Groups feature.

This feature not only creates a sense of community within the product itself, but allows users to engage in friendly competition through the Group Leaderboard feature. The team found that users in a group are more likely to be regularly active and significantly less prone to churn.

To implement leaderboards within your app successfully, consider the following:

  • Position the user in the middle of the leaderboard where possible (so they see the user/player above and below them).
  • Keep leaderboard results fresh by considering the right cadence of updates
  • Comparison features are most meaningful when players are on the cusp of beating others, or at the brink of losing!
  • The N-effect suggests that increasing the number of competitors can decrease competitive motivation, so limit group size by time/location, or both, or create micro-leaderboards (e.g. users’ friends or similar people).

 

Tip 10 — Don’t forget about the basics

Ultimately, people using your product do not care about engagement statistics, but about what value your app brings to their lives.

At the 2018 Playtime event, communication app Truecaller explained how they achieved an impressive 30% increase in DAU/MAU thanks to a mix of new features launches like messaging, notifications, and improved launch speed.

While doing so they also learnt a few important lessons:

  • Don’t forget about key Android Vitals stats when adding new features, for example crash rate and wake locks could bring more uninstalls and lower ratings.
  • Think carefully about how you’re educating your users about new features via notifications as people don’t want to feel overwhelmed by them.

The post 10 Tips to Optimize App Engagement appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Lunar New Year https://www.essentialdesigns.net/lunar-new-year-2019/ Mon, 04 Feb 2019 23:45:05 +0000 https://www.essentialdesigns.net/?p=16565 Lunar New Year 2019, also known as the Spring Festival, takes place at midnight on Tuesday, February 5th, 2019. The Spring Festival is intended to mark […]

The post 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Lunar New Year appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
Lunar New Year 2019, also known as the Spring Festival, takes place at midnight on Tuesday, February 5th, 2019. The Spring Festival is intended to mark the passing of the coldest days (although this year it seems to be marking the beginning, in Vancouver at least!)

This year is the Year of the Pig, which brings many traditions and superstitions that are meant to dictate our next year. Vancouver has such a wealth of Asian culture (besides China, countries such as North & South Korea, and Vietnam celebrate Lunar New Year as well). Vancouver is abounding with food, drinks, and events to ring in the Lunar New Year for 2019.

 

lunar new year of the pig 2019

 

 

7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Lunar New Year

 

  1. The Lunar New Year Spring Festival is technically 15 days long – making it one of the longest holidays. 
  2. The date of lunar new year changes annually.
  3. There is a list of funny superstitions; things you shouldn’t do, for example cutting your hair the week before is taboo or using scissors on the day of.
  4. Chinese New Year desserts have special meanings usually revolving around puns in their names.
  5. Your zodiac year is actually bad luck – there are 12 animals in the cycle, and at the end of each cycle is your ‘rebirth’ year.
  6. The little red envelopes are given out to send good wishes (and money) like an annual bonus.
  7. The Spring Festival ends with the Lantern Festival on the 16th day.

 

Spring Festival Events in Vancouver 2019

 

Spring Festival is a big deal in Vancouver!  Below is a list of some resources to help you find and participate in the best festivities:

 

 

Wishing you all Gung Hei Fat Choy in 2019! lunar new year parade vancouver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mary MacPherson

The post 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Lunar New Year appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
Groundhog Day 2019 https://www.essentialdesigns.net/groundhog-day-2019/ Fri, 01 Feb 2019 22:17:09 +0000 https://www.essentialdesigns.net/?p=16527 While the rest of Canada is experiencing the ‘polar vortex’ (aka it’s horribly cold), we’re busy enjoying crocus blooms in downtown Vancouver.  Our lucky climate […]

The post Groundhog Day 2019 appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
While the rest of Canada is experiencing the ‘polar vortex’ (aka it’s horribly cold), we’re busy enjoying crocus blooms in downtown Vancouver.  Our lucky climate on the coast seems to justify the ever-inflating housing market in times like these.

The folklore of Groundhog Day is that if he pops his head up and it’s cloudy, Spring will come early. However, if he sticks his head above ground and it is sunny, his shadow will scare him back down his hole, delaying the onset of Spring for weeks.

 

groundhog day bill murray

 

It’s very likely the little guy isn’t going to freeze his whiskers off by emerging from his warm home in the rest of the country, so Vancouver is truly holding the line for all of Canada.

 

6 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Groundhog Day

 

  1. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, February 2nd (Groundhog Day 2019) marks the midpoint between winter solstice in December and spring equinox in March. 
  2. Groundhog Day originated from an old German holiday, originally relying on bears to predict the weather.
  3. Groundhogs aren’t looking for their shadow – they’re actually assessing where their potential mates are hiding.
  4. On a hill in Punxsutawney called Gobbler’s Knob, the first Nostradamus groundhog was eaten after making his ‘prediction’.
  5. The date is shared with a Christian holiday called Candlemas, which celebrates the presentation of baby Jesus.
  6. Astronomy plays a large part in the day in the sense that it is a seasonal festival tied to the movement of the Earth around the sun.

Early Spring or Long Winter?

 

Since anywhere east of us in Canada is pretty much out of the prediction running this year, we looked into the weather forecast for tomorrow here in Vancouver and things are looking… BAD! I mean, we’re about to actually get SNOW in Vancouver!  

 

 

groundhog day weather prediction 2019

Sorry, Canada.

Spring will likely be delayed this year, but out West that shouldn’t be too long from now. Hey, at least you can get ready for the inaugural cherry blossom photoshoots from Vancouverites coming to your icy Instagram feeds shortly!

 

By Mary MacPherson, Eh

Authored by Mary MacPherson

Mary is a popular Vancouver DJ and has been working in the high tech field since her inception as a web developer at Newbridge Networks in 1996.

The post Groundhog Day 2019 appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
Three Reasons All Companies Should Invest In Tech https://www.essentialdesigns.net/investing-in-software/ Thu, 17 Jan 2019 19:24:39 +0000 https://www.essentialdesigns.net/?p=16395 This article was originally posted on Forbes Technology Council CommunityVoice by Nick Bawa, CEO, and Co-Founder at Covintus, Inc., leveraging the strength of a 500,000-member online development […]

The post Three Reasons All Companies Should Invest In Tech appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>
This article was originally posted on Forbes Technology Council CommunityVoice by Nick Bawa, CEO, and Co-Founder at Covintus, Inc., leveraging the strength of a 500,000-member online development community to innovate custom software.  

investing in tech forbes article image

Small business owners and startup dreamers know the importance of technology when it comes to communicating with customers, potential clients, other businesses and the entire world. Though it may seem overwhelming to incorporate deeper tech than Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn on a small business budget, it is possible. And historically, it’s proven crucial to the growth of a business, regardless of shape or size, to invest in new technology.

As the CEO and founder of an online development software community, I’ve developed these three reasons all companies should dedicate some of their funds to software development and other tech tools:

 

  1. Tech Investments Are Worth The (Low) Overhead

First and foremost, it is important to note that the implementation of technology does not have to be expensive. Startups often balk at the thought of springing budget money on software development or other tech; however, a Forbes article, provides a detailed breakdown of the real cost of technology when stacked up against other regular business expenses. The findings demonstrated that office space costs on average $2 per hour, a “knowledge worker” costs approximately $60 per hour and technology such as a high-end workstation (a more advanced computer that allows a business to use high-tech solutions without lag or other technical issues) or new software development with a pro costs exponentially less at just $0.20 per hour. Though staff and the appearance of the business space do influence clientele, it’s worth it to pay cents on the hour for the tools that will allow for greater reach to a broader audience.

Secondly, for technology to be created that will suit small businesses and startups, and not just their big business counterparts, startups have to play a part in the investment process. If a tech group such as a software development company sees there is a market in the small business world for their offerings — including software or app development, coding, UX, web development and design — they will be more inclined to create new and improved small business solutions.

 

  1. Software Development Can Improve Business

Smart software has proven to take businesses to the next level. It started in the ’90s when companies that have since ascended to great heights were just embarking on their success journeys in search of algorithms that would be able to take their ideas to the next level. And just like the software developers who helped those entrepreneurs launch their big ideas, software development companies of today are looking for the next advance in smart software and beyond to turn a small business or startup into the next billion-dollar project.

The impact of new technology on businesses can be gauged from the popularity of cloud computing. Almost 40% businesses report better agility and responsiveness after they have deployed a cloud computing solution, such as SaaS.

As many software developers know, the faces and brains behind the newest startups are highly educated individuals who have grown up with technology since they were able to hold a tablet in their hands, and they know how to discover the next great software. Millennials want to work for themselves, and they want to succeed. Their investments in the tech industry, among others, have prompted an industry first: Small businesses have access to development, business software, apps and other products that are even better than the varieties used by big corporations from a couple of decades ago.

 

  1. Tech Investments Can Help Create Better Interactions with Customers

Consider the case of chatbots. They are a hit among the younger crowd, with 60% of millennials having interacted with a chatbot at least once. In fact, 70% of those millennials reported positively on their interaction. It does not come as a surprise, then, that the chatbot market is expected to reach $1.23 billion globally by 2025. With advancements in natural language processing and the rise of voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, chatbots are able to provide faster responses to customer queries, thus enabling better interactions with customers.

There is also the case of social media enabling better customer interactions. Eighty-four percent of small businesses in the U.S. use at least one social media platform to provide information to customers, and 80% of small enterprises use digital technology, such as instant messaging apps, to communicate with vendors and customers. As AI and machine learning technology start to mature, personalization in technology can be expected to become more commonplace as it becomes more affordable for small businesses.

Businesses that didn’t pay heed to the internet at the start of the 21st century had a hard time keeping up with the competition. The same holds true today when it comes to technology. Whether you’re part of a startup or an established small business, you should always be on the lookout for the next big innovation — not just to stay in the game but to build the next billion-dollar business.

The post Three Reasons All Companies Should Invest In Tech appeared first on Essential Designs Software.

]]>