Getting Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the App Store

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 Targeted at kids media content creators who want to produce iOS apps, but lack programming know-how and funding. Presented to Women in Children's Media, on the campus of Teachers College, Columbia University, August 3rd, 2011

Text of Getting Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the App Store

 Getting Ideas Out of Your Head AND Into the App Store TRACI LAWSON AUGUST 3, 2011 Producing Apps on Your Own In childrens media, were used to tiny budgets. We often say Theres no money! But what about when theres really no money? How do you get started? PHOTO CREDIT: PAUL MAYNE Sales Its important to not expect to make money. If your app is 99, you retain 69 from each sale. Sales in the App Store often look like this: SOURCE: TEN TOED, INC. Competition in the kids app market As of August 1, 2011, there were a total of 449,581 apps available in the App Store 73,181 are in the Games category. Thats 16.28%. 39,922 are in Education category. Thats 8.88%. SOURCE: 148APPS.BIZ iPhone Games-Educational Sales SAT, 7/30/2011BLUE CIRCLES = KIDS CONTENT BY INDEPENDENT DEVELOPERS WITH THEIR OWN IP THERE ARE 6 IN THIS TOP 25 BASED ON TELEVISION IP THERE ARE 8 IN THIS TOP 25 THAT ARE NOT CHILD-DIRECTED. iPhone Education Sales SAT, 7/30/2011 THESE ARE ALL INDEPENDENT, EXCEPT THE ONE CIRCLED IN RED! Top Sales Numbers in Education Top 10 = 200+ sales / day Top 25 = 100+ sales /day Top 50 = 20+ sales / day Top 100 = 10+ sales / day SOURCE: RUMOR Things to Keep in Mind Rumor is that the per day is calculated as an average of the past three days. One great day is not enough to really throttle you to the top. When Apple features an app somewhere on the front page of the App Store, that will affect rankings in that category. Theres no editorial board for what app goes in which section. In Games, developers may choose two sub-categories. A lot of apps in Games - Trivia list themselves in Games - Educational. App Annie You need an account to use, but its free. Allows you to study the rank history of any app in the store. Quick Thoughts on Pricing Generally 99 and $1.99 yield similar sales volumes. $2.99 and $3.99 cause a sales taper that mean less overall prot. Another popular thing to do is make your app free, but... in-app purchases are the bait and switch. they usually make money through embedded advertising. You cant control content of the ads. Theyre colorful and eye-catching to young kids, and touching them takes you away from the app. Still want to do this? Examine your idea and why it makes sense for mobile. Does it take advantage of one or more of the following? Portability Touchscreen - Dont just port a mouse click experience! GPS Accelerometer or gyroscope Camera PHOTO CREDIT: TRACI LAWSON Still want to do this? What will your app offer that isnt in the App Store already? The App Store already has a lot of: Alphabet apps Number / Counting apps Flash Card apps Multiple Choice quiz apps Jigsaw Puzzles Concentration games DO SOMETHING NEW! Excuse This Rant About Sticker Pages Expected rewards reduce intrinsic motivation. They place focus on the reward, and take away from the inherent joy of the activity itself. (Deci, Koestner & Ryan, 1999) Iterate, Iterate, Iterate! Before you seek out developers to talk to, solidify what you want to build. PHOTO CREDIT: MARK ANBINDER Talk It Through Dont be afraid to talk about your idea with trusted colleagues and parents. Simply speaking your ideas aloud will help you think of things you hadnt thought of before. Others will have ideas on how to make it better. Maybe they will relate useful stories. FURTHER READING: NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR COOL GAME IDEA BY MIKE BIRKHEAD Paper Prototype Depending on your concept, it might be possible to test out parts of it with a paper prototype. This will help you to: Make sure the content is understandable to your target age. Test out ow of certain activities. May not be practical for all ideas! PHOTO CREDIT: SAMUEL MANN Interactive Prototype You can use tools to build your app without any code! Picture Link for iPad, $2.99 inVision App, free trial, $8/month PHOTO CREDIT: INVISIONAPP.COM Usability Testing Make sure kids nd your app intuitive. You wont be there when someone downloads it from the App Store! Take advantage of the portability and get out there. Places to test include: kids homes, parks, airports, childrens museums (if they give you the OK rst) PHOTO CREDIT: CHRISTINA APP Usability Testing Explain to child & parent that youre not testing them, you want to test this thing you built and whether or not its good. Plan ahead - Make a list of what behaviors you hope to observe, and places you suspect there may be trouble. Dont say a word! If the child looks to you for help, ask What do you think you should do? Have your hint script prepared, so you can test that out, too! If too many kids ask, tweak your design and test again! Usability Testing Once you have a feel for how much time the experience should last, try a shorter time with the next kid. Now that theyve played with, and hopefully liked your app, youve broken the ice! If time allows, ask a question or two about their favorite apps, or other favorite things (animals? colors? sports?) that might relate to your app. FURTHER READING: APPROACHES TO USER RESEARCH WHEN DESIGNING FOR CHILDREN BY CATALINA NARANJO-BOCK 5 TIPS FOR FANTABULOUS KID TESTING BY ANDY RUSSELL USABILITY TESTING WITH CHILDREN: A LESSON FROM PIAGET BY SABRINA IDLER VIDEO: TRYING VERY HARD TO MAKE GAMES THAT DONT STINK BY BARBARA CHAMBERLIN PHOTO CREDIT: MAKEDA MAYS GREEN Tips on iOS Design for Kids Design the tutorial rst. Think early about how to make sense to a new user. The best tutorials dont feel like tutorials! Angry Birds doesnt have instructions. Why would you? This applies to lengthy video intros, too! The player is here to play, not to read or watch a video. Limit use of text or voiceover direction to the bare minimum. Get to the action right away. Dont make the screen too busy - simple is best. Visual clutter is confusing to the user. Tips on iOS Design for Kids Make sure the app loads fast. Dont make the user wait. Correct touches should let you know right away. A simple sound effect works wonders to tell the user theyre doing the right thing. If touches dont effect action in about 1 second or less, they will feel like theyre either incorrect or broken. Limit use of good job, way to go, etc. Its a video game, not a phone call with Grandma. Tips on iOS Design for Kids Eliminate buttons that take a child away from the experience. Dont use pop-up notications! Not only are these a nuisance, but they likely lead to a page thats adult- directed. This is for the kids, right? If you app offers several mini-experiences, design to sustain attention in each one. Touch and hold buttons avoid accidental navigation. Tally Tots did this brilliantly.FURTHER READING: TODDLER APP USER INTERFACE GUIDELINES BY GABRIEL WEINBERG APP REVIEWS AND ARTICLES IN CHILDRENS TECHNOLOGY REVIEW PHOTO CREDIT: GENTA MASUDA Writing the Design Document This is where you describe to the developer everything that needs to happen. Dont be frightened; you can write it in plain English. You might write your rst draft before you create your prototype. The design document: denes the idea in explicit detailed language. The goal is to remove ambiguity. sells the concept to the developer as something shed want to invest her time in. Writing the Design Document Sections to Include: Target User - Kids? What age? Their parents? Curriculum or other goals User actions / Game progression - this is the largest, most important section Scenarios Art and audio assets needed Specia