Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Don't Build That crAPP!

Apps are sexy, apps are cool, apps are oh so sexy and cool.
Apps are money, apps are fun, apps are full of value for everyone.
Apps are crAPP, apps are crAPPY, apps rarely make investors happy.

"I have this idea for an app" is how the conversation starts.  I brace myself. I want to be open minded, but I can't help it.  The app ideas floating around, especially in the promotional products industry, are crAPP.  I listen, I wait for it, and it never comes.

It is the reason someone needs to download your app rather than access your idea on the web.  But it never comes.  So I ask about it and I'm looked at like I have just asked the person if their kid is ugly.  They get defensive and tell me all sorts of reasons the idea needs to be an app.  A few of these ideas are reasons to write an app, but none apply to their idea.  Most of the reasons are crAPP and would work fine in a web browser.

Sure, I hate playing Words With Friends in a browser so I probably would have never played if they didn't build an app. But Words With Friends and most other great apps do things that are significantly faster or easier as an app compared to doing the same tasks in a browser.  What if Facebook had started as an app, would it have seen the same growth?

In the promotional products industry, the dominant service providers SAGE and ASI both have apps and with good reason.  They didn't start as an app, they started as DVD tools and then migrated to "online" software before building apps.  They had a big user base to build from.

So when you think "Someone needs to build an app for that", think about the following before you invest your company money into the app.

What prevents this idea from working on the web?
Many items previously unavailable to web apps are now available to web developers.

Can I get more users with the app than a web site?
In most cases, the answer is absolutely not.  People can stumble on your website. It's very hard to get someone to stumble on your app.

How will I get someone to download the app?
Send me an email to check out your app and I have to open it in the app store, click download, put in my password, and then open the app.  Send me a link to your web site and it's a single click.

Where are my users?
Thanks for the link to your app, but I opened it on my Galaxy S4 (Android) which means I can't use your iPhone app.

How will I train my users?
If you have a website and an app for IOS and an app for android, there will be nuances to each platform.  So your users will ask questions.  Evernote is different on each platform and while it is largely the same, users are confused when they switch from the desktop version to the app.  Do you have time to support and train users across platforms?

Instead of focusing on the app, you need to focus on the user.  What does the user want from your app? If it can be done in a browser, start with the browser and build your site specifically for mobile users. This lets you reach Android users, iPhone users, Windows phone users (all 4 of you), and desktops too.  And you can build your site with "responsive design" which means that if a desktop user is using the site, you can give them more information and/or functionality than a mobile user.   Then, work with your users to help them set up a shortcut to your app on their mobile device (click here to set up a shortcut on IOS or Android).

For Geiger, I am following my own advice, yet I'm still looking for a reason to build an app.  We will create an app at some point but only when the app provides more value than a well designed mobile site.

The web is sexy, the web is cool, the web is oh so sexy and so cool.
The web makes money, the web is fun, the web has value for everyone.
The web is excellent, the web brings delight, the future of the web is bright.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mobile - Add Website Shortcut to your Mobile Device

I am a proponent of building mobile friendly web sites instead of apps in most cases.  However, unless you have a shortcut to the web site on the mobile device, it does create an unnecessary step for users to get to your site.  So here is how to set up manually short cuts to web sites on your mobile device.  

IOS 7 (iPhone/iPad)

  1. Open safari on your IOS device.
  2. Visit the website.
  3. Click the icon near the top of the page with the arrow pointing up.
  4. Click add to home screen.
  5. Name the shortcut.
VoilĂ !

Android standard browser

  1. Open the Internet browser.
  2. Visit the website.
  3. Click the menu button on your phone.
  4. Click add shortcut to home.

Chrome browser on Android  
  1. Open the Chrome
  2. Visit the website
  3. Click the menu button on your phone
  4. Click add to homescreen
  5. Name the new icon

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Remember The Expo, With Evernote

Who made that cool new product?!?  You are just returning back from the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas when your client calls you with an urgent request for an important event and needs ideas today to place the order and have delivered.  You recall seeing 3 or 4 perfect items for the event, but you can't recall which vendor had the items and you don't know the proper keywords to find them in SAGE.

Don't let this happen to you.  You have a computer in your pocket and the most powerful (yet simple) organization tool available to you: Evernote.  Below I am going to show you the most important use of Evernote for you at the PPAI Expo.  There is much more Evernote can do for you (and if you attended my Evernote seminar at PPAI Education you'll know most!) so take the time to learn how to use Evernote and you'll be that much more productive.

First, download Evernote to your phone and your computer
It is free and available on iphones and droids.  It is also available for Windows and Mac.  The reason you want it on your computer is the information you store on your phone will automatically be available to you on your computer.  It's easiest to create the account on your computer but you can create your account from anywhere.

Now, the fun part!
You are at a booth and you see a great item and you want to remember it. Heck, even if it isn't "great" it's worth remembering for some reason and this only takes 30 seconds.  So you grab your phone and open Evernote.  

  1. Click the "+" button (new note) 
  2. Type heading such as "Car charger from XYZ "
  3. Speak (using voice to text) or type  in any notes such as: 
    1. Why you like it
    2. What client you have in mind
    3. What the price point is 
    4. Special pricing
    5. Booth number
  4. Click the camera button (click the paperclip icon and choose camera) and take a picture
  5. Add a Tag such as "Tradeshow"
  6. Click save 

When you get back to your office and you need to remember the cool items, just open evernote and click the tag TRADESHOW and all your notes will be there.  If you want to limit it to PPAEXPO14 name that as that tag instead of Tradeshow but I like fewer tags so I stick with tradeshow (Evernote sorts by date automatically so that lets you see the recent items first).  

If you need to search for a specific item and have lots of notes, you can type in "Car charger" and either include the tag or not.  That will help you find the item fast.  The more notes you type, the easier it will be to find, but when you are at the show, you will want to move fast so I recommend only important key words.  I also suggest:
  1. Use the voice dictation feature of you phone for the notes
  2. There is an option to include a voice recording (near camera, but says AUDIO) but it does not transcribe the text which means it is not searchable. But if you have a lot to say about the item or want to record the vendor saying something, AUDIO is a great option.
There are so many other uses for evernote.  I will post my slides from the Evernote session at www.slideshare.net/therealdaledenham for your learning pleasure.

Bonus tip to deal with business cards:
Take a photo in Evernote of the business card and throw the card away.  If you are using an iphone (I use android) there is a business card feature that automatically extracts the data into text.  Tag the card with Contact and you'll build a history of the cards that otherwise you'd lose in your bag and never find again.