A Rant About Apps!


Wow!  You folks at Technology Review have been reactionary and are STILL! being reactionary! 

And you're leading business' and individuals who are trying to figure out what to do in the mobile arena with the impression that the technology is no god, when in fact it's your own lack of planning, design, project management and lack of technical expertise that caused every single one of your failures.

You heard the siren song of apps for iPad and Android and so you immediately decided that this is where your business needs to go.  You did not do any research apparently into what it takes to design an app, let alone build it.  You did not invest any time in learning what the limitations and strengths were in an app and more importantly for your bottom dollar...do didn't take the time to hire someone who could TELL! you what those values were and who could then advise you and/or lead the technology side of the project to build a quality app that takes advantage of all that the platforms have to offer. You didn't even look around to see that there are many technologies that will allow you to build mobile apps, and some extremley good technologies designed specifically for building apps for the publishing industry.

Instead you likey had a meeting or two with your planning group and with no actual data to base it on, you all gleefully said


and then you called in your IT team and said,

 "BUILD US AN APP!"  and then, ...

"Uh...Say..CAN you guys build us an app?" 

And they said, "Uh..an app?  Uh...

(whisper: hey bob!  what's an app?  Never mind...I'll just wing it)..

"Sure boss!  We can do that!" 

 and they then spent the next month reading articles online about how to build an app, and maybe even creating a 'Hello World' app in Objective-C.  They probably even talked you into buying them some new Mac's to play around with...after awhile, they came to you and said,

"Hey boss, guess what?  We don't know how to build an app.  But Joe in the mail room has a cousin who rides the train with an IT guy who says he knows a consulting company who can build us an app."  

And you said, "Hire them!  WE NEED AN APP!" 

 and so the consulting firm was hired...but no one bothered to check to see if they had any experience prgramming in Objective-C or any other mobile development platforms for building an app...most definitely no experience to build an app like you wanted!...even though if you were being honest, you probably didn't really know what it was you wanted anyway at that point.

And they were turned loose with very little direction and very little oversight and every month this consulting firm sent you an invoice along with a "progress report" that probably consisted of some mocked up screen shots and a lot of jargon.  And you were getting REALLY! excited and thought,

 "OH MY GOD!  WE ARE GOING TO HAVE AN APP WITH OUR NAME ON IT RUNNING ON AN iPAD!!!!  OH MY GOD!!!!  (uh-oh! I think I just wet my pants!)"

And eventually,  the consulting firm learned, on your dime by the way, how to code an app in Objective-C and they delivered unto you an app with your name on it. 

And you were ecstatic!

And then your team tried to port the content from next month's issue onto the app...and suddenly nothing fits.  Columns don't line up,  gutters are missing,  images are pixelated and it looks like crap. And then someone accidentally rotates the tablet and suddenly the app REALLY! looks lke crap! 

So now you work with the consulting company, who still hasn't admitted (and probably never will) that they cobbled together your app from 30 other sample programs on Apple's Develoepr website and they really have no clue of how to solve your problems.  But you and they work together and you create a kludge that works on iPad.  Then another kludge for Android tablets.   Then a HUGE Turd of a Kludge for android smart phones and their small screens. 

And hey, you have an app!

But after all this work and effort and money, you still have forgotten that no one has ever bothered to "DESIGN"! this app for useability!  

You are amazed that you cannot click hyperlinks to exit otuside the app and you think that you've just tossed all your money and effort down the drain.

Then you read ANOTHER article about how company XYZ is now using HTML5 to build apps designed for any platform and you shout, "THIS IS IT!  WE NEED AN HTML5 APP!"  and you're starting all this all over again....

But you're just reacting again.  You didn't do any research or talk to any developers with actual iOS or Android developer experience to find out WHY! your orginal app didn't work right.  You just assumed that since some things did not work as expected that it must not be possible.   Guess what?  You are wrong in those assumptions.

Every single "wrong" thing you wrote about is absolutelly technologically possible and none of them are hard to do.   Your IT-developers simply lacked real world experience and were afraid to lose the gig so they never told you that.  They did not know how to properly code the app to do simple things like allowing hyperlinks to take the user out of and back into the app, as needed.  Although in their defense, it sounds like there was no one at your company providing a design plan for them to work from or providing project leadership to make sure that all those features you wanted were in the app and working as you wanted prior to releasing it to the public.

And I could go on and on but your whole article just tires me and I grow weary of trying to shine a light on your FAIL .  I will add just one more thing...You should not be rushing to dump your $125K investment in your app just so you can build it again with HTML5.

HTML5 has not even been finalized yet.  It's currently in beta mode (go ahead and google beta...based on your experience with the app development I'm guessing you don't understand that term).  HTML 5 is also not supported by the majority of browsers yet and the latest projections I saw said it would be 3rd or 4th quarter 2013 before that happens.   No one is building production level code projects in HTML 5 yet.   Everyone agrees that HTML5 is the future, for sure,  but it's no even lose to being ready for it yet.

Just do your research and planning first this time, and if after everything you fail with HTML 5 too, don't bother writing an article about how terrible HTML 5 is becuase your app sucked like you did with developing native mobile apps. 

I wouldn't have even bothered commenting except I didn't want some reader who is looking for information about mobile app development reading your piece as gospel.  They deserve to know that your experience is not based on any technical limitations to native mobile apps, but rather to terrible project management/planning/design/programming.

This is wonderful. Lol. This is what I tried to prevent when I designed and wrote this page (the site's been redone, so this is a link to a screenie).

but... oh well. XD

This is what happens when your ad agency doesn't actually care about YOU.

Yes, I admit it, I clicked on "Popular". And then I was royally pissed off. (That 'navbar' is an advertisement, by the way. See how helpfully it's labelled.)

If this ad agency's KPI was clickthroughs, not conversions, then I'm pretty certain this ad is getting results.

Unfortunately, of course, once users realise they've been tricked, their instant reaction is to close the site in disgust. The last thing on their minds is even LOOKING at whatever it was the site was selling.

One could argue that the agency was doing nothing wrong - their client probably demanded clickthroughs as KPI, and on this, I'm sure they deliver. But the reaction after click-through in no way helps their client.

An agency that cared about their client would realise that what the client (and every client, really) wants is conversions. Yes, an ad banner cannot guarantee conversions. But if the banner pisses off the users it brings to a site, you can bet it'll guarantee a lack thereof.

RedAnt on how Clicktale doesn't quite tell the whole tale.

This Clicktale review is completely independent – we’ve used it on several projects where we wanted to better understand user interactions. We’ve had a chance to look at both the way it collects data and how it reports this information. We’ve also had the opportunity to compare the results against other other software tracking tools, as well as other approaches to the same task such as physical eye tracking. We started using Clicktale based on many of the positive reviews we’d read, but on further investigation many of these were paid reviews (via affiliate commission).

Clicktale is a software tool which allows you to track what users are doing on your website. It is used to analyse how people behave and what they do on particular pages. We’ve used it on several projects to try to gain a better understanding of how users were travelling through the site. More specifically, we were trying to get a better understanding of how they were using particular pages & forms, and what steps we could take to improve our conversion rate.

To summarise our experience, we were quite disappointed with the results. The Clicktale reports seem to illustrate certain behaviours and user problems, but after some investigation we realised these weren’t problems.

Users were in fact behaving differently to what this tool was describing.

We wasted a lot of time investigating issues that we couldn’t reproduce, and worrying about defects which weren’t there.

Our problem was that we realised that some of the Clicktale data was wrong… but the trouble was we didn’t know which bit.

Using Clicktale is not like looking over their shoulder. Clicktale records mouse position every second or so and keyboard strokes. Then, in a separate process, a Clicktale bot visits your site and takes a screenshot of that page. The actual playback is an animation of this screenshot and an image of a mouse cursor moving over the top of it. Similarly the heatmap uses this screenshot.

There are a few problems with this approach, but the primary one is that the screen that you’re seeing in the playback can be quite different to the one that your user just saw.

We've been using Clicktale too... This kinda explains some of our results. ._.

gui design - Are carousels effective? - User Experience

Carousels are effective at being able to tell people in Marketing/Senior Management that their latest idea is now on the Home Page.

They are next to useless for users and often "skipped" because they look like advertisements. Hence they are a good technique for getting useless information on a Home Page (see first sentence of this post).

In summary, use them to put content that users will ignore on your Home Page. Or, if you prefer, don't use them. Ever.

The answer seems to be, 'mostly ineffective for site users, but it depends'. Note that I emphasized site users. ;)

The answers are hilarious! Doubly so because they seem to be true.

Magic Ink: Information Software and the Graphical Interface

People turn to software to learn the meaning of words, learn which countries were bombed today, and learn to cook a paella. They decide which music to play, which photos to print, and what to do tonight, tomorrow, and Tuesday at 2:00. They keep track of a dozen simultaneous conversations in private correspondence, and maybe hundreds in public arenas. They browse for a book for Mom, a coat for Dad, and a car for Junior. They look for an apartment to live in, and a bed for that apartment, and perhaps a companion for the bed. They ask when the movie is playing, and how to drive to the theater, and where to eat before the movie, and where to get cash before they eat. They ask for numbers, from simple sums to financial projections. They ask about money, from stock quote histories to bank account balances. They ask why their car isn’t working and how to fix it, why their child is sick and how to fix her. They no longer sit on the porch speculating about the weather—they ask software.

Fascinating reading, you can almost feel it poking new (but good!) holes in your zmobie brain as you read.

Anyone who's involved with software design or production should read this.

Cupcake Ipsum - Sugar-coated Lorem Ipsum Generator

Cupcake Ipsum - Sugar-coated Lorem Ipsum Generator


How about using auto-generated text that will actually
make people love your project even more?

Pretty sweet, right?


While I try to avoid lorem ipsum whenever possible (content is not ONLY a graphic element! grr!), because lorem ipsum everywhere makes it much harder to visualise, and design for, the real content...

...this is just so kyooooot!

Also see veggy version (features linnaen names!):


But really, the cupcakes look the cutest.