So it’s been over a month since I released My Day Todos on the App Store(iOS) and I have been releasing updates for it ever since. So one of the things that I would share in this post is my realisation that having a successful app is not just about writing code, it’s so much more than that. Now before anyone reading this says “DUH…”, well yes it is a pretty obvious thing but it’s the first time I have gotten first-hand experience. So let me share some of the things that have kept me busy post app release…
Marketing or just getting the word out in general…
My academic background mostly involves Computer Science research and all my past jobs involved me writing code for the most part(except that one job where I was consultant). Given my background I have little or no knowledge about marketing or for that matter how to make something stand out in a highly competitive market. Sure! I can add a unique feature to my app but then how do I let people know about it? If I was a Hawker
selling food on the streets, I could simply shout to get people’s attention and then tell them about this awesome food item that I am selling. However I am not a hawker nor am I selling food on the streets, I am a developer who has/had little or no knowledge on how to market an app. So what I was really after was to find a way to let people know about the existence of my app, what it does and what it does differently. So I still don’t think I have solved that problem, but I will share what I have tried so far.
App website and “Landing page”
So it is common knowledge to build a website for your app. Great, so I knew that and being a programmer it was easy for me to make a basic website that would explain what the app is. What I did not know was that the website needs a good “landing page”(home page) and that people/users should immediately be curious about trying out my app on seeing the landing page. The app website
has gone through the following revisions,
- Version 1 – Too much text and less pictures on the landing page
- Version 2 – Almost no text and too many pictures on the landing page
- Version 3 – Less pictures and some text but site looks bad on mobile safari
- Version 4 – Looks better on a mobile browser than desktop: This version is live right now and I have made a number of changes based on some feedback that I received. This version as you can see here, only has app screenshots that showcase certain unique areas of my app. I had to describe the app images somehow without adding any extra text in the landing page, so how did I solve this? Well Preview on the Mac has this awesome tool whereby you can add chat bubbles and draw shapes in an image, so what you see on the landing page now is accomplished using exactly that. (ahh, the life of an Indie dev….)
Now to conclude the part about landing page, I have to thank my friend Jayen
and Reinder De Vries of LearnAppMaking.com
for their feedback. I got to know Reinder via this Facebook group called App Business Entrepreneurs
and he had some really valuable feedback, one of which was simple and the other one was not. The simple one was to add a Download on the app store badge, which is an obvious thing but for some reason it just never occurred to me that I should do it. The difficult point is a very valid point but it’s harder to implement because it requires a slight change in mindset. It’s about Features vs Benefits, if you want to know more about it, then have a read of this post
App Store Optimisation(ASO)
Ok, say I made a great landing page and all but there’s really no point to if people cannot find my app on the App Store. That is where App Store optimisation comes in and for the version on the App Store right now, the ASO for my app is bad, really bad. SensorTower
can give the app a grade based on certain attributes that include visibility on the App Store and the grade which the current version(1.4) of My Day Todos has is F
. I have submitted 1.5 for review and I am hoping the new keywords should make it a bit more visible on the App Store.
Current state of the App
As mentioned before, I have submitted the 1.5 update for review and work is already underway for the 1.6 update. The 1.6 update is about a feature which I had to remove from the app a couple of months before release, because testing that feature would take time and it would have delayed the release. So since the feature is more like a nice to have, I planned to add it as an update for the app instead of including it in the initial release. This feature involves fetching data from a certain API and ATS
, introduced in iOS9 does come into affect implementing this feature. Yes existing apps can bypass this by modifying the Info.plist file, but I wanted to solve this from the get-go and hence I found a solution to this i.e. the app will only fetch data via a secure connection(https
). As of now, I am a poor indie developer so when I say “solution” what I really mean is I found a way to establish a secure communication channel in the most cost effective way. I may post details about that later.
Personal log: A concern for my Java knowledge
So in addition to updating and marketing the app, there is one other thing that worries me from time to time: maintaining my Java knowledge. Given the Ionic framework
powered UI for My Day Todos, I spend a lot of time working with AngualrJS and for the backend, some time working with Swift and Python/Django. Therefore my current work involves almost no Java and that worries me from time to time. My last job involved building touchscreen applications using AngularJS which used a Java based backend. The Java side of things involved debugging very large codebases and working with Spring framework
, which I had gotten to know quite well and was very comfortable with it. So Java knowledge is something that I am not prepared to fully loose, therefore I try to make a conscious effort every week to find some time to work with Java.
So what’s next?
I am really looking forward to the 1.5 update for My Day Todos being approved and released on the App Store, I hope my ASO efforts are enough to make it a bit more visible on the App Store. The next thing would be finishing work on the 1.6 update and adding in this extra feature that I could not include in the first release.