An iPhone app built in one day

My buddy Jerrod Blavos hit me up last Friday evening about 8pm. He said he had been working on an iPhone app and needed a user interface to go along with it. Being a designer that is always itching to design new things, I said sure. Two hours later, we had a functioning app that was submitted to the Apple App Store.

Maybe I should expound

That’s pretty much the gist of how it went down, but let me explain a little more. The app we built was very simple. Called AspectGadget, it does calculations of aspect ratios for images or videos for a given size converted to a desired size. Apparently, Jerrod has been doing this calculation everyday the long way and was tired of it so he saw a need and built an app — I know I will be using it for when I do designs from now on.

Anyways, he started it last Friday morning, programming the base app in Objective-C using the iPhone SDK. He has been wanting to get into the mobile app world and has been eating, breathing and probably dreaming how to program his debut iPhone OS app. I myself have even delved into reading up on it to get my head around how the user interface objects function. Mobile is definitely a different and exciting breed when it comes to the user experience.

That evening, he contacted me asking me to throw together an icon and user interface that he can use. Since I had already been researching great apps on the iPhone to understand why the designer designed the UI elements he or she did, I was eager to jump on this. With in two hours I was able to provide him pixel perfect images for him to use in the SDK build.

I was able to do this because he provided me a screen shot of the base app utilizing the ordinary SDK elements the interface builder provides. From there, I took a quick sketched concept into PhotoShop and out put the graphic images.

Now that the iPhone 4 is out with Retina display, you have to provide two image file types to handle the different resolutions. This can get tricky when designing an interface as the pixels and space change.

That evening he submitted it for review to the App Store and four days later, it was approved and available for purchase.

Keys to a good app

Research the store and what is in it

The App Store is filled with tons of duplicate apps performing pretty much the same functions. If you have an idea for an app, try to find it in the store. If the concept is not in there, you are in luck. If it is, you must think harder of how yours could stand out from the rest. Remember, find a void and fill it.

Make the user interface relevant

No one will buy an app that has a horrible un-usable interface — even if it is free. It must be intuitive and responsive. With the mobile form factor, there is less space and less visual time to get your message across.

A good price point

Think about what your app is worth. If you think it’s worth your first born because of the amount of time put into it, then take a step back. Find any similar apps in the store and see what their price is. 99¢ is considered impulse buy money when it comes to apps. Free is also good, but if you want to get a little kick back, think about putting ads in the app or offering a way to upgrade to the bigger and better.

We aren’t done yet

This was just a taste of getting into the mobile world. I know Jerrod and I are not done with churning these out. We are already working on another simple app involving the Twitter timeline, so check back for whats new.

Also, if you are feeling generous or maybe think you would use the app, go ahead and throw down a buck and purchase AspectGadget.

Filed under: User Experience