Now we need an icon

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Since it looks like WishToList will be the app’s name, I invited the students up to the whiteboard to draw an icon for the app. If the icon was good enough, I could take a photo and use it.

You can see the best contenders at the top. The students more or less agreed on a sroll image, so I had a professional graphic designer come up with several variants following the WishToList jingle that two of the girls created, we added some pixie dust (stars) and some wands. The designer gave me about 10 variants, modifying the color scheme, star size and wand placement. The students selected the following, and that’s what we’re using:

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We also needed to put together the some videos to help new users understand how the app worked. Originally, I was going to have each student read a paragraph of text, and play that text when a user first sees a screen (such as the WISH LIST screen, or the FRIENDS screen or the SETTINGS screen). I recorded several students reading the text, I couldn’t get a consist “feel” to the help, so we scrapped that idea.

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Instead, I had one student rehearse and narrate a short video about how to use the major features of the app,
and wrote text for the other helps. When a user first reaches a new screen, a 2 paragraph help pops up first and explains how to use the screen.

We were almost ready for the 3rd demo of the app. If it goes well, we can move on to real-world testing.

Still searching for a name

wishDance2

We spent the next class trying to come up with a name, I could not get a unanimous vote for anything. Whatever the girls wanted, the boys rejected, and vica-versa.

Two of the girls pictured above came up with a small dance and jingle promoting the app as Wish-To-List. I started using that name when refering to the app, and every adult hated it. Marketing people I knew abhored it, and most others just said it was bland and meaningless. So I kept looking for a good name.

Here’s the full jingle:
wishDance3

Getting back to the initial user experience, we had to determine the order of the screens. Here’s what we started with:

  • Full Screen Logo
  • Username
  • Password
  • Icon (picture)
  • Parent’s Email
  • Introductory Video

The students thought the order was fine, and thought the introductiry video should be 15 seconds. We timed 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds and one minute, until we found the right length for the video.

We moved on to discussing Instagram. About half of the students use that app regularly, and they came up with several ideas: posting each gift separately vs. posting a collage of gifts. The problem with a collage is that creating it automatically is difficult: how many items on the wish list do you include (just the first 4, or all of the list). I decided to study the Instagram options further and report back to the class what was reasonable to implement.

After the download

rateApp

Since most of the app was done, we had to start thinking about what the initial user experience was: from finding the app in the iTunes App Store to starting to add your first toy to your wish list.

We decided to ask the user for the following information when the app was started the first time:

  • Their username
  • Their icon
  • A color scheme
  • Their parent’s email
  • A password

Then we moved onto how to get the word out about the app. I explained that the app had “viral spread” built in to it – you can invite your friends to get the app via texting, skype, email and so on. The more friends you invite, the more opportunities you have to share your list with your friends, and see what they are wishing for.

The students wanted to advertise the app on other apps.

This was a great opportunity to discuss the cost of advertising, and the Apple business model. If an app is free, Apple doesn’t keep any money when someone downloads your app, but if you charge for your app, Apple keeps 30%. Since our app will be free, we didn’t have an advertising budget.

iPhone/iPod advertising requires a commitment of at least $2,500/month, and is usually done for either branding purposes (such as by a Ford or Coke), or to promote an app that is not free. We went through the “return-on-investment” concept of advertising, and building out a spreadsheet that analyses the most effective forms of product promotion (ads, PR, etc.) but since our app is free, the teachers who sat in on the class gained more than the kids.

Finally we discussed the Rate This App system that lots of games use. After you use an app for a few days, the app asks you to review the app in the iTunes App Store. The students felt that our app should ask this question after a week.

Second Demo

SecondDemo1

As you can see in this picture, we had teachers and adminstrators attend the class from time to time.
Not only were the students much better behaved (thanks!), but they asked questions that gave me a chance to explain more about app development, testing and submitting to the app store.

The second demo to the students went much better than the first. The screen was more colorful, the actions smoother, and the students liked what they saw.

In this demo, we searched for Woody from Toy Story:

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The search results were cleaned up:
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The tool bar at the top was easier to use, but still needs improvement:
webadd3

Selecting the toy you want is simple:
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And the “details” screen for the gift is more colorful:
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The students also liked interacting with a friend’s wish list. Once a friend is selected, you can see their wish list, and comment on their gifts:

friendGift1

To keep things as kid-safe as possible, we decided to allow only comments from a pre-created list of comments:

friendGift2

The biggest hit was the icon screens. The students really liked being able to select their icon, and change it from time to time. Here’s what we built initially:

To see your icon, press PUBLIC PROFILE:
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To change your icon, press the CARD FILE:
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First select a category of icons (all stored on a web page):
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Then select the icon for your public profile (also stored on a web page):
settings2c

All in all, the app was coming together nicely, but it was rough around the edges, there were time delays in showing the icon, and there were inconsistencies in the user interface. We’ll resolve those over the next few weeks.