10 step guide to planning your next App.

Step 1 – Which type of App?

Before you develop your next App, it is worth considering what type of App you need.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of App; Native Apps and Web Apps.

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The top 7 fears of social media

It’s okay, you’re among friends so this is a safe and secure environment where you can admit that you find Social Media a little bit frightening. Furthermore, I’m happy to tell you, you are not alone!

I’ve spent time with organisations at various management levels over the last few years and have seen at first hand the fear. In fact, I’ve just categoriesed the fears. See if you’ve encountered any of them personally or among your colleagues.

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Seven minutes of terror

We like problem solving. So seeing NASA overcome all obstacles to deliver a robotic explorer to Mars is an inspiration for reasoned thought with creative thinking.

This 5 minute video is their story.

The interesting thing is that even the best brains and the best ideas don’t always know the return on investment. Luckily they only had seven minutes of terror.

Flash in the pan?

Within the mobile market there has been much talk of HTML5 being the new Flash killer. But, before we kill Flash off completely, it may be worth a quick recap on where we are.

It’s true that the recent high-profile negativity around Flash is largely centred on mobile technology. Since 2008 Adobe has repeatedly claimed that a stable mobile Flash plugin is coming. In April 2010 Apple’s former CEO, Steve Jobs, famously made his distaste for Flash very public and posted his thoughts at http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/

However, it’s fair to say that users don’t consume content on a mobile in the same way as on a desktop computer. They don’t necessarily need Flash. There are many app stores offering a plethora of choice. Apple’s trademark, ‘There’s an app for that’ has culminated in over 500,000 available apps for iOS devices alone, many of which are free.

Some might say that killing off Flash is the tail wagging the dog, and there is a big debate in the web development community about its place in the future. We all knew Flash wasn’t going to work with mobile. It would fry your legs trying to watch a video on a MacBook Pro so not a great prospect of it working with your phone’s processing power!

But in the desktop market, if we continue to have a need to develop highly interactive cost-effective rich-media applications, Flash still has a place – at least until everyone has upgraded to an HTML5 compatible browser (http://html5test.com/results/desktop.html) and until the HTML5 standard can better cope with more complex animation.

No doubt about it, HTML5 is the future. However, when we’re turning ideas into reality, our solutions are never led by end-point technology per se: they’re always about delivering the best possible experience true to the initial design concept. HMTL5 where we can, but occasionally we need to go a bit old-school, see www.keyparker.co.uk/how-we-do-it

Why words really matter again…

Once upon a time, back in the Mad Men days, copywriters were masters of the advertising universe.  (Donald Draper the character might exist in a moral vacum but the ad agency empire he helps build owes everything to his insight, creative flair and self belief.) In those days writers seemed to drive the ideas and the strategy followed, albeit post-rationally.

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Hip hip…brand guidelines

Most good brands have rules and guidelines on how to represent and reproduce their identity.

The Union Flag is an identity that goes back more than 400 years. It has its own guidelines with regard to rules of layout, proportion and colour. Getting these rules wrong in the past could have had disastrous consequences, for it has been said that flying the flag upside down is a sign of distress!

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ICO takes the biscuit

Last May, regulations were introduced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) requiring website owners to obtain user consent before cookies are set on internet-enabled devices, and there was a one-year grace period giving website owners time to implement the new regulations. That period is now well and truly over.

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Avoiding technical debt in a digital economy.

Given the current economic climate, we’re all, to a greater or lesser degree, familiar with financial debt. But what’s hardly discussed at all is the notion of technical debt. Technical debt can arise as a result of making concessions in order to deliver a technical solution, where more focus is often placed on delivery deadlines at the expense of delivery quality.

For example, in the case of software development, the debt may take the form of a small imperfection that can be fixed prior to the next major release. However, that imperfection must be fixed in the future in order to prevent it from growing or compounding with other small debts and becoming a much larger problem.

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Web application developers (or social scientists as we like to think)

A common client perception with online business tools is that they are the product of clever computing machines and those clever people behind them, the  technically gifted who are sometimes referred to as web application developers.

However, we all remember what happened in ‘Terminator’ when machines built machines. If you ever thought the best technical online systems are based on highly technical processes that just happen, with almost zero human participation, then think again. One of the biggest limitations in a complex online project is underestimating the ability, needs and influence of users who interact with it.

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