How UI design affects Padgram downloads (stats inside)

A lot of people has suggested UI design (especially app icon) is important for an app. And it’s well proved in Padgram.

In Padgram 1.0, the design uses wooden texture:

Wooden texture is a fashionable design in 2012. It’s said to be good for photo viewing app. Our design combines wooden texture with transparent glass. It has the metaphor that your iPad is a wooden table, you put glass on it and photo over the glass. It’s good, isn’t it? While it’s hard to control from design perspective as it’s used in large scale. Using the app for long time easily causes aesthetic fatigue – it’s the case for our team members, and i bet it also happens on user end.

We realized wood texture might work its best when using only small pieces as decorator or some components like buttons, title bar or tab bar, but if using for the whole background, it’s not easy to control. The most stunning design with wooden texture is from App Design Vault. But after purchased and tried the template, it’s still not suitable for Padgram. And we did the refund (Thanks for App Design Vault to make the refund so easy).

And looking at the icons:

None of them are attractive enough, even for team members ourselves. Then it’s not surprising the download count is not good enough. For the first one month, we average 70 downloads (see below for stats). That’s really shame for a free app!

So we decided to redesign the app. It was painful, we didn’t add features, actually we remove many features. We dropped waterfall view (the reason is written here). We dropped portrait mode support. And we dropped wooden texture, replaced with a simple and light-weighted texture. Below is the new design:

And we hired a designer on Elance to design an icon. It costs us $50, but absolutely worth the money.

Since Padgram 2.0 released, the app downloads are increased for 3.5 times!

The soar was achieved under exactly the same condition: no promotion, no PR. For the reason why downloads are increased so much, the icon counts 70%. And of course the app itself, with unique value, is the key.

As a conclusion:

  • Good design really works
  • Simplify the app, make the core features work the best!
  • App Design Vault can be referred if you want to try some designs. It’s refundable, that’s important!
  • Icon is super important. Make sure you hired the right talent
  • Refer to Elance or Freelancer if you lack of design resource

After receiving many positive feedbacks, we’re confident with what we’re offering. We will start next stage – promotion. I’ll write down what we learned as time goes.

Check out Padgram App Page, or download it here.

Pic Quotes: read, share & print unlimited quotes in picture form

Do you enjoy reading, sharing and posting quotes? then Pic Quotes makes it more interesting by letting users view quotes in picture form and making it easier to share and print.

The quotes shown in the app are picked up from hot image sharing sites, such as Pinterest, Piccsy, ImgFave and FFFFound. Pic Quotes send around 20 quotes to you every day. Features:
– Allows users to view recent quotes
– Allows users to share quotes on facebook
– Allows users to print quotes and send them to friends as postcards.

Like our Facebook page to start reading and sharing quotes with the “Pic Quotes” community: http://www.facebook.com/PicQuotesApp

“InstaPin” is now renamed to “Padgram”

We named the instagram app as “InstaPin” as we wanted it to be a combination of Instagram and Pinterest. Now we rename it to “Padgram” as we think the Instagram-Pinterest combination is not a perfect solution on iPad.

Pinterest waterfall view is basically composed of image, comments, author info. It brings in perfect UX on PC as the screen is big enough. People like the UX to view all info within the same page and add comments without leaving. While on iPad, even its screen is bigger than iPhone, the screen estate is still limited. It can’t even hold one image info in one screen using waterfall view! And when it comes to commenting, as to the nature of Object-C programming, it’s much harder to implement in technical. Pinstagram tried it, but the result is not perfect.

So we decide to give up waterfall view. The app in the store is still in waterfall view, but next version the waterfall view will be gone. We rename the app just in preparation for next version.

Next version would be an important release. Stay tuned! [Update: it’s online now: http://itunes.apple.com/app/id539297584]

InstaPin – Creatively Explore Instagram

InstaPin is now on App Store. Check it out here.

What’s InstaPin

InstaPin is an Instagram app for iPad, not only can you enjoy Pinterest waterfall view in the app,but also like,comment,share photos and check profiles simply with one tap.

We view iPad differently from iPhone. On iPhone, people take photos, check friend’s activities and stay connected with friends by liking or commenting photos. On iPad, we cannot take photos as Instagram hasn’t opened this API. While iPad is much more powerful in viewing and exploration. It is a fun to check out interesting photos and people on iPad. We designed InstaPin to make liking, commenting, checking profile much easier. In InstaPin, people can finish following features within 2 taps:

  • Like a photo
  • Comment a photo
  • Check others’ profile
  • Follow others
  • ( Let us know if you have other features to add to the list 🙂 )

Why we want to make InstaPin

After completing EasyPin, we sat down together to think about our next product and our idea was how to join Instagram with Pinterest. At that same time some media started to report Pingram.me, where Pingram.me was only providing web services not apps for mobile or any other platform, so we got the inspiration and decided to start our project.

How different we are from our competitors

During we make InstaPin, media reported Pinstagram web service, followed by its iPad app. we made an evaluation of the app’s fluency, experience and integrity, we feel that InstaPin is more superior in interaction experience. Some actions cannot be easily done in Pinstagram needs a single tap in InstaPin. The typical example is checking user’s profile.

Pinstagram is the first app integrated the Pinterest waterfall view on iPad for Instagram. But the first one is not necessary the best one, with our confidence and courage we believe that InstaPin has a very good perspective.

We want to differentiate us from other apps in exploration features. “Creatively Explore Instagram” is our slogan, there are several features in the works, such as:

  • Auto complete tags or users during searching or commenting
  • Photos nearby
  • Subscribe an interest tag
  • Subscribe an interesting place

Stay tuned!

(We do recognize and respect Pinstagram and its founder Pek, they moved really fast and did a really good design and promotion. We started at similar peroid as Pinstagram but late in schedule for almost 1 month, shame… We have a lot to learn…)

Feature list

  • Explore popular feed and your following or liked photos in Pinterest waterfall view. View just by a glance while it smoothly loads by scrolling down
  • Share photos to 6 social services: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Pocket (formerly Read It Later) and Sina Weibo
  • One tap to like and comment photos
  • One tap to check others’ profile (photos, followed and following users), follow them with another tap
  • View photos in fullscreen mode, and save them to Camera Roll
  • Search by tag or username
  • Portrait / Landscape support, so you can place your iPad in any orientation you like
  • Retina Display support for new iPad users

For any feature requests or comments, you can leave message on our Facebook App Page. Thanks~~~~

How to install developer build to iPhone/iPad

For testing purpose, it’s often required to install an app onto a iPhone/iPad without jail-breaking (if your device is already jail-broken, the procedure will become pretty simpler. ). We’ve not found much useful article on web to document this, so we write it here:

First step: provide UDID to the developer

An UDID (Unique Device Identifier) is a sequence, combinations of alphabets and numbers with the length of 40 characters. It uniquely identifies your iPad. Install Get My UDID on your iPad, and use it to email the UDID to the developer.

Second step: developer sign the app with your UDID included

It’s the developer’s job, to save the words here. The developer should offer two files:

  1. a file with *.ipa extension
  2. a file with *.mobileprovision extension

Third step: install ipa onto the device

Get your iPad connected to your computer and iTunes launched.

  1. Uninstall the existing Padgram on your iPad
  2. Back to iTunes on your desktop, Drag the ipa and provision file to “Apps” panel. Accept to override the existing one when prompted.
  3. Choose your iPad in iTunes, check the “Apps” tab, make sure the app is selected, finally hit the “Sync” button, the app will be installed onto your iPad

Toubleshooting:

  1. Sometimes there could be a dialog prompt on device saying certificate is not trusted. Don’t hesitate to blame the developer if that happens 🙂
  2. We believe there are various strange issues out there, leave us message if you encounter any

“Trying to reach your satisfaction whatsoever….”

Lessons we learnt from EasyPin

EasyPin is the team’s first app. It took 20 days to appear online after submission. It got rejected once by us and once by the App store.  Someone might say it’s not bad, but as a professional app provider, we should never forgive ourselves for any mistakes that we make.We’ve learnt some lessons from the process they are:

  • Don’t risk adding a hacking code for a feature that is rarely used: for a page deeply embedded in the app, we added some hacking code to determine the way a page is opened according to a white list, but the white list can be easily broken as the page could contain some frame and introduce a url out of the white list. The bug is serious. It caused users to be unable to login Pinterest and of course App Store rejected it. The lesson we learnt here is, for a feature that is rarely used, we should not do too much on it unless we have 100% confidence that it doesn’t damage anything.
  • We should set proper rating for the app. Apple replied to us “Since your application allows unfiltered access to the internet, where content with mature or suggestive themes can be accessed, it should be rated 17+. Applications must be rated accordingly for the highest level of content that the user is able to access.”
  • Require “Sneak Peak” if possible. We didn’t raise any pre-buzz before the app is published. This is fine for an app that is only for experiment. But if we have a killer app, we should prepare some buzz before it’s out.

EasyPin is our first app. We admit it’s not a killer app. While we take it seriously and try our best to learn in design, development and marketing. We believe our next app will be the killer app. So stay tuned for our next App.

EasyPin: we make pinning on Pinterest super easy

As mentioned in previous post, the philosophy behind EasyPin is do less but do it the best. It’s not a simple wrapper over Pinterest web site, either a tool with ‘Pin It’ marklet integrated.

EasyPin is a web browser, both from look-and-feel and functionality perspective:

It allows you to bookmark your favorite image sites.

One magic feature is, it adds pin icon onto images that are qualified to pin (image’s size is big enough and copyright is allowed). When the pin icon is clicked, it brings in the pinning window directly. With this feature, user can pin images with one single tap, other than ‘tap bookmark’ -> ‘tap Pin It marklet’ -> ‘wait for all images to show’ -> ‘choose the image that user is willing to pin’. It just gives the user pinning a piece of mind.

Another magic feature is, the app opens another window to load the pinning page, so user’s browsing context (which page user is browsing and where the page is scrolled to) is well kept.

And Finally, it has the ‘Pin It’ button on toolbar, if user wants to list all images, that’s still available with one single tap:

Here is a video that demonstrates the app:

The app will be on App Store soon. Drop us an email(support@pinssible.com). We can get back to you after it’s published.

Why we make EasyPin

EasyPin is our first app. The philosophy behind it is do less but do it the best.

Pinterest marklet is widely used for users to pin images. It works perfectly on PC browsers. This video from Pinterest.com show you how.

But when it comes to iPad, things are not easy. First you have to install the marklet script, that’s not easy for normal users. After you’re lucky enough to get the marklet working, you can start pinning in Safari. But wait, when you pin an image on a web page, the page you’re browsing will be replaced by the Pinterest pinning page. So you will lose what the browser has loaded for you. If you want the browsing page back, you have to tap ‘Back’ menu in the browser. Watching the video vividly shows the process.

If you happen to have several images you want to pin, you will have to go through the above processes several times. There are 5 finger taps for each round!

People are not satisfied with the user experience. Some apps in App Store improves the issue by providing a web browser with Pinterest Marklet integrated. But none of them solves the problem of leaving the browsing page.

We thought hard of how to improve it. And came up with “EasyPin for Pinterest”. This app is essentially a web browser. When pinning, it opens a separate window to load Pinterest page. So you don’t need to leave where you’re browsing! That makes pinning easier! The separate window seems easy from user experience perspective, but technically, there is a lot of work to be done. Well done, for the team!

Here is the app video, it shows the features of the app:

The app also allows you to copy and paste urls from other browsers, and even bookmark your favorite sites on home page. Stay tuned. It could pass App Store censorship in days.