Appifier iOS7 iPhone5 in hand

Free PSDs to Help You Design a Fresh App Icon for iOS 7

Last week’s announcement of iOS 7 shook things up for app developers everywhere. The world learned that it would finally be getting a refreshed take on the user interface that brought smartphones to the masses. 

The change is striking as you can see in the screenshot below. Gone are the textures and heavy typography that have graced millions of iOS devices around the world. They’ve been replaced by colors and elegant typography using a thinner sans-serif, HelveticaNeue-Ultra-Thin.

iOS6 versus iOS7 homescreen comparison

These visual changes mean that app makers need to be ready to provide a fresh new look and feel for their apps before the release of iOS 7. The first step in this freshening process is to evaluate how an app’s existing icon fits into the new homescreen.

In iOS 7, the home screen tends to have a brighter, more colourful feel by default. The geometry of icons themselves have changed. Icons are bigger, at 120x120px and have corners that are rounder with a border radius of 26px.

ios 6 versus iOS 7 icons comparison

However, the most interesting change to iconography in iOS 7 is what lies beneath the pixels. Apple has provided a great grid system for laying out your app icon.

We’ve created a handy PSD based on this grid to help you lay out your icons and combine it with all the stock background colours (white, gray, black, red, purple and blue gradients) as well as a few of our own styles to help you experiment with your icon design.

iOS 7 Icon Grid Appifier App Icon PSD

While we were working with Photoshop, we also built another PSD that allows you to frame your app icon in a high resolution iPhone5 image so that you can get a sense of how your app will look once it hits iOS 7 this fall.

iPhone5 iOS7 PSD

Get started and download your iOS 7 icon and home screen PSDs here so you can design an app icon that rocks. If you’ve read this far and liked what you saw, check out our product that lets you build native mobile apps for WordPress sites, Realtors and Events without writing a single line of code.

ConnectWithGoogle

Google Login Buttons Are Worth It

By Mike Gozzo

I stumbled upon a great post by Aaron from Mailchimp a few days ago on Hacker News. He mentions a common problem most SaaS providers face in their user experience, that of failed logins and lost passwords. It certainly is troubling to see so many people have trouble logging in and often just abandoning the service completely.

The Problem

Aaron raises some great points about how littering a login page with social login buttons can generate confusion among users coming back to your service and put security into the hands of a third party.

Internally, social login features have been the source of tremendous debate. Steve even ran an informal survey of our FounderFuel cohort and determined that the vast majority avoided social login, particularly due to privacy concerns around how the social data was being used and what it would publish to their stream.

Google to the Rescue

When we redesigned Appifier’s authentication system, we were required to support OAuth in order to integrate with one of our partner channels. Since we had already built in generic OAuth functionality, we decided to experiment with third-party authentication.

Since Appifier doesn’t require any kind of social information on a user, we elected not to integrate with Facebook and Twitter logins. Instead, we set up Google OAuth through their API console. This integration would not only allow users to quickly sign up to Appifier using their Google accounts, it also meant that Appifier could be included on the Chrome Web Store. We weren’t sure how much traffic the Chrome Web Store could bring to us but decided to take the leap anyway since it was so easy to do.

The Results

Since integrating with Google OAuth:

  • 51% of user accounts were created through Google OAuth.
  • 86 users have signed up through the Chrome Web Store alone within 1 month of being listed. We haven’t been featured or gotten any kind of special placement.

One weird result:

  • 11% of user accounts have an @gmail.com address but were signed up without OAuth

Overall, this data speaks for itself. If you’re building any kind of SaaS web app, take a good look at whether or not Google OAuth can work in your use case. It’s an integration that makes sense in the minds of potential users and if your results are anything like ours, you’ll almost certainly see growth in your user base as a result of your product being even easier to get started with.

4 Tips to design an App Icon that Doesn't Suck

4 Tips to Design an App Icon That Doesn’t Suck

At Appifier, we’ve helped clients build over 12,000 apps to date, without writing a single line of code. Despite the fact that we make building apps so easy and fun, we’ve found that many of our users start sweating when they realize that they need to design a tiny square image that perfectly captures the essence of their mobile app.

After all, apps and other digital content are so rich and complex, how can a designer simply boil them down and communicate a concept in a tiny square image?

These four tips will help you design a great app icon that stands out on touch devices and app stores, no matter what the platform.

1. Stick to Simplicity

Great Icons are inherently simple, since they’re a visual representation of a word, object or concept that conveys a clear message about your app and brand.  This visual representation needs to communicate its concept in the blink of an eye as a user quickly flicks through screen after screen of apps.

Simple icons keep type and intricacy to a bare minimum. That means avoiding whole words and “wide-angle” imagery. One way to do this is to focus on a key letter in your app’s name. This approach has been taken by many of the app store’s most popular apps.

single letter icons

Simple and Effective Single Letter Icons

2. Use your Uniqueness

Simple icons don’t always have to be based on a letter. In fact, many apps are based on a website or brand that provides a great deal of visual cues that users have become accustomed to.

Let’s take a look at Fiori, a typical WordPress-powered blog, to understand how to do this. When we wrote this blog post, the site’s logo incorporated a floral motif and bright butterflies flew around the header image.

Fiori Web Page with Graphic Elements Highlighted

Unique Elements of Brand

By combining these two graphic elements, we can design an icon that reflects the uniqueness of the app while retaining the simplicity that makes for a great icon. Notice how we didn’t need to re-illustrate the flowers or the butterflies, anyone can make this happen with some basic Photoshop skills.

Designing an app icon from a website

Combining elements into a unique app icon

Uniqueness doesn’t only have to be about graphic elements, it can also be reflected in mascots, characters and spokespeople that help tell an app’s story. Some popular apps have designed icons centered around these characters with great results.

Character Icons

Great icons based on recognizable characters in clear, dynamic poses

However, it’s really easy to fall into a design trap when building an icon around a mascot or character. Realtors are often guilty of this. If the character is not a central part of your brand, or if you don’t have great, interesting photography. Don’t do it.

Bad realtor icons

Boring photography and crowded design make these icons totally ineffective

3. Make it work in Monochrome

Many professional designers learned early on that a good design usually works in both monochrome and colour. When a design doesn’t work without colour, there’s usually something fundamentally wrong with how it’s communicating a concept.

Popular Monocrhome Icons

Most of the best-designed app icons look great in monocrhome. It’s no accident.

Try designing your icon by drawing it in black and white first, and then adding colour in a second step. When doing this, you should even try inverting the blacks and whites in your design and seeing how they work. This will give you a good sense about how your design will look on a dark or light background.

4. Test with Tools

Adobe templates to kick off your icon design. They help you render icons at various resolutions and get a sense of rounded corners, glossiness and other factors. Check them out for:

Find inspiration for your icon using the Noun Project. This clean site lets you search for any noun and shows you simple pictorial representations of the concept. It’s a great starting point for finding an visual way to communicate your concept that you can build off of.

One of our favourite web tools is Testico. This tool allows you to upload an icon and see it overlaid on a variety of iOS devices and background. It’s great for getting a quick look at all the different ways your icon will be displayed once it makes it to the app store and user’s devices.

Another great tool is Icon Strike. This unique, free tool from Flinto allows you to upload an icon and instantly preview what it will look like on YOUR iOS device. Simply upload your icon, send the link to your device through e-mail or SMS, and you’ll get a sample app icon on your home screen.

That’s all there is to it! If you liked this post and want to build your own apps, then check out Appifier. With Appifier, you can get started building mobile and iPad apps in under a minute, without writing a single line of code. The results look great and the team here is happy to help you turn your project into a success. Get started building your own app with Appifier today.

When you've finished putting together your app, publish it through Appifier for as low as 99$ (one-time) and enrollment in the iOS developer program. We'll help you get the app onto the app store and into the hands of your users everywhere!

How to Create an iPad App to Share and Sell Your Recipes

Everyone loves your creations in the kitchen. Whether you bake, grill, poach or braise, your friends and family are clamouring for a taste of what you’re cooking.

You’ve realized that your recipes are awesome, so how can you share them with the world while earning some well-deserved money for those hours you spent perfecting the recipes in the kitchen?

With Appifier, you can easily create your very own full-featured iPad recipe app to share and sell your recipes. It’s so easy, you can get started in under 60 seconds and you won’t even need to write a line of code. You can get started for free and try the app online, when you’re ready to publish the app and start earning money, you can get onto the app store for under $200, a small investment considering the amount of exposure and sales your app can generate.

Here’s what you’ll need to create the app

  • A free blog on WordPress.com
  • A free account on Appifier
  • Delicious recipes (preferably with loads of pictures)

Let’s get started!

Step 1: Create your Blog

create blog for ipad app

Sign up for your free blog on WordPress.com, make sure to set your blog to be viewable by everyone but block search engines.

Step 2: Add Your Recipes

Adding your first recipe is easy. Simply add a new post using your blog's administration tool. Don't forget to add in a tasty images too!

Adding your recipes is easy. Simply add new posts using your blog’s administration tool. Don’t forget to add in a tasty images too!  You can create categories here to organize your recipes however you see fit. This will make them easier to find in the app.

Step 3: Create your App on Appifier

Start by naming your app and selecing "Blog App" from the list of app types.

Start by naming your app and selecting “Blog App” from the list of app types.

Step 4: Provide your WordPress Details

Providing your WordPress details is really simple. Just tell us about the site and provide the URL that the app can use to access it.

Providing your WordPress details is really simple. Just tell us about the site and provide the URL that the app can use to access it.

Step 5: Style your App

Choose your app's colours and fonts to give it your own unique feel. When you're done, you can upload your very own icon and splash screen to stand out on the iPad's screen and in the app store.

Choose your app’s colours and fonts to give it your own unique feel. When you’re done, you can upload your very own icon and splash screen to stand out on the iPad’s screen and in the app store.

Step 6: Preview

Once you've styled your app, preview it instantly in your browser. You can go back and adjust the style and colour of your app as much as you'd like, previewing your changes as you go.

Once you’ve styled your app, preview it instantly in your browser. You can go back and adjust the style and colour of your app as much as you’d like, previewing your changes as you go.

Step 7: Publish

When you've finished putting together your app, publish it through Appifier for as low as 99$ (one-time) and enrollment in the iOS developer program. We'll help you get the app onto the app store and into the hands of your users everywhere!

When you’ve finished putting together your app, publish it through Appifier for as low as 99$ (one-time) and enrollment in the iOS developer program. We’ll help you get the app onto the app store and into the hands of your users everywhere!

That’s all there is to it! With Appifier, you can get started building mobile and iPad apps in under a minute, without writing a single line of code. The results look great and the team here is happy to help you turn your project into a success. Get started building your own app with Appifier today.

Appifier at LAUNCH 2013

Thanks to our friends at Stormboard, Appifier scored a booth at the LAUNCH 2013 festival over in SF this week. We’re happy to have met so many of our users and put faces to names. Good times were certainly had by all.

We took the opportunity to show off our new app builder for events and got some awesome feedback and interest from the crowd. Our solution allows any event organizer to create their own while-label, native app for their event that allows attendees to snap and share photos, chat messages, tweets and more. Appifier’s app builder for events can even pull in every tweet, photo and Instagram post related to an event from across the web in real-time.

If you want to check out the power of our platform, download our free LAUNCH 2013 app to your iPhone to get a good feel of what’s possible. We’d love to hear your thoughts on it and make it even more awesome!

Notman House is a machine for turning engineers into innovators

By Mike Gozzo

When I graduated with an engineering degree in 2006, I did what so many other bright engineers outside of the valley do: I went to work for a big company serving a niche market writing cool code that a dozen people would get to use. Many from my graduating cohort followed a similar path, ending up working for big defence contractors, banks or other creativity-sapping companies.

We didn’t choose this path because we weren’t talented enough to take more fulfilling jobs (there were many bright graduates with open source contributions, active side projects and more) We chose it because the alternative, working for or starting a tech startup seemed so far out of reach. Montreal simply didn’t have the vibrant technology community necessary for encouraging innovative endeavours despite having 4 universities that were quickly pumping out hundreds (if not thousands) of brilliant innovators.

Thankfully, this all changed when a project called Notman House was kicked off by some community leaders through the OSMO foundation. This project took a historic 19th century building and laid the groundwork for the ultimate community hackerspace. With such a hub in the community, evangelists like Heri Rakotomala emerged and engineers, designers and creative types from across the province began to come together to discuss things that they were passionate about and find ways to change the world.

The community that developed through Notman House embraced me and gave me the courage, support and eventually funding I needed to make Blogstand a reality. If this community never came together, I’d likely still be at some big company, managing a team of talented engineers, all of them with stifled dreams of how a man or woman with an idea in Montreal could change the world. If this sounds like you, then I invite you to drop into Notman House to explore and enter a community of people who are just like you and work towards realizing dreams that are just like yours.

Notman House needs your help to raise the last little bit of funding needed to make it the true home of the web and innovation in Montreal. Support the project however you can so that we can all say we played a part in creating a Silicon Island in this city.

 

Hey Entrepreneur – Please Get an MBA

By Mike Gozzo

 

A few years ago I was working in a job I loved with a company that was doing highly sophisticated technical work (ie, not what most consumer web companies do). I loved my technical role and the challenges and freedom it afforded me but I felt that there was a whole other side of the world that I didn’t understand.

I enrolled in a part-time MBA program in a well-ranked business school and got to working on case-studies, networking and all that good stuff on nights and weekends. My relationships became tired and strained and I literally sweat through managing both a technical career and a demanding academic curriculum. It took me some time (almost 5 years!) and I graduated with an MBA.

If you were to listen to some startup types (or worse yet, your early-stage VC investors) you’d skip grad school, stick to ramen in your garage while trying to nail a huge viral coefficient and plastering whiteboards with agile index cards and a huge ass lean canvas. After all, the only things that matter to your business are your user acquisition techniques and the number of people on your LinkedIn that are wearing hoodies in their profile pictures.

This is why if you’re serious about being an entrepreneur, an MBA will give you an extra edge:

1. What You Actually Learn

MBA programs vary from school to school, but you can be sure that by the time you’re out you’ll be conversant in a range of topics. You’ll know enough of everything business-y to be dangerous. Need to read a financial statement? Set up a pricing plan? Motivate your employees? Understand a VCs game-plan when he offers you a term sheet? Understand why you’re bleeding your seed money like a hunted seal? An MBA will teach you the fundamental theory that lets you answer each of these questions.

You will study almost every industry on the planet. During my MBA, we covered companies from Google to Avon from a variety of perspectives. Think that Avon has nothing to teach you about statup marketing? Think about how they built the ULTIMATE affiliate program and drove millions in revenue through user-acquisition before Zuck was even born. There are lessons in these companies and industries that are begging to be applied to the web and “disruption”

Sure you could teach yourself this by reading book after book (in fact you will read a great many during your MBA) but you likely won’t be talking about them over beers with your colleagues who share a range of experiences from industries unlike your own. I’m blessed to have people from Montreal to Mumbai in my MBA network that have built web startups, ran construction firms, brought pharamceuticals to market and kept steel mills running. The kind of perspective on strategy you get when combining these disparate points of view is as humbling as it is eye opening.

2. Tuition Costs

Tuition costs can be prohibitive for an MBA. I was lucky that in Quebec we pay the lowest costs for tuition in North America. My entire MBA cost under $10,000 (including books) through massive government subsidization (tuition for international students would be many times greater).

To make an educated decision about whether or not the tuition is worth it MBA style, you need to figure out the ROI. Thing is, it’s hard to put a precise dollar amount on the return you’ll get from your degree in the context of your first tech startup.

This will vary from person to person, but try to think long term and how the extra edge in terms of your career flexibility (what if this bubble bursts?) and your ability to communicate with stakeholders outside of Silicon Valley and Hacker News.

3. Time Commitment

MBA programs suck up your time. There’s no escaping it. If you want to do well, you need to work hard, attend a ton of group meetings, and write a heck of a lot of powerpoint decks. However, in a startup, you won’t have it any easier. An MBA is a great way to teach you how to find balance between your work and your personal life.

While studying I made some awful decisions that really put a damper on my interpersonal relationships. I was performing well at the office, was above average at school and failing with loved ones. I quickly learned how to balance it all and launched a startup. By the time I graduated, I had been on TechCrunch, through an accelerator, had a product in market, revenue and was interviewing my first employee. I actually didn’t attend convocation because I was prepping for an investor pitch. I also did this while caring about my family and building strong ties.

If I can do this. So can you.

4. The Wrong Network

I love YC’s model and their alumni network. I’d love even more to be plugged into it. That said, how much disruption can you really create when everyone in your circle has the same worldview?

MBA schools will lead to your network being choc-full of mid-level executives across a range of strange and traditional industries, but these people will challenge you to think about fundamentals of your business and ask you the tough questions that only an outsider could see.

Some of the best advice I received on raising capital and managing competition has come from a guy who works in Saskatchewan modelling the financials around wheat production. He also made an introduction that led to a term sheet.

5. Many MBA’s Choose Not to Start Businesses  (and who gives a shit)

Think about it, relatively few people start businesses.

You start a business because you’re passionate about a problem and want to resolve it your way.

MBA’s learn how to do it the traditional way: market studies and business plans (think lean startup but with a 30 page report stuck to it). Many simply don’t find the opportunity or don’t want to shoulder the risk. Web startups aren’t for everyone even if software is eating the world.

My Suggestion:

Follow your heart. If you want to be an entrepreneur, go out and be an entrepreneur. If you want an MBA, get an MBA. These two paths are complementary, not disparate and you can do both.

Most importantly remember that education is not about top 10 lists, how to guides or viral blog posts. Real education opens your mind to the world around you and helps you really understand the *why*. Remember that blindly executing is the fastest way to run off a cliff.