AppMakr – a great tool for bloggers going mobile

appmakr

So I’ve been checking out AppMakr recently  since I’m investigating quick ways for website owners and bloggers to publish their content on mobile. I looked at AppMakr several years ago when I was writing the eBook and thought it had serious potential. Last year AppMakr launched GetSocialize, a drop-in social media plugin for apps, and that makes it super interesting to me. (GetSocialize was bought by ShareThis in March of this year)

Since I’m using GetSocialize for sharing in my current development, and I find it pretty powerful, AppMakr is now back on my radar and I thought I should test it out.

I’ve looked at similar software before. A while ago I signed up for Seattle Clouds thinking this might be the solution for really simple app developments, and while it probably is a good solution for some, I found it too expensive and complicated for the average, non-technical person.

AppMakr claims that you can build your app for free, no coding required. Now, I’ve long thought this kind of claim meant that someone behind the scenes was building the app for you in a bucket shop somewhere. Of course, I’ve no proof of that, just my thought because at the time this was a pretty impossible feat.

But it was obvious a few years ago that DIY is the goal and I think AppMakr has pulled it off. They seem to have really covered the basics and then some. They claim you can build your app in minutes – so I did just that. I took the RSS feed from this blog and started building. The tool allows you to make some basic color choices, upload icons and splash screens, plug in your RSS and you’re good to go. You don’t even have to do any more than that.

appmakz2

I haven’t yet investigated all the features like social sharing, monetization, push notifications, images galleries, etc. But so far, this looks like a super easy solution for bloggers. I haven’t published what I build so can’t determine how easy the publish process is.

The AppMakr monetization model is my favorite. There is nothing like getting something you really want for free and then looking at what you’ll get if you pay a little. This is a real winner for those who want proof of concept before opening their wallet.

AppMakr is a DIY tool that makes publishing an app super easy for an amateur. I think many bloggers would be seriously interested in this.

Advertisements

How to build an app: 30 great tutorials

Design an iPad app user interface

Design an iPad app user interface

Great article in the creativebloq. There is really so much information on the web about the process of creating apps. It is becoming much easier for non-developers to jump into this market. I remember a few years ago when I was just starting this process, I scoured the internet for tutorials, articles, books – anything I could find. I came across my fair share of discouraging posts. Programmers who insisted that this is an arena for techies only and scoffed at the idea that just anyone with a dream could actually succeed. There were already signs that the need to open this up was creating a market of app-builders, how-to and others ready to provide this help.

Well, How to build an app: 30 great tutorials proves how far we’ve come and I was glad to see Phonegap and Sencha mentioned. I will be checking all of them out.

Focus is key

Photo 16-10-2011 11 48 58 I’ve tried to decide how useful social media really is and whether I want to bother with it at all. After fooling around with Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for a year, I thought that social media would not yield much as a marketing vehicle, and would end up to be a colossal waste of time. So I read a LOT and watched lynda.com social media tutorials. Then, I listed the social media elements and decided to state what my expectations were from each of them. I suddenly found they were not useful as the usual marketing tools. The effort involved in maintaining them would not be justified. But, what I did find was that certain social media would be extremely valuable in unexpected ways.

The expectation changed, and the plan formed. I’m still not a fan of Facebook business pages and don’t see what that will yield except occasional exposure to the massive Facebook world. I’ve concluded that social media as a marketing tool is not entirely a write off. It would be a big mistake to spend all of your marketing energy too freely. Focus is key.

 

Advertising from a user perspective

The only way I, as a user, want advertisers interrupting my experience, is if –

  • I am in “consumer mode” and am looking for something.
  • If the Ad is so well-targeted that I can’t resist clicking on it.
  • It is so visually appealing that it piques my curiosity and makes me want to grab at it like a shiny new toy.

I have created Ads that are very clickable, but I have never seen an Ad that I couldn’t resist clicking on. I think web Ads, in general, are pretty week. Being one of those visual people who compulsively looks at anything that ‘pops’, the fact that I don’t click on Ads actually says a lot for the visual appeal of Google Ads. Maybe that’s not entirely fair, but the Ads that appear in my apps are generally the same ones over and over, and they are dull as dishwater.

One annoying little trick I’ve noticed in apps is that the programmer puts other essential buttons right above or below the banner so that you accidentally click. I’ve done this so many time in my Solitaire app. I think it’s sneaky, but ultimately I can’t fault them too much for wanting revenue after all of their effort to build the app.

Solitaire app

Consumer mode

This is really tricky. Normally when someone is in the middle of a session in an app, they aren’t looking to buy shampoo or anything else. I would venture to say that the only thing they could possible by looking for is something related to the app or something that compliments what they are doing. So, there is the possibility a particular app can actually bring out the ‘consumer’ in the app user. Advertising other similar apps is an obvious example. If an ad for some great organizational tool popped up while using Evernote there is a strong likelihood that the person using Evernote would be interested.

Ads that hit the bulls eye

Ads should be as contextual as possible. Serving up Ads that relate to the current activity is optimal for the banner Ad at the bottom because, with the correct Ad comes the likelihood that the user will click. An example of this is with travel apps. If I’m using Viator, Hotels.com, Kayak or something similar, chances are that travel-related advertising will definitely catch my eye. What often happens, however, is that I’m in a travel app and see ads for the very same site. What a waste! What should happen is that I’m looking for hotels in Belize and see Ads for hiking boots, luggage, mosquito repellant, etc. When we reach this point in Ad filtering, Ads will bring in some serious revenue. If there is a way to do this, I haven’t seen it in action yet. Ads in the apps I buy remain unclicked.

The beauty of it

You don’t have to have an artistic eye to have a positive visual response to something. I wrote a long post about app icons being visually appealing. Ads should be visually appealing as well. I’m amazed at how many large advertisers are still in text mode. There can be a lot of movement and rotating, which is more annoying than effective. But, the Ads themselves are overwelmingly text-based. The choice of colors is uninspiring. A lot of the big advertisers are really state-of-the-art and they get all of the attention, but I doubt they get many clicks. That doesn’t matter, actually.

So what is the purpose of the Ad? I think it is either to prompt and immediate action (buy this now!) or the purpose this serves for the advertiser is to keep the brand exposure up. The large advertisers don’t really need your click. They just need to stay on the radar. So if you see their Ad and don’t bother to click the Ad has fulfilled its purpose and they haven’t spent a dime.

The small app developer is looking at clicks, however. No clicks means no revenue, so these big guns are kind of taking up space. I want to see a way to filter out the larger brands and then better Ads from smaller companies; more color, catchier phrases. This, unfortunately, is in their hands.

The advertising dilemma

Image

advertising

In my next app, advertising will figure heavily since the app will be free. I think by now app users have resigned themselves to the fact that if they are getting something wonderful for nothing they can’t complain about Ads. I like the idea of Ad-free version but I’m not sure why anyone would find Ads so disruptive that they simply can’t bear to have them appear at all. So I wouldn’t offer an Ad-free version.

Now I’m debating all of the monetization possibilities and actually trying to come up with something new and very app-appropriate. This comes from the thought that, yes, advertising is really considered something negative in the user experience, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

So, these are the questions:

What if Ads aren’t the necessary evil? When are they an asset? What if an Ad actually enhances user experience? How can this happen?

And on the advertisers side of things, instead of them paying you to access your customer base, can an advertiser’s participation in your advertising model give you access to their existing customer base?

Any thought on this?