Developing Perspective

#91: Thank you and the Road from Here.


00:00:00   Hello and welcome to Developing Perspective. Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing

00:00:04   news of note to Nymas development, Apple, and the like. I'm your host, David Smith.

00:00:08   I'm an independent iOS developer based in Herne, Virginia, just out of Washington, D.C.

00:00:13   Today is Thursday, October 18th, and this is show number 91. Developing Perspective

00:00:18   is never longer than 15 minutes, so let's get started.

00:00:20   All right, so I want to start off by talking about yesterday, which if you've been following

00:00:26   along in the progression of the shows that I've been going through and talking about

00:00:29   this weather app I've been working on for about a month or something like that.

00:00:32   You'll know that yesterday I launched Check the Weather and it did more than I could ever have

00:00:38   dreamed. I mean, I'm so kind of sort of dumbstruck by exactly what happened yesterday. It doesn't

00:00:46   feel real, it doesn't really feel possible, but it is what it is and I'll just take that blessing

00:00:51   and enjoy it. So yeah, I mean, yesterday it went really well and I just wanted to start off the

00:00:56   show by thanking all of you. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from people who said

00:01:01   they really liked the process I've been going through on the show, talking about Check the

00:01:06   Weather as it's from its first, the first initial episode where I talked about how I

00:01:12   just had this idea that I couldn't get out of my head and I just had to build it, to

00:01:16   how I did some of the localizations, how I did the marketing, how I did some design and

00:01:20   performance and prototyping, really the whole thing. And the end result is what's in the

00:01:25   store right now and it's doing better than I ever thought it could.

00:01:29   So thank you.

00:01:30   It's just kind of humbling to see the response that has come out of all this work and it's

00:01:35   just awesome.

00:01:37   So thank you.

00:01:39   There's a couple of things that I wanted to talk about.

00:01:44   And they relate to the launch yesterday.

00:01:45   I don't want to get too much into that.

00:01:47   I wanted to kind of, rather than being too topical, I always try and sort of take a step

00:01:50   back in the show and think of how these things can apply generally, not just to my specific

00:01:55   circumstances or the current news or those types of things.

00:01:59   There are really two themes that I wanted to talk about.

00:02:02   And the first one is fairly simple, and the second one will be the main topic of the show.

00:02:06   The first thing I wanted to talk about is responsiveness.

00:02:09   And I mean that not in the sense of performance in the app or those kinds of things, which

00:02:12   are very important, but I mean responsiveness in terms of customer support.

00:02:17   Customer support is one of those things that I think a lot of developers just view as a

00:02:20   chore, as something that they really wish they didn't have to do, as that it's kind

00:02:25   of this afterthought.

00:02:27   It's just something that you have to deal with or put up with.

00:02:30   But the reality is customer support is an opportunity to interact with your customers.

00:02:35   And if you have any respect for your customers, you'll view customer support in a fairly positive

00:02:40   light, in that these are the people who are reaching out to you, asking you questions,

00:02:45   telling you about bugs, asking for features.

00:02:47   And you want to be as polite, competent, and responsive

00:02:52   to them as possible.

00:02:54   If you're trying to create a 360 degree

00:02:58   experience for your users, one of the things

00:03:00   that's a part of that is just being very responsive

00:03:03   and being very likable and taking responsibility

00:03:08   when things go badly and being accepting

00:03:11   of different opinions and so on.

00:03:14   And so what I've been trying to do--

00:03:15   and I've gotten actually a lot of positive comments

00:03:17   on this, which is a little bit meta--

00:03:20   but is I try very hard to have a shortened amount of time

00:03:25   between when you email me and when I gave you a response.

00:03:29   This has certain limits, obviously,

00:03:30   because I don't want it to become an all-consuming thing.

00:03:33   But especially at launch, when I'm

00:03:35   trying to feel out the app, I'm trying to feel out the market,

00:03:37   I'm trying to feel out what people really want,

00:03:39   I try and keep that down to a shortened amount of time

00:03:42   as possible.

00:03:43   And often, if you've emailed me in the last 24 hours,

00:03:47   there's a good chance I got to probably about half of you.

00:03:50   I got to within about two or three minutes

00:03:52   when you emailed me.

00:03:53   The other half, it's kind of like a fall off from there.

00:03:56   Obviously, when I was sleeping and those types of things,

00:03:58   it extends out.

00:03:59   But my goal is to really be responsive on that.

00:04:02   And I've heard from a lot of people

00:04:03   where they were having some problem.

00:04:06   Something's not right.

00:04:07   They're upset about something in the app.

00:04:09   And they're kind of venting that out in an email to me.

00:04:12   It's not personal, but they bought this app.

00:04:15   They invested some money into it,

00:04:18   and it's not working great.

00:04:19   And my responsibility is to turn that around.

00:04:22   And a lot of people I see, sometimes I have to say,

00:04:24   that's a bug.

00:04:25   There's a bug right now in the app.

00:04:27   It's like, I'm not sure if I want to say it.

00:04:29   I'll be like, whatever.

00:04:29   You're all nice people.

00:04:31   If you go into the app right now and you search for a zip code

00:04:34   that begins with zero, the app will crash.

00:04:37   Simple as that.

00:04:38   I'm working on the fix.

00:04:40   be out as soon as I can, but there's just that.

00:04:42   There's no two ways about it.

00:04:44   I missed that.

00:04:44   If you put in a zip code, it starts with zero.

00:04:46   The app crashes.

00:04:47   And I had a couple people email me that.

00:04:49   That's really frustrating if you happen

00:04:50   to live in one of the places that has

00:04:52   a zip code that begins with zero.

00:04:54   But a lot of these people, they come at me like, hey,

00:04:57   the app's broken.

00:04:58   And I'm like, sometimes it's within 30 seconds,

00:05:00   within a minute or two minutes, I'm on there

00:05:02   and saying, I'm so sorry.

00:05:04   I know that's frustrating.

00:05:06   I'm looking at the fix.

00:05:07   I'll have it out as soon as I can.

00:05:08   And people are generally very responsive to that.

00:05:11   You can turn these people around and make them your allies,

00:05:15   rather than adversaries.

00:05:18   I mean, I had a great example.

00:05:19   There was a gentleman who emailed me

00:05:20   with a similar situation to that.

00:05:22   And he had this, like, I like the app.

00:05:25   It's overall very aesthetically pleasing.

00:05:28   It has these few functional problems.

00:05:30   And while I don't believe in giving bonus points for looks,

00:05:33   because if I did, your app would win a few of those.

00:05:36   But I give stars for functionality, so one star.

00:05:41   That's what he said.

00:05:42   Five minutes later, I email him back, answer his problem,

00:05:46   trying to give him a workaround.

00:05:47   He emails me back, whatever, half an hour later, and says,

00:05:52   I don't give bonus points for looks,

00:05:53   but I do give bonus points for attentive care and customer

00:05:56   support.

00:05:57   I'm going back and changing my review.

00:05:59   And that's just validating.

00:06:02   That's a customer who is starting

00:06:03   in a place of frustration and in a place of loyalty.

00:06:08   And that's my goal.

00:06:09   And that's something that we should all just

00:06:11   be striving towards.

00:06:12   And yes, over time, I'll be moving my help desk out

00:06:15   of my own inbox to have someone who does operations for me,

00:06:19   who typically does a lot of help desk, at least

00:06:21   the first round of help desk.

00:06:22   But that goal for level of care and attention

00:06:26   is something that will carry through that.

00:06:29   And so just wanted to mention that.

00:06:32   The next thing I wanted to talk about

00:06:34   is how to deal with customer feedback.

00:06:38   And we talk about this in this instance

00:06:40   through the lens of the UI choices

00:06:43   I made in Check the Weather.

00:06:45   So Check the Weather, if you haven't seen it,

00:06:47   at least go look at the screenshots in the app.

00:06:49   It'll probably be helpful for this discussion.

00:06:52   But Check the Weather is a very opinionated app

00:06:55   in terms of the way it looks.

00:06:56   And it's designed around what I think looks good.

00:06:59   And if I'm honest, when I built the app,

00:07:01   I didn't really expect it to get a lot of traction.

00:07:03   And so it's designed how I would like it,

00:07:05   and people around me seem to like it, and that was that.

00:07:09   As it's gotten to a broader audience,

00:07:11   and a broader audience than I ever thought would be possible,

00:07:14   the strength of those choices and the opinionatedness of it

00:07:19   means that for some people, it turns them off.

00:07:22   For some people, they don't really like it.

00:07:24   For some people, Idlewild, which is the main font I use,

00:07:26   is just too sharp.

00:07:28   It's a bit too much.

00:07:30   And that is good to know.

00:07:35   And now it creates kind of a funny thing.

00:07:37   Because you hear from a lot of developers

00:07:40   that it's kind of this aversion to settings,

00:07:42   an aversion to preferences.

00:07:45   And I think there's a place for that,

00:07:47   that you don't want to get too carried away.

00:07:50   You want to make a lot of decisions for your user.

00:07:53   But I always try and not think that I'm smarter than my user.

00:07:59   As soon as I start thinking to myself, you know, I know what's best.

00:08:03   I'm going to pick the best font and I'm going to just ram it down their throats.

00:08:08   As soon as I start doing that, I've kind of lost track and lost touch with really what

00:08:14   I'm doing here.

00:08:15   I'm trying to make an app to solve a problem.

00:08:18   And the problem it's solving is the problem the user is facing.

00:08:25   customer of mine is going to be looking at the app way more than I am in aggregate.

00:08:31   You know, all of my customers will in theory be spending hours and hours a day looking

00:08:35   at an app that I create.

00:08:37   And I want that to be as positive of an experience for all of them as possible.

00:08:42   And this really got me thinking about, there was a great talk, I'll link in the show notes,

00:08:46   to a talk that Malcolm Gladwell gave at TED.

00:08:50   And basically what he was talking about is this really interesting sort of product design

00:08:54   story. He did it twice, once with Pepsi and once with pasta sauce in the talk, but I'm

00:09:02   just going to talk about the Pepsi one. And basically, he was talking about the story

00:09:05   of this guy who was tasked by Pepsi when aspartame was invented, who they were going to make

00:09:10   diet Pepsi. They wanted to work out how much aspartame to put in it, what concentration

00:09:15   of sweetness is the best Pepsi. And that was this guy's tasking. And he said, "Go and do

00:09:21   And like any good scientist would, he laid out--

00:09:24   he created different samples at various concentrations.

00:09:27   Say for argument's sake, it's like from 8% to 12% in 1%

00:09:32   increments.

00:09:32   And he did a massive taste test with a statistically valid

00:09:36   sample set and put it out and looked at the data.

00:09:38   And he was kind of expecting, maybe we'll have a bell curve

00:09:40   around some point, and that will be the point that we'll

00:09:43   pick.

00:09:44   But what he found, which was surprising to him and

00:09:47   surprising in the field at the time, was that rather than

00:09:50   Rather than having a single peak, there were multiple peaks.

00:09:52   There was almost a flat line in some cases,

00:09:55   and there wasn't really a clear choice.

00:09:57   There wasn't a best Pepsi.

00:10:00   And the insight that he drew from that, that later came on

00:10:04   to revolutionize product design, especially in the food

00:10:07   industry, was the realization that there is no best Pepsi.

00:10:11   There's best Pepsis.

00:10:13   And every customer is after something different.

00:10:17   Every customer has a different taste,

00:10:19   has a different style, has a different want.

00:10:22   And a product designer who sort of becomes too conceited

00:10:29   with themselves and their ability to have good taste,

00:10:31   that gets to a point where they start ignoring what

00:10:35   other customers may like, becomes nonresponsive,

00:10:39   becomes sort of in some ways antagonistic to some

00:10:42   of their users.

00:10:43   And I think that's a very dangerous road to go down.

00:10:46   There's a road to be opinionated on.

00:10:48   But the things that you want to be opinionated about are areas where you are making choices

00:10:56   that you think really will make the user experience better.

00:11:01   And so maybe this gets into, like, if we check the weather, it's the degree to which I have

00:11:04   clutter in the application.

00:11:05   You know, I get a lot of requests.

00:11:07   It's like, I want to see this data, this data, this data, this data.

00:11:10   If I took all the pieces of data that people want and put them all on the screen at the

00:11:13   same time, it'd be completely unreadable.

00:11:16   So I'm not responding to those people in aggregate in that way.

00:11:19   But what I'm going to be doing, and what I think addresses this in a way that

00:11:22   is kind of works well there, is I'm going to be adding themes to check the weather.

00:11:27   And I'll have a variety of them.

00:11:28   I'll have the current one that I have that I like, that I think

00:11:31   is kind of a very strong kind of this like past future look to it that I just--

00:11:36   I love.

00:11:37   But it's not for everybody.

00:11:40   And so rather than being sort of stuck on that point,

00:11:44   I'm instead just going to go and I'm going to add some themes.

00:11:46   I'm going to add a vanilla theme probably, just a, you know, whatever, Helvetica theme

00:11:52   that looks totally native on the device, nothing special, just very sort of bland.

00:11:59   I'll add a couple of others that are a bit more styled, add a few different colors rather

00:12:03   than just black and white.

00:12:04   Maybe it'll be a dark theme, maybe it'll be a light theme, and just kind of mix it up

00:12:08   because ultimately what I want is to end up with every customer being able to look at

00:12:13   the app and say, you know, that fits me, that suits me.

00:12:19   It kind of reminds me of when you go and buy, which is something I've never done, but I've

00:12:23   heard about people who do it, who go and buy a nice high-end car.

00:12:26   So you go and buy a BMW, or you buy a Mercedes, or you buy an Audi, or whatever it is, you're

00:12:32   buying a lot of the choices that their designers have made.

00:12:35   And some of those choices are things you can't change.

00:12:37   But typically the things that you can change are the things that are non-functional, the

00:12:41   the things that are aesthetic.

00:12:43   Because everyone's aesthetic, I think, varies more

00:12:46   than their functional choices they would make.

00:12:49   And so my goal is that I'll end up with a few themes that

00:12:52   rather than addressing just one segment of the population,

00:12:56   like the 8% group, I'm going to also be addressing the 12%

00:13:00   group and the 11% group, and kind of addressing and making

00:13:05   the app feel at home to everybody,

00:13:07   rather than kind of having myself impose that onto them.

00:13:11   And I think that'll go over well from the people I've talked about so far and the feedback

00:13:14   I've gotten.

00:13:15   I think I've heard from a lot of people that that kind of minor change will have a big

00:13:20   impact on their enjoyment of the app.

00:13:22   And as a developer, I'm okay with that.

00:13:24   I'm not one of these people who's going to get too stuck on the fact that I have a settings

00:13:28   section and I already do.

00:13:29   I have to have one for Celsius and Fahrenheit and 24-hour time.

00:13:33   And so adding a little section in there where you have a few options that you can choose

00:13:37   from isn't a big deal from a functional side.

00:13:39   not a lot of work. I mean themes in general are pretty easy to do because it's mostly

00:13:44   just colors and fonts. You know there's a few structural and sizing and alignment things

00:13:48   you have to tweak to make sure it looks good. But overall there's not a lot that I have

00:13:51   to do to make that happen. And I'm just being respectful enough of my user to say, "You

00:13:55   know what? I don't know all the right answers, but my goal is to make your experience as

00:14:00   good as possible." So that's what I'm going to do.

00:14:03   Alright, that's it for today's show. Again, I just wanted to thank everybody for their

00:14:07   their support, it's been awesome.

00:14:09   And as always, if you have questions, comments, or

00:14:11   concerns, I'm on Twitter @_DavidSmith.

00:14:14   I'm on AppNet @justdavidsmith.

00:14:17   And otherwise, if you have a great weekend, happy coding.

00:14:20   And I'll talk to you guys next week.