SaltRights

SaltRights is the premier app for the outdoorsman in your family. It includes a way to "capture" images of your latest catch, see a "Hall of Fame" and take part in the SaltRights hunting and fishing community.

WealthVest Financial Planner

WealthVest had a PDF and a thought: "Let's make a 'cool' app for the iPad that our Financial Advisors can use to demonstrate our ideas to potential clients." With so little to go on, this project exemplifies the process we use to help the client focus, bringing the obtuse and subjective into the concrete and tangible, and delivering an app that exceeds expectations.

If you want to build a high quality home, for the best chance of success you'll hire an architect. The architect will collect all of your ideas (requirements gathering) and transform them into a set of professional documents (blueprints) that clearly instruct the builder how to complete your project.

You can envision sitting with that architect and going through magazines and books discussing the type of home you want to build, communicating your ideas as best you can. In the discovery phase, the architect will introduce exercises to help you fill in as much detail as possible to realize your dream. The architect is simply a facilitator of your vision.

Developing great software is no different. Without a quality set of blueprints the results will be mediocre at best. For our process, we generally require that all of the following stages have at least been considered. The process of creating these documents is an invaluable phase of discovery and development that shouldn't be undervalued.

Putting the ideas into a semi-formal document does several things. First, it forces you to make concrete statements and put them down on paper. Second, it creates a reference for later. The exercise of creating these documents is as important as the documents themselves. We can do as little, or as much hand-holding as is necessary on a per project basis.

Let's start at the beginning, and work through the process.

Vision

This is a critical first step to any project. Begin with a short paragraph describing your product in the simplest terms possible. Keeping it as short as possible is best. We prefer 3-4 sentences, but a couple paragraphs are ok too. It usually ends up making a great mission statement, or litmus test when trying to determine what features are important for release of version 1.0 of your product. Honing this helps with your "30 second elevator talk" too.

Discovery

Discovery encompasses a set of exercises used to perform and in-depth analysis of the product concept. Each step provides further clarity and hones in on the conceptual definition. There are four important steps in our discovery process.

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Architecture

This is where our work really begins in earnest. The previous exercises help us to identify the product definition, but from here forward we're designing the solution. There are many decisions made here that will impact the entire product lifecycle.

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Graphic Design

To a lot of people, hiring a graphic designer feels like giving up control of how your app looks. This is a common misconception. A great graphic designer uses a structured process to understand what you may have a difficult time communicating. Remember, graphic designers speak in a visual language every day. You don't have to give up control at all. They'll help you create the vision that is within you.

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Production

We open up the proper development environments, XCode for iOS / Eclipse for Android, and setup the project. Very easy and mostly handled by the XCode or Eclipse "New Project" tool. Here we make decisions about how to get started on the right foot. Is this an app for the iPhone, iPad, or Android? This is where we import the graphics package created by the graphic designer.

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Web Services

Fast, lightweight web services are critical to app success. While your app code is distributed to unlimited devices, your servers will often be your bottleneck. Your database and web services must be engineered to handle the load.

Android Development

Building great Android apps shouldn't be about "porting" iOS code. We take a different approach. The Android user interface and usage patterns are dramatically different and deserve their own design. We'll make sure your Android audience feels respected, and not force them to adhere to iOS design patterns.

iOS Development

Building great apps is our passion. Our product design and implementation is user driven from the first prototype. Developing compelling user experiences from initial impression to deep engagement is our primary focus. Let us show you how we've helped founders turn their vision into to a great app.


App Flow

How you prompt your users to move through your app is critical to ward off abandonment. If users don't know what to do next, they become frustrated and may put the app down for good. Making sure the next step is always obvious is critical. Through the use of paint-overs, tutorials, wizards, and thoughtful help systems we can ensure that your users get engaged and stay engaged.

User Interface

User Interface is the space where interaction between humans and the hardware device occurs. For effective use of today's complex products, successful interfaces have to provide the appropriate layout and visual cues to guide the user through the product with little or no training. We're experts at nailing these visual assets.

User Experience

To us, user experience encompasses just how it feels to use the app. From the initial impression of branding and the app's icon, to deep engagement and re-engagement, the app has to feel right. We've got a process that's second to none when it comes to creating great user experiences.

Contact

Email is best: j@sonwolfe[DOT]com

Direct: (831) 440-8704

Office Skype: jasondanielwolfesccal




 
 

Discovery

Discovery encompasses a set of exercises used to perform and in-depth analysis of the product concept. Each Step provides further clarity and hones in on the conceptual definition. There are four important steps in our discovery process.

User Stories

A narrative written from the users perspective, user stories will help us to determine if we've got the right idea. How is the software used by each of the different people that will interact with the system? Create a short section for each user, with as little as a sentence or as much as a few paragraphs. These "users" are the actors (and may or may not be stakeholders) in your software system, and it's important to give them a title and respect their position from the start.

Research

Create a collection of screenshots of relevant competitive apps, or apps that have mastered features that your app may contain. There's no reason to reinvent the wheel. If your app takes photos, then look to see what the top photo apps are doing, and what you can learn from their experience and design decisions.

Product Requirements

This is where we begin to define what the product does. The important note is that it should be written from a descriptive / marketing perspective, with little focus on software language. Appropriate statements would be "This application will allow you to search for shoes you like at your favorite retail store." It should be as if you're talking to us, and explaining what you want the app to do.

Functional Requirements

This doc is basically the answers to the product requirements document written by a software developer. The statements in the product requirements doc transform into "how" we will do it. Example: "The system will present a list view of shoes, categorized by style, color and size. A shoe can be selected to see a detail view, with links to add to cart or go back to the list view." This gets us closer to a system architecture, and it's the first part that the software developer can really take control of and start producing for you.

 
 

Architecture

User Experience Study

The purpose here is to explore what it feels like to find, load, and run your app. From the first impression to the last we want to consider the way our app will influence the emotions of the user.

Is the app engaging from start to finish? Is the first impression a positive one (cool startup animation with audio), or do they get a logo and then a "Loading…" activity spinner? Are we going to engage the user and make the user smile from step one? Or will their first impression be a negative one? What's it like to use the app to perform all of the available tasks? How do they hold the phone and where do their fingers fall on the device? Where will they use the app and should fonts be larger? Consider how you feel at every step. Maybe even mark areas of your design document with smiley faces, apathetic faces, or frowns (registration screens would get a sad face while animations would get a smile) and keep it balanced. Just think, "What is the user's experience like here?"

Gliffy Diagrams / Flow Chart

The software developer will begin to create a diagram / chart for each screen the user will move through, capturing the flow and action for each step. Though there are exceptions to this rule, each object on the page should represent an object in the software.

Balsamiq Mock Ups / Wireframes

These mock ups will display what's actually on each of the screens defined in the flow chart. We're only concerned with getting everything on the screen, not layout, etc. That will come later. Using Balsamiq's "pencil drawing" tool helps us to remember not to get caught up in the look and feel or UI design at this point.

Software Requirement Specification

This is a good time to start pushing the functional requirement document further, into a very objective and detailed software requirements specification. Some projects of small scope may not require this level of detail. It's a very objective, normalized document that approaches something legally enforceable.

 
 

Graphic Design

Discovery / Client Exercises

To a lot of people, hiring a graphic designer feels like giving up control of how your app looks. This is a common misconception. A great graphic designer uses a structured process to understand what you may have a difficult time communicating. Remember, graphic designers speak in a visual language every day. You don't have to give up control at all. They'll help you create the vision that is within you.

One of the exercises that we like to invite clients to do is a fun step-by-step process that will help us hone in on a truly forward design that speaks to your market and attitude perfectly. Basically, we ask them to go to our client list and click through the clients that speak to them from their logo alone and let us know the first few they’re drawn to (write them down immediately, we'll discuss later). This will be based on attitudes they already have about those companies or the look and feel of the logo. The client list is located here: http://techgrayscale.com/clientele.html.

Next, click this link (http://techgrayscale.com) and do the same thing (except this time you're looking at our work), letting us know which actual work that was preformed that you are drawn to. Put these in list number 2 and we'll discuss them later. Don't worry about making too many notes at this point because we'll get specific about elements of the design in our review.

After you record your first reactions from part 1 and 2, we'd encourage you to go through the rest of our work and note things you like and don't like. This is your time to praise and criticize us so that we can learn about you. We'll have lots of questions for you when we meet after you've completed this exercise.

Mood Boards

As part of the discovery process we like to have clients sit down with magazines, photographs, etc. and create a collage of visual elements that represent the visual direction of the application. We call these mood boards, and graphic designers use these to sell their ideas at the conceptual level. For a Mercedes feel we might have an image of a stylish woman playing golf, a luxury home, a Rolex, or a sailboat… I think you get the point. Communicate and create a mood with pictures.

Interview

In this stage we can talk about what you learned in the discovery process and putting the process in the designer's hands.

User Experience Design

This is the stage where the graphic designers gets to evaluate the ideas that we've begun to form in earlier stages about how an application should function. What's it like to use the app? Do you tap and scroll, hold it to your ear, talk into it? Do you move it around like a Wii device?

User Interface Design

This is where we actually start laying out the elements on the screen. "A scroller on the right, a segment controller at the top, three buttons on the side." Each of the mock up / wireframes in the earlier architecture stage begins to take shape.

Graphic Design

Here we define the color, shape, font, etc. of the buttons that we added in the user interface design stage.

Proof Development

This is where we polish and finalize the first screens that you'll see and approve.

Screen Comps

Screens are developed and prepared for asset creation.

Asset Creation

From the Photoshop PSD files and screen comps we cut out all of the necessary buttons and graphic assets to be imported into the XCode project to be compiled into the app.

 
 

Production

Project setup

We open up the proper development environments, XCode for iOS / Eclipse for Android, and setup the project. Very easy and mostly handled by the XCode or Eclipse "New Project" tool. Here we make decisions about how to get started on the right foot. Is this an app for the iPhone, iPad, or Android?. This is where we import the graphics package created by the graphic designer.

Party APIs, Frameworks, Libraries Integrated

This is where we cut in the code for adding things like Facebook, RestKit, Core Data, etc. and get them to compile so that we have the code we need.

Object Architecture

We setup the initial classes and lay things out according to the flowchart created in the architecture phase.

Database Architecture & Model

Concurrently, we develop the database to support the app and begin to build the web services. This way our front-end and back-end developers can work in tandem and be in close communication.

Web Service API Dev

The code that passes information back and forth between the app and the database is created.

Agile AdHoc Distribution

The app is distributed in agile, progressive builds for review in a tight feedback loop.

Client Feedback Collection

Feedback is collected in our client side project management software Podio. Here we can manage individual threads about specific subjects, tracking progress in a highly tuned way.

Products

Feedbands

Feedbands is an ad-free music streaming service that plays the newest music from independent artists.

Browse music by tags to find tracks and bands you like and listen to feeds based on genre, instrument, mood, temo and other descriptive words.

Vote on songs you like, create playlists, and even see charts of the most popular artists.

Watch out Pandora, there's a new heavyweight in town!


Testimonial

Your team put in a long week. It is 10:30pm and I'm still getting emails from Hans and Matt, which it really speaks to the level of commitment in your team.

Additionally, I looked over the code today with a close friend of mine who I would consider an Expert+ level coder who sold his last project to Atari. He was VERY impressed by the code in our project, and how everything was written. He mentioned that whoever wrote it seriously knew their (stuff) and wrote it extremely clean and clear.

Thanks again!

Alex Grappo - Founder, Feedbands