Shoutem – Mobile App Creator – Make App http://blog.shoutem.com Apps should be easy Thu, 18 Aug 2016 15:39:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Review of 10 Festival Apps for the Summer of 2016 http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/08/18/review-10-festival-apps-summer-2016/ http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/08/18/review-10-festival-apps-summer-2016/#respond Thu, 18 Aug 2016 15:39:14 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10340 It is that time of the year once again when music festivals are blooming. There isn’t a single part of the US or Europe where you can’t find a real music event to suit your taste. Group traveling in old

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It is that time of the year once again when music festivals are blooming. There isn’t a single part of the US or Europe where you can’t find a real music event to suit your taste. Group traveling in old VW wagons, parties till early in the morning, summer star-watching while lying on the grass, and all the other perks of the Woodstock era, are still here, but a few things have changed since your parents were taking an occasional woof in the back of the old VW Beetle.

Mobile apps are pretty much a priority if you are organizing any public event, and festivals are no exception. Having a good mobile app will ensure that your audience gets the information they need for attending such an event, andas a bonusgives you, as an organizer, a fantastic marketing tool.

We picked ten festivals (actually 12, to be fair, but you’ll see that in the rest of the article) and rated their mobile apps.

How we tested?

We graded three aspects of each application: its design, information quality, and usability. The overall score is a combination of the average of the first two scores, and our overall score, which relates to the overall feel look and feel of the app. All the apps were tested on iOS devices, with an iPhone 5 and iPhone 6. So let’s roll out the first contender.

Coachella 2016

Coachella is a music and arts festival held at the Empire Club in Indio, California, located in the Coachella Valley of the Colorado Desert. The festival itself is great, but the app not so great.

The first thing that boggled us was the fact that there are just too many permissions on the first screen. Another thing was that the app has a double-tap bar in the news/social section, which is rather confusing. The app has some cool features like VR, but you have to download a separate app for that.

Coachella 2016 festival app

Glastonbury

Glastonbury Festival is a five-day festival of contemporary performing arts that takes place near Pilton, Somerset, in England. It has a very long tradition, dating back to the ‘70s.

The Glastonbury app requests a push permission just as you start the app (isn’t that annoying?), and it is very slow, even on the latest hardware. The design is inconsistent: there is no artist section, though you can navigate through the tiny line-up section to find an artist you are looking for, and the info about them good luck with that.

The thing that bothered us the most was the ad at the bottom of the screen. This badly affected the usability because, as with any ad on the screen, there is less room on the app for the actual content.

Glastonbury festival app

Rock Werchter

Rock Werchter is a Belgian annual music festival held in the village of Werchter, near Leuven. It, too, has a long tradition, dating back to the mid-‘70s.

Their app, on the other hand, doesn’t feel old at all. On first glance it has a shiny, fresh design that uses some neat effects and transitions; however, the minute you start using it you realize that something is way off. Scheduling works really bad, UX and UI are inconsistent, and getting to some parts of the app is like using a labyrinth the font size is way too small.

We honestly liked the use of colors and certain design elements, even the up-to-date user mechanics, but they just aren’t used in the right way.

Rock Werchter mobile festival app

Roskilde

Roskilde is an annual music festival held in the south of Roskilde in Denmark. Yet again, it dates back to the start of the ’70s.

The Roskilde app was one of the better apps in our review; unfortunately it fails on the most basic things, like requesting permissions at the start. The general focus of the app is obviously on the music itself on the listening, to be exact. It features a slick Spotify integration, Facebook integration, maps, food locator, and some other cool features, packed in an overall unique, but very elegant, design. Good job.

Roskilde mobile festival app

Nova Rock

Nova Rock is a music festival in eastern Austria that has been going down since 2005. We sadly admit that Nova Rock was one of the worst apps on the test. From a design standpoint, the color choice could be better, as could the font size (and choice) too, and the usability is not so great either.

The app sometimes looks like a web page without the loaded CSS, which isn’t that much of a surprise because more than half of the app is loaded via website modules. At least the app works fine (no hiccups, and every one loads pretty fast).

Nova Rock mobile festival app

Pinkpop

Again, we are sad to report that the Pinkpop app doesn’t go hand in hand with the festival it represents. First of all, the app doesn’t have an English version, so we were just tapping on the dark pushing buttons.

For the rest of the world that doesn’t speak Dutch, this app is unusable, which made us wonder whether the organizer actually wanted to target an audience outside of The Netherlands. On top of that, it takes way too long to load the map (over a minute on the iPhone 6S).

Pinkpop mobile festival app

Rock am Ring & Rock im Park

Rock am Ring & Rock im Park are two simultaneous rock music festivals held annually in Germany from 1985. Interestingly, there are two apps for both of these festivals, but they are almost identical (except for the logo). When you think about it, this approach doesn’t really make sense since there could be one app incorporating the info for both festivals.

Anyway, the app(s) have that generic look & feel that nobody wants. Once again, there is no English language option (only German). Secondly, there is a push permission request on the first screen. Moving on, you can use Facebook integration for adding events to your favorites, but there is no profile page (a real login doesn’t exist, as such).

And another bad thing, which we’ve already seen, is an excessive use of webpages within the app where the line-up opens up in the web page designed for each artist individually. Excessive usage of webpages in an app is plain wrong. The content should always be added natively, which is way better for the whole user experience because the content can then be customized.

Rock am Ring mobile festival app

Sziget

Sziget is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. Dating from the early ‘90s, when it was a relatively low-profile student event, nowadays it has become one of the most prominent European rock festivals, with visitors from all across Western Europe and more than a thousand annual performances.

We are glad to admin that Sziget is, hands down, the best app on the test. Neat Spotify integration, correctly implemented scheduling system with filters and almost the same level of quality in its handling of the artists. Overall, whoever built this app did a great job. The only thing we could lay against this app is the design, which isn’t bad, but doesn’t doesn’t match the other special aspects of this app.

Sziget mobile festival app

Open’er

The Open’er festival is the music festival that takes place on the north coast of Poland. It is, in a nutshell, another generic app a very similar, if not the same, solution as used by some of the other festival apps on this list. Nevertheless, this is not a bad app at all it just doesn’t have anything to make it stand out. At best, it’s mediocre.

Open'er mobile festival app

Reading & Leeds

And last, but not least… well actually, these are unfortunately the last on our list and the least worthy of noticing. Reading and Leeds festivals are another pair of rock festivals that take place simultaneously, but this time in England. If you take into account their jazz heritage dating back to the mid-50s these two festivals are respectable rock events that, in their prime, hosted many rock legends like Pink Floyd, Guns N’ Roses, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Metallica, Nirvana, and Oasis. You name it… even Eminem himself was there.

Too bad the apps aren’t even noteworthy. Again, we have that big red flag in the form of permissions on the first screen, but this time four of them is that a record? Overall, the design is awful, and it’s just a shame that such excellent music festivals are represented by such poor mobile apps.

Reading Leeds mobile festival app

Conclusion

As you can see, overall the festival apps could be a whole lot better. Generic apps seem to dominate the niche, which is a shame because a lot of the people visiting such events appreciate good content, presented imaginatively. Festival apps should be easy to use, and users should be blown away by their design as they are with the music.

So ultimately, there is really only one question on our lips – can you make a great festival apps quickly? Well, actually you can, and people are doing it every day. With Shoutem, you can build a totally custom festival app today!

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http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/08/18/review-10-festival-apps-summer-2016/feed/ 0 Coachella 2016 festival app Glastonbury festival app Rock Werchter mobile festival app Roskilde mobile festival app Nova Rock mobile festival app Pinkpop mobile festival app Rock am Ring mobile festival app Sziget mobile festival app Open'er mobile festival app Reading Leeds mobile festival app
The PokéNet story: How to launch an app in less than a week http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/08/11/pokenet-story-launch-app-less-week/ http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/08/11/pokenet-story-launch-app-less-week/#respond Thu, 11 Aug 2016 14:45:46 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10318 Everyone knows that when there is a new next big thing out there, that the people who are able to move the fastest are the ones who are best able to take advantage of the new trend and make money …

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Everyone knows that when there is a new next big thing out there, that the people who are able to move the fastest are the ones who are best able to take advantage of the new trend and make money off it. And the next big thing in the App Store for the last few weeks has been Pokémon Go – a worldwide phenomenon that has people hunting Pokémon on their phones in parks, malls and colleges in the millions.

And, of course, a number of guides have sprung up in the App Store to help players do better in the game. One of the first was the PokéNet app, created with the Shoutem app builder.

Creating an app for fetching Pokémons

The Appency team, who made the app, expected that the normal features of the Shoutem app maker would have to be customized to design the app for the Pokémon players – but thankfully the modules in Shoutem are customizable enough that they can be adapted to a wide number of uses beyond their original intent.

Mockups of different screens in PokeNet app

Which features does the new Pokémon app have?

The new PokéNet app improves the experience of Pokémon Go players with features like a special PokéVision map that helps them to locate Pokémons quickly and shows super spots with the nests of rare Pokémons.

  • Social Wall – The PokéWall
    The main area of the app uses the social network features of Shoutem to build an interactive experience for players called the PokéWall – something that most guide apps do not have. Users can post pics of their Pokémon finds, ask other players questions, and get notifications from the administrators. If trading is added to the game, the social wall becomes a great place to find other players who have what you need.
  • People Module – Comparing Pokémon characteristics
    One of the most important aspects of the Pokémon Go game is understanding the differences between the various Pokémon that you can catch. Using the People Module, Appency built both a Pokedex (a guide with details of all the creatures in the game) and a “Battle Strength and Weakness” guide that shows users the best way to attack other users’ gyms in the game.
  • News Module – Tips, tricks and recent updates
    Two different sections use the news module in Shoutem – “Tips & Tricks” gives the Appency team editorial control in placing articles into the app for how to play better, and the “Pokémon News” section is populated by pulling an RSS feed from a Google News search about Pokémon.
  • Places – Nests with rare Pokémons
    In the first version, places were used to create a database of super spots – locations that have many PokéStops, such as Central Park or the National Mall. As the game progressed, it became clear that what was most important was finding the nests of rare Pokémon. Using an online database and user submissions, the PokéNet app created a network of over 500 rare Pokémon nest locations geolocated into a map so players know where to find that elusive Pikachu!
  • Websites – Unique features
    Some of the unique Pokémon Go features would have required custom programming. Features like server status updates and the PokéVision map (a map that tells you where all the Pokémon in your area are spawning and how long they will be there) were extremely demanding to build. Thankfully, a few enthusiastic Pokémon players developed these features. Through the Shoutem app maker, Appency was able to integrate these new features to provide added value to PokéNet users.

With the support of the Shoutem team, submission into the app stores was rushed through, and the app was published within a week of Pokémon Go’s initial launch. The app has received a lot of attention in both the App Store and GooglePlay. If you’re a Pokémon trainer yourself, you might want to take a look!

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Eleven mistakes you can avoid when making an app http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/08/09/eleven-mistakes-can-avoid-making-app/ http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/08/09/eleven-mistakes-can-avoid-making-app/#respond Tue, 09 Aug 2016 17:00:40 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10302 You’ve heard it over and over again: app stores are exploding with content these days, and the number of new apps being launched each day shows no sign of slowing. Instead of seeing this as a deterrent, though, you can …

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You’ve heard it over and over again: app stores are exploding with content these days, and the number of new apps being launched each day shows no sign of slowing. Instead of seeing this as a deterrent, though, you can take the “glass half full” approach and see it as a ton of case studies to learn from.

So, if you’re serious about turning your app idea into something that gets used, and loved, by others, then it’s worth thinking about some of the things that can go wrong. Hopefully you can then avoid them yourself!

This is a guest blog post from Steve Lamattina, Chief Editor at ToolTester Network/AppToolTester.

Branding mistakes

1. Complicated name

The name of your app, while not the first thing you need to figure out, is definitely an important issue. One of the problems that people make is creating a complicated name. Perhaps it has too many syllables, is difficult to pronounce, or simply doesn’t make sense.

image_complicated_name
Sorry, unfortunately, this name has already been taken.

2. Trademarked name (a.k.a. stolen identity)

You’ve just come up with an awesome name, published your app…and then suddenly you get sued! Now all that branding and PR have gone to waste because you’re going to have to change the name. Not good.

How to fix these:

To help think of a catchy name that might also be descriptive or functional, you can experiment with joining words or “WordSmashing.” A lot of the biggest apps out there do this to great effect: Facebook, Instagram, QuickPic, Citymapper, and many others. With the last two, at least, you can take a guess at what kind of apps these might be just from the two words they’ve stuck together. If this approach fails you, then just think of something short and snappy that hasn’t already been taken!

This brings us to the second point, please use the Trademark Electronic Search System (or TMView for the EU) when coming up with your name. Even though this is not considered the only place you need to look, you should start here for a quick reference.

Content mistakes

3. Too many features

Bigger is better right? Well, not always and, in the world of apps, it’s more useful to think along the lines of “less is more.” One mistake that app creators make is chucking in every type of feature just because it exists. Perhaps it’s due to the misguided idea that your app will then appeal to the widest audience. Bloated apps aren’t good for anyone, though.

4. Unnecessary content

Along the same lines as above, filling up your app with content just because you have it should not be one of your goals. If there’s too much “stuff” to navigate through, this makes it more of a chore than a pleasure for your users.

How to fix these:

First, you need to make sure you do the research and know your market. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a better grasp of what niche your app is trying to fill.

It’s worth keeping that word in mind: niche.

This word should conjure up images that oppose the idea of “Bigger is Better.” It’s worth focusing on a small subset of people and giving them exactly what they want without the filler.

image_animated_shazam

Shazam is a great example of an initially simple app with one focus (identifying a song) which now, after many years, has slowly added functions such as the above.

 

Another thing you could do is release a pared-down version of your app to begin with, just keeping the primary functions and content. This has three benefits: first, you are forced to think about what elements of your app are essential; second, you’re then able to give your full attention to developing these sections well; finally, you can get real feedback as to what extra elements people are looking for via comments. This doesn’t mean that you have to implement every user-suggested function, but you might see trends in what people are asking for.

Design mistakes

5. Not focusing on UX

This is a common problem with new app creators, often simply due to their lack of experience. UX (user experience) encompasses many areas, but it’s basically about creating an app that users can pick up and use intuitively, that is, without too much explanation. A good test: if it takes more than three swipes, or taps, for someone to get to what they’re looking for, then that’s an example of a bad UX.

One thing to note when discussing app makers in particular is that you’re designing for both iOS and Android systems concurrently. This can be tricky to get right. So it’s worth a bit of investigation into how each system works, particularly with the placement of the menus and use of the “backwards” buttons (which iOS doesn’t have). Keep the placement neutral but also intuitive.

6. Inconsistent design

It’s easy to get lost when designing the separate features within your app. Most app makers have an “overall” design section that helps keep things mostly consistent in terms of color palette, but it’s worth keeping this palette in mind when deciding on new buttons, menu items, or call-to-actions within the app.

This also feeds into UX, as the flow from section to section should also remain consistent to help people get the hang of your app quickly.

7. Bad logo/icon design

This one’s pretty inexcusable these days, yet it still happens way too often. Logos and icons are often the first things that potential users see, and if they are unclear or unattractive, then people will simply keep scrolling. Also, having bad icons is one of the top three reasons that Apple rejects apps from its store. Using words, pixelated images, or clashing colors are all no-no’s for your icon. Words are kept for the logo itself, as it usually consists of your app name and some connection to your icon imagery. See below for examples.

image_bad_icon_design

‘Vine’ icon & logo versus ‘Poker Stars’. Which would you choose?

How to fix these:

As with content, the best advice is to keep things simple and clean. Material design is popular at the moment, and it might be worth using these guidelines when designing your app. Also, Apple’s guidelines are very handy too, and a handy summary can be found here. In effect, a kid should be able to pick up your app and use it without issues.

Creating flow diagrams, even if just sketched, is a great way to visualize user flow and experience with your app before you start. It’s also good to have these to refer back to throughout development.

image_wireframe

Basic user flowchart for iOS application (source: Paul Moore)

 

To help keep a consistent and complementary color palette, it might be helpful to use one of the free tools online. Coolers is a nice option. It allows you to generate random palettes or input a color and generate palettes based off that.

If you have little or no design experience, you can learn the basics for free just using YouTube. Simply search for PhotoShop or Illustrator tutorials. If you have a little spare cash, then it may be worth investing in a paid course from somewhere like Lynda. If you have more spare cash, then it might even be worth investing in a UX professional from a site such as Upwork. And I think it’s always worth the investment to get a well-designed logo. You can use 99designs to do this on the cheap.

image_animated_soundcloud

Soundcloud apps have both good UX and consistent design.

 

And finally test, test, test! Ask friends, family, workmates, and anyone else you can to try out your app in its various stages. You can also use programs such as TestFlight for iOS beta testing to help get your app out there while it’s still in its preliminary stages.

We also have a lot more info on designing your app here.

Marketing mistakes

8. Last-minute marketing

It’s easy to forget about marketing when developing your app. You have so many other factors you’re constantly considering. But planning your marketing right from the get-go is very important. Making sure that the right media sources are aware of your app and launch dates can really help get the word out and boost launch figures.

9. Not considering ASO

A lot of people simply ignore this acronym…don’t be one of those people. ASO, or app store optimization, is all about optimizing different factors, such as your app title and description, to help increase your organic search volume. This basically means making your app easier to find among the millions of other apps out there, so it’s something you’re going to want to do, right? Once again, this is something you need to be thinking about right from the beginning, as it will affect all aspects of your app, such as what you decide to name it, how to market it, and even what it will look like.

10. Not understanding your audience/niche

There it is, that word again: niche. You can’t escape it. This goes hand in hand with basically all of the above because everything about your app needs to be informed by who your app is being made for. Apps will always fail if you don’t have a particular group in mind when creating your app, whether it be gender-based, age-group based, location-based, or interest-based.

11. Not responding to your audience

This comes post-launch and, perhaps you think we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves, but mistakes are not only made before you publish your app. A lot of app makers simply forget about the customer once they’ve launched or they ignore negative comments. You really need to make sure that if someone comments, particularly if they have an issue, you get back to them offering support. When people see responses to comments, it shows your users that you care about them and your app.

image_bad_review

Probably time to rethink your sync?

How to fix these:

As mentioned above, create a marketing plan as soon as you start planning your app. You can find simple outlines with an online search if you need ideas. But basically you want to include things such as important dates, marketing channels, advertising opportunities, and key contacts. It might not hurt to include a breakdown of your marketing budget, too, if you have one!

With every marketing plan, you also need to make sure you do some market research. Simple things, like having a particular person in mind, really will help with this step. You can then gather statistics and information regarding which social media channels are frequented most often by your target group, what color palettes are the most popular, and the best forms of advertising.

As for ASO, it’s really worth understanding the basics of how you can optimize your app. There are several simple things you can do, such as optimizing your name and description, but you can find more detailed information in our ASO beginners guide.

Preparation is the key

As with most things in life, preparation is key. This is also true when creating your app. After reading this article, you’re already on your way! Just being aware of mistakes that people often make will help you plan ahead and hopefully avoid them yourself.

I hope this article has given you some food for thought. It’s difficult to cover everything in one article (and you probably would have dozed off halfway through if I tried to), but you can easily find more in-depth information on each area…especially now that you know what you’re looking for.

There are a lot of apps out there, and the frustrating reality is that majority of them are terrible. I hope this piece encourages you to contribute something to the “user-friendly” end of the spectrum!

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News and Events module improvements http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/06/29/news-events-improvements/ http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/06/29/news-events-improvements/#respond Wed, 29 Jun 2016 15:15:25 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10289 Featured News and Events are the newest platform improvements available to all Shoutem users. How does featuring certain news and events improve your app?

Shoutem users probably know that the Places module already supports featuring selected places on listings. The …

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Featured News and Events are the newest platform improvements available to all Shoutem users. How does featuring certain news and events improve your app?

Shoutem users probably know that the Places module already supports featuring selected places on listings. The good news is that the same is now true for the News and Events modules.

By default, all items will be sorted and displayed in the app based on certain criteria once a user opens the app and selects a Places, News, or Events listing. For Places, the default criterion is distance, with places ordered from nearest to farthest from the user’s location. Sorting places by distance makes perfect sense from the user experience perspective.

If you’re searching for a good pizzeria or bike repair shop, you don’t want to see ones that are far away. Ideally, you could find some tasty pizza and chardonnay around the corner, and your bike could be repaired close to your office so you can pick it up after work, right?

For some time now, app owners could override this default sorting by “featuring” selected items in Places module on the list. If the app owner marks places as featured, those places will be displayed at the top of the list of places regardless of how far they are from the user. In that way, app owners can highlight or promote specific places.

Beginning this week, highlighting selected News and Events items is also supported.

Below you will find two examples of how Shoutem app owners are using featured items for promotion and monetization.

Shoutem_app builder_featured

– Pinpoint special news and events

Let’s say a restaurant owner is expanding her business by opening a new location in three months. To reach new customers, she is organizing an opening party. However, since three months is a long time, the news item announcing the new place and the event invitation might sink to the bottom of the lists.

To keep users from missing information that is crucial for the smooth launch of your new business, the owner can pin the news item to the top so it will stay visible for the next three months.

With the featuring functionality, you can pinpoint and highlight Events, News, and Places in your app and override the default sorting. By highlighting one or few items, you can make sure the most important items stay at the top of the list so they will grab your customers’ attention and so they won’t go unnoticed.

How featured events are displayed in the app

– Monetize your app

Another great way to use this new feature helps you monetize your app.

If you own an app of your town, businesses like restaurants or stores can sponsor selected content blocks in your app. You can offer deals to businesses such as restaurants, spas, or barbers so they can promote their news stories or special events.

Let’s go back to our example of the new restaurant opening. If the restaurant doesn’t have its own app, the owner can share news about the new place and the grand opening party in the town’s app. In exchange for a promotion fee, you could pin the promotion details to the top of the list of local news for a specific period. The same offer could include pinning the invitation to the opening party to the top of the Events section.

Thanks to smartphones, humans’ attention spans have fallen to eight seconds, which means we now have shorter attention spans than goldfish. Since you have only eight seconds to show content to users, make sure you provide the most important information in the right way with these two tactics.

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New Features for Shoutem Apps http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/06/16/new-features-shoutem-apps/ http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/06/16/new-features-shoutem-apps/#respond Thu, 16 Jun 2016 16:01:30 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10274 We’ve been working hard on making platform improvements in the last couple of months. The time has come to introduce new, robust, powerful features to all of our users for free.

Empower your apps with scheduled and segmented push notifications,

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We’ve been working hard on making platform improvements in the last couple of months. The time has come to introduce new, robust, powerful features to all of our users for free.

Empower your apps with scheduled and segmented push notifications, a CSS editor, a client settings Page, Home screen Carousel, and Composite pages.

Scheduled Push Notifications

Scheduled push notifications are the first upgrade to our current push notification module. These push notifications allow app owners to schedule push messages, making time management easier and providing more strategic and planning options. App owners can schedule push messages to be sent to users on a specific date and time. You can schedule messages on a weekly or monthly basis, so there’s no more need to go inside the app builder on a daily basis.

Once they’re scheduled, you will see the status of push messages in the queue; if you need to change the date or time at which the messages will be sent, simply click on the push message and apply the changes. You can find a tutorial on how to use Scheduled push notifications in our support center at this link.

Segmented Push Notifications

The second upgrade to our push notifications are Segmented push notifications. As the name implies, app owners can now send push messages to specific segments of app users. With segmented push notifications, you don’t have to broadcast push messages to all your app users. Segmenting app users allows you to target users better, which leads to better conversion rates and sales.

App users can choose which segment (group) they want to opt into and receive push notifications based on their preferences. Segmented push notifications also bring more recognizability since you can add icons to different groups; these icons will appear as part of a push message once the user receives it. Adding icons is helpful for users, especially if they are subscribed to many groups, since they can instantly recognize to which group a push message belongs.

You can find a tutorial on how to use Segmented push notification in our support center at this link.

CSS Editor

CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheets, is a style sheet language used to describe the presentation of a document written in a markup language. Shoutem apps have always supported some custom HTML and CSS, but with the dedicated CSS editor, app owners now have many more design customization options available.

The CSS editor allows app owners to apply custom styling to all markup elements in the app, such as buttons, images, and loading icons; owners can also change the positions of or hide elements. The possibilities are almost endless. At this time, we do not have a list of all the classes/methods used in our default app design, but the documentation will be released in the near future. Until the documentation is ready, here’s how you can find specific CSS classes/elements.

Here are some examples of app elements our team created using the CSS editor.

Example 1. Custom slide in menu setup

– Partial slide in menu screen coverage with transparent background

– Unique static menu element at the bottom

– Different item styling, starting with specific elements in the menu

Example 2. Custom news list feed

– Dynamic leading image sizes

– Custom article arrangement

– Custom bordering and scrolling mechanisms

We hope this article gives you an idea of the possibilities and helps you build your own unique app. If you don’t feel like messing around with the CSS on your own, get in touch with us and our design team will work their magic to give your app a unique look and feel.

Client settings page

The Client settings page is a unique app improvement because it combines some of the app elements used in other features and brings a few new functionalities.

In the client settings page, you will find the following elements:

– Push notification groups

Push notification groups allow you to create lists of different groups to which users can subscribe. Let’s say you run an e-commerce website with different product categories. Under push notification groups, you can create following groups: Books, Consumer Electronics, Vinyl, Comics, and Collectibles. Once the different groups are created, users can opt into one or more groups based on their interests.

More importantly, push notifications groups allow you to target your app users. If you’re running a special promo for books, you can send that special promotion only to the users who subscribed to the books group. You don’t need to send the promo to all users and risk being labeled as spammy. With highly targeted push notifications, you can convert more users and make more profit.

Note: this one feature requires segmented push notifications to be enabled for the same app.

– Separator

Now, the separator can also be found under the client settings page, but its functionality hasn’t changed. You can use the separator to split your app’s content and structure the design of the app.

– Review this app

The “review this app” feature allows you to ask app users to review your app. Once a user taps the feature, the app will redirect the user to the App Store or Google Play Store depending on which device he or she is using. This feature provides you instant feedback on your app so you can improve the app’s UX and UI based on the reviews.

– Share application

Once your app hits the app stores, you want to reach as many users as possible so they will download your app. Now, you can add the “share application” feature and ask your users to spread the word about your app via Facebook, Twitter, email, or SMS.

– Tweet support

Looking for the fastest way for customer to reach you and engage on social networks? Add ”Tweet support” feature and enter your Twitter username (handle). When users tap on this feature, they can contact you directly on Twitter.

– Email support

Similar to the Twitter support feature, tapping on this feature will open up the user’s default email client so they can send you an email from his or her phone.

– Text page

The “Text page” feature creates a simple, static text page on which you can enter any kind of text information you want to add to your app, such as additional info about your business. this feature also allows you to include some custom HTML and CSS code to style the text page content.

Composite pages

Composite pages allow you to create a more complex, deeper app structure in your app using new design options. Until now, app owners could add and group content inside a folder. However, the folders were limited by the structure, meaning that it could only be expanded and you could add as many items as you wanted to it.

From now on, you can use composite pages instead of a folder to “nest” content in the app. Nesting allows app owners to nest new pages under a “parent” page, providing a deeper content structure and better categorization of items.

On the content side, composite pages provide the option to connect one of your news feeds/news collections to a page. Instead of manually adding content to the page, you can mix things up and add a related news feed at the bottom of the composite page.

Composite pages also provide new design options, although they are very similar to folders; folders and composite pages both include description boxes, image galleries, and item icons. The main design differences are that the items can be additional pages and you have the option to define how the icons are displayed. They can be presented in a grid with a custom number of columns or as a regular list.

Read our support article on how to set up Composite pages.

Homescreen Image Carousel

The home screen image carousel is another design improvement available to all users starting today. The carousel of images allows you to rotate up to four photos on the home screen of your app.

You have the option to choose from two behaviors for the home screen image carousel:

  • Auto-slide images
  • Manually

If the carousel is set to “auto-slide images,” the images will automatically rotate on your home screen. You can also set the frequency of the auto slider and choose how long the images will be displayed before another one displays.

The home screen carousel can also be used to monetize your app and for advertising purposes. For each image you add to the carousel, you can set a URL that will open once the user taps on the image.

Read our support article on how to set up Homescreen Image Carousel.

All these features are available to all our users as of today, July 16. Even better, this is just the first set of improvements we plan to release in the coming weeks. We encourage you to keep sending us feedback on these new features. Together, we can improve the best app builder in the world and make it even better!

Go to your app and try new features now!

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Instagram Improvements http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/06/15/instagram-improvements/ http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/06/15/instagram-improvements/#respond Wed, 15 Jun 2016 19:17:32 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10265 Instagram has introduced a few major changes to its app: a new app icon along with a new app design. These design changes were followed up by changes in the backend to how images can be fetched. Consequently, Shoutem’s integration

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Instagram has introduced a few major changes to its app: a new app icon along with a new app design. These design changes were followed up by changes in the backend to how images can be fetched. Consequently, Shoutem’s integration has been improved, resulting in unlimited photos that can be displayed in the stream from now on.

Instagram photos had been imported into Shoutem apps via Iconosquare, but due to the changes in the Instagram API for third-party apps, Iconosquare can no longer access the Instagram feed and display.

The root cause of the issue is a change the way images can be fetched, so Iconosquare decided to ditch the free plan and become a paying service. Instead of using Iconosquare as a paid service, which would require additional payment on the user side, we decided to make the most out of the change in API, that is, we implemented a new way to fetch and display Instagram photos.

With the new way of fetching and displaying the feed, your app will now be able to display all photos uploaded on your Instagram account. Until now, our Instagram feed was limited to displaying only the last 30 photos from the added Instagram account.

This is small, but valuable improvement in the Shoutem platform; stayed tuned for more new updates and improvements. Check our new Youtube video and see how integration works after we implemented the improvement.

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Hall of Fame: Gig Pic http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/05/09/hall-of-fame-gig-pic/ http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/05/09/hall-of-fame-gig-pic/#respond Mon, 09 May 2016 20:20:17 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10247 Gig Pic is the newest member in our Hall of Fame section. If you’re planning to visit any summer music festival, Gig Pic is the right app to download on your phone!

What is Gig Pic app and who is

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Gig Pic is the newest member in our Hall of Fame section. If you’re planning to visit any summer music festival, Gig Pic is the right app to download on your phone!

What is Gig Pic app and who is it for?

Gig Pic is a photo sharing app for music events, gigs and festivals.

When did you realize that you need a mobile application?

Well the app for us is our product. Lots of people have asked about allowing uploads on our website and multiple photo uploads, but we wanted to make sure every picture is unique and special. We don’t want people to go on the app and see that a user has uploaded 65 photos to a gallery, we want to see the best pictures and when, where they were taken, who’s in it and why it’s special to them!

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What kind of impact did the application have on the community?

So far Gig Pic has had a great impact and is continuing to grow every day. We initially started speaking to artists, bands and DJ’s about their thoughts on the app and we had nothing but positive comments and thoughts. It was featured in the ‘Best New Apps’ and ‘Best Photo Apps’ on iTunes in 2015 which was really exciting and every time you go on the app you can see more uploads from all over the world.

Did the app got noticed by the artists or music festivals?

Initially, we spent a lot of our time showcasing the app to artists, music festivals and venues to try and show what the app can do for them. It was hard at first, but once a few artists were using the app it just started to grow and we now have some really well-established acts including the likes of UK chart-toppers BLONDE. We now work alongside a lot of music festivals to promote their events across our network and app.

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What channels do you use to promote your app and what type of promotion do you find most successful?

For us our most successful way of promoting the app is out and about at events, meeting artists and festival goers and showing them what the app is really about.

The other way we promote the app is via social media – mainly Twitter as its the easiest way to interact with people.

How easy was to make the app using Shoutem?

Really easy and simple for people that have little or no experience developing apps. Great support team as well who are always happy to help.

Shoutem_gig pic

What advice would you give to people who are planning to make an app?

My advice would be to understand exactly who it is you’re hoping to target and what would make your app different. I’d also encourage people to keep apps free initially (depending on the product) as it allows you to develop a strong user base who might be put off by an app with a small fee. If you’re not necessarily providing a paid service you could keep your app free and also make your app user-friendly.

If you don’t like the look yourself the chances are your users won’t either. Keep it simple and clean! 🙂

P.S. There’s no reason why you can’t succeed like Gig Pic did. Click on the button below and make your own custom app!

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When is the right time to rethink your app’s UX? http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/04/26/right-time-rethink-apps-ux/ http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/04/26/right-time-rethink-apps-ux/#respond Tue, 26 Apr 2016 17:06:55 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10232 Coming up with a great UX for your mobile app is a long and, let’s be honest – hard process. So if you get it right and have a good UX, why would you want to change it at all? …

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Coming up with a great UX for your mobile app is a long and, let’s be honest – hard process. So if you get it right and have a good UX, why would you want to change it at all? As mobile apps go through their life cycle, they inevitably evolve and change, so their UX also has to change and evolve with them.

Here are the top reasons why you’ll have to rethink and change your mobile app’s UX, so it doesn’t start to feel old.

New features

Obviously, adding new features (or removing some existing ones) is the reason to rethink the app’s UX. Minor changes and updates usually don’t have a great impact, but major updates may require a complete UX overhaul.

System changes

Sometimes the change is out of your control – for example, the changes in a mobile operating system can force you to adjust the app’s UX. Looking not so far back, the iOS 8 update sparked the need for the UX changes in apps and it is still considered one of the major iOS updates.

Even just the fact that the app will be adapted to another OS could be reason enough to rethink the user experience.

Just how much a system change can impact the app UX can be seen in the evolution of Windows mobile apps that went through a steady and continuous change, adapting to the system and its features.

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User feedback

A successful UX is a result of thorough testing and adjusting even the smallest of details. Furthermore, finding out what exactly to improve and adjust is fast and easy – just turn to your users and get their feedback!

The insights you derive from the user feedback are valuable as they identify not only when to change something, but also what exactly to change in the UX. Just make sure to make it easy for users to give you their feedback – after all, it is also a part of a good UX.

You should also make sure to check the app reviews in app stores, as they may also contain valuable user feedback that could help you.

User testing

There is always a chance that your current UX is not a product of a systematic testing. Maybe you have skipped a few steps, needed to rush the development or just didn’t have the resources to do the proper user testing. Whatever the reason, any later user test that you do will surely result in an impulse to make changes to the UX.

Whether you do it while developing the app or later on, the user testing will always provide the most accurate input on what to change in the app’s UX, so make sure not to skip it.

There is no right or wrong time to rethink your app’s UX, as you should always strive to make it optimal and the best it can be for your users, but there are certainly situations in the app’s lifecycle when you simply cannot and should not ignore the need to change it because if you don’t – you may end up with a sub-par UX that will turn users away from the app.

P.S. Want to learn more about how to improve your app’s UX? Click on the button below and read our first Medium post and why improving your mobile UX lies in hands of different generations!

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Take your UX testing to the hallways http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/04/20/take-ux-testing-hallways/ http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/04/20/take-ux-testing-hallways/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 15:42:16 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10221 One of the first steps you can take in UX testing is – into the hallway!
Hallway testing is a quick way to gather general feedback about your app’s UX from random passersby in the hallway and identify any potential …

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One of the first steps you can take in UX testing is – into the hallway!
Hallway testing is a quick way to gather general feedback about your app’s UX from random passersby in the hallway and identify any potential major issues your UX is facing, but you may not be aware of when creating your mobile app.

Plan your tests

As easy as it sounds, hallway testing should be structured and planned, just like the whole UX testing process. It should also be done as soon as possible, to identify major issues and avoid them creeping into the further development process.

Just like in focus group testing, hallway tests should be done on a maximum of 5 people. Only 5 users will identify approximately 85% of all major issues according to Jakob Nielsen’s report. To optimize the process further, try to be somewhat selective in picking the respondents and have them represent your users that would actually use the mobile app.

Why You Only Need to Test with 5 Users

Location, location, location!

Funny as it may sound, the next important thing to consider is choosing the right hallway. Ideally, the hallway should be quite busy so to have a choice of more respondents. Also, target hallways in different departments or where other teams pass through to assure as much objectivity as you can.

Generally, team members like project designers and engineers close to the project should be consciously avoided in hallway tests, since they already know the product too well (typical users of your app won’t share their insight).

Hallway tests are a quick and easy way to gather qualitative feedback but they shouldn’t be improvised by any means. Plan ahead what questions you will ask the participants. Also, plan to go through all the questions and answers within about 5 minutes and never more than 10 minutes.

Structure the results into a report

The results of hallway testing should be applied to the development process, but before you can do this you should structure all the feedback into key conclusions and decisions that will be applied to the design process.

Hitting the hallways again after the changes are applied is a good idea to test the UX and progress and did the changes really address the major identified issues.

Testing fast, testing as soon as possible and testing easily are the benefits of hallway testing and more than reason enough for you to get up from your desk right now and walk around the office.

It is good both for you and your UX project.

P.S.: Aside from the above-mentioned Nielsen’s article, another great resource on the user testing is DigitalGov.

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Hall of Fame: offerON http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/04/04/hall-of-fame-offeron/ http://blog.shoutem.com/2016/04/04/hall-of-fame-offeron/#respond Mon, 04 Apr 2016 16:10:50 +0000 http://blog.shoutem.com/?p=10180 OfferON is the newest member of our Hall of Fame section – an app that wants to connect businesses in Poland with customers. Read their story and interview with Carlos Fernandes, offerOn founder.

What is offerON app and who is

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OfferON is the newest member of our Hall of Fame section – an app that wants to connect businesses in Poland with customers. Read their story and interview with Carlos Fernandes, offerOn founder.

What is offerON app and who is it for?

The app is a mobile platform for businesses in Poland to reach the masses. We allow companies to add their profiles, events, loyalty programs and coupons to the app. It’s also a place for the community to find local businesses and easily access their profile, events, latest news and any current offers they may have.

When did you realize that you need a mobile application?

I realized when I noticed how most people spend possibly 80% of their internet usage time on their smartphones.

What kind of impact did the application have on the community?

It’s still early days. We have not yet spent any money on marketing as we first needed to fill the app with interesting businesses. We will begin serious marketing/advertising from March 30, 2016 as the app is now full of very interesting offers for premium and non-premium clients. Otherwise, we are happy with the current level of downloads and users.

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What are main advantages of a mobile app as a communication channel?

The main advantage of our app is that our users can access offers on the spare of the moment. Looking for a place to have a coffee while you are out walking? Open the app and chooses from dozens of offers close to your location thanks to GPS Location.

What channels do you use to promote your app and what type of promotion do you find most successful?

We will promote heavily via Facebook. Twitter is not popular in Poland. Also national newspapers and local radio.

How easy was to make the app using Shoutem?

It has taken me a while to get to the stage it is at right now. In fact, we internally are still not 100% happy with the current look, but this is normal; we are always looking to improve the app. Shoutem is by far the best app builder we have found. It’s really easy to use and has many building options in terms of adding content. Would be nice if we could build a Windows version also but lets not be too picky. Shoutem is cool.

Shoutem_offerON_hall of fame3

What advice would you give to people who are planning to make an app?

Try to think out of the box and make your app look different. Shoutem allows you to play with the layouts so make use of it and come up with something original. Also, try to keep your graphics to a minimum to increase the loading speeds of the app.

P.S. Follow the same path as offerON did! Click on the button below and make your own custom app!

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