Archive for July, 2012

Infinite Possibilities

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Strange as it may seem, there is no exclusive recipe to creating a great app. There is no company that has a monopoly on new-tech expertise. To my mind it merely takes three things: a great developer, great content and great vision.

The world is beset with great content by great content creators. To date this content has focused on TV, print, websites. Now the focus has shifted to handheld devices – smartphones and tablets – and so must the content. But it’s not the end of civilisation, neither is it a paradigm shift that many would have you believe, that only they have control over. It’s an adjustment to be sure, but put a touchscreen in front of the uninitiated, and you’ll see just how small that adjustment really is.

There is no exclusive recipe.

And once you have content, acquiring a vision is easy; want to create an interactive touchscreen experience that draws people in and keeps people talking about you and your product throughout the subsequent awards ceremony? See? Easy.

But you have no digital experience? No idea of how to mould your content into a product that impresses? No understanding of the current technology or what it’s capable of? This is where the third and final element, the developer, comes in.

And by “developer” we’re talking about people that actually eat sleep and breath the technology that they work with day in day out. Good developers know their market and their craft intimately. They know how to work with content providers to create great apps, the best ones have been doing it for years. They work hard to understand the needs of their clients, they hold the keys to interactive nirvana, and they know how to get the job done, with what technologies, for what audience, for the right budget.

Great developers are like great authors or designers. They’re professional, they work hard and compliment the team perfectly, and not only do they want to do a great job, but they want everyone to benefit from that great job. When it comes to learning and information cross-pollination, the opportunities for any company partnering with a developer, are huge, and far-reaching. Want to keep up to speed on new tech trends? Partner a developer. Want to know how to move from paper to iPad to Android, to include videos, websites, and social media in your game-plan, not just for this product, but across your organisation? Partner a developer. Want to create and learn and grow internally whilst keeping overheads low? Well, most developers simply don’t have many overheads, so it’s a no-brainer.

The world of technology may be complicated and unforgiving for some. For others, for developers, it’s just another day of infinite possibilities.

Developers need PR

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Us developers have a bit of a PR problem, and by “us developers” I don’t mean media agencies that hire in technical expertise on a per-project basis, that have marketing and sales teams dedicated to selling themselves and hunting down the next pay-check. I mean “us developers”, the guys that those other guys actually hire in, the ones that press the keys, think the deep thoughts and construct from nothing what people end up interacting with on their iScreens.

Traditional perception paints us as weird, socially-inept whizz-kids with bad hygiene, and to be sure I’ve met a fair few in my time. But, contrary to that popular belief (and to that of Hollywood – thanks Jurassic Park) the rest of us are just normal guys and gals, doing the same normal things that other normal people do. Visit friends and family, eat, sleep, drink, and for the most part, wash fairly regularly. The unfortunate thing is, much like my fellow developer colleagues, I don’t have a marketing budget to construct a campaign shouting about our normalcy, and I’m not sure anyone would listen even if I did.

We’re also, much like other creatives, kinda shy. We prefer to spend our time sat quietly focused on a screen, deep in thought, creating excellent apps, rather than going out schmoozing and playing golf. We also tend not to sing our own praises or throw such praises into other peoples’ faces, no matter how it would benefit us. We just tend not to be wired up in that “in-your-face” way.

BUT that doesn’t mean we don’t do excellent work, it also doesn’t mean we can’t work with clients, with designers, artists, authors, project managers in pursuit of that excellence. And it certainly doesn’t mean that if you find someone that doesn’t fit into the traditional developer “mould” that you are somehow compromising on technical excellence.

In fact, far from it. Some of the best developers I’ve ever worked with have been obscenely good at golf, been able to talk into the wee hours about non-Star Trek-related media, and can think of nothing better than working closely with a company and their designers to create products of inestimable quality for all concerned. I have even heard, from sources that prefer to remain anonymous, that some of us are even a pleasure to work with.

So when you look at your next digital project, try thinking about the potential that a partnership with a real-life bona-fide developer could bring. Think about the possibilities for both parties to learn and grow together, about the joys of collaborative overlap between your industry and theirs, and about the return on investment that a developer with very few overheads can bring to the party.

Who knows, it could be the most pleasant and mutually beneficial surprise you have this year.