Author Archives: Jennifer Bennett

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Jobs. Steve Jobs

05.21.2014

Job Title: iOS Developer

LunarLincoln is a mobile app development shop located in the heart of Nashville. We spend most of our time developing beautifully designed apps for iOS, Android, and Mac and are always looking for new challenges. As a small company, with big-name clients, we’ve built a great reputation for quality work in a timely manner. Currently, work is booming and we are looking to add a motivated developer to our team. This entry-level position provides a great opportunity for developers looking to get into the mobile space. Develop your skill base, and help us maintain our growing trajectory as one of Nashville’s most sought after dev shops.

LunarLincoln was born not only from the desire to make quality apps and road test our own ideas but also from past experiences with corporate culture. We endeavor not to micromanage, and never to produce subpar solutions. We do, however, have time for the important things, like afternoon coffee, podcasting about the latest tech news, and occasional spring-time work/discussion on our roof deck. In addition to loving our day jobs, we value life outside of the office, which is why we only work 40 hour weeks and have great benefits like healthcare and biannual performance bonuses.

Here at LunarLincoln, we like developers who have a passion for learning and can challenge themselves by creatively working through problems. Since this is a small shop, you will become an integral part of our team. New hires must undergo a trial run. Get a feel for our development style, clients, and work/life balance. Candidates will be considered for full-time employment based on performance at the end of the trial period.

Required skills:
•BS CS/CE or equivalent experience
•1-5 years programming experience
•Proficiency in at least one procedural programming language
•Ability to work in independently and collaboratively while managing your time effectively
•Strong desire to acquire new skills and continuously refine your craft

Bonus skills:
•Previously published apps
•Proficient in iOS development
•Proficient in Objective-C and C and/or Java
•Experience with source code management including git
•Familiarity with UI/UX design
•Experience developing for alternative mobile platforms such as OS X or Android
•Familiarity with the External Accessory Framework & Core Bluetooth Framework
•Proficiency in at least one functional programming language

How to apply:
If you’re a great software developer, we’d love to meet you. Learn more about how we think and work at our website and blog. Submissions should be made to jobs@lunarlincoln.com.

Must be Tennessee residents or willing to relocate. Note that we do not offer H-1B sponsorship, and that all employees must be U.S. citizens.

The. End.

01.10.2014

You’ve had the idea. You’ve built the app. You’ve marketed the hell out of it. You’ve seen results. You’ve made updates and improvements.

But now what?

Are you done? Close the lid, package it up, never look at it again? You could. For CaseCollage, this app did achieve what we set out to do. We got widespread exposure. We got to practice the whole app launch process from start to finish on an app that wasn’t really “our baby”. We learned more about working processes and how to run more efficiently in the future.

CaseCollage definitely has more we could do. In fact we have pages of “future plans”: Refining UI to add a copy/paste element, implementing in-app printing and delivery with third-party companies, additional templates for other hole-designed cases or case company partnership. But all of this requires significant additional time commitment. And we all know time=money. Whether its time for client work or time for new ideas – the current rate of income for this app doesn’t work out for future CaseCollage development.

It is hard for many to decide when is your app finished. It isn’t always as simple as profits. There are a lot of questions to weigh: Is the app something you are passionate about? Is it something that could see leaps and bounds of improvement with some updates? Is there a dedicated user base and room for growth? What about your current user base? Do you want to leave them in the lurch for future OS updates? If we had deeper, more complex answers to some of these questions, maybe we would pause and devote some more hours to the project. But, as stated above, it did what we wanted, and we’re happy with the final results (and app).

We aren’t completely shuttering CaseCollage and never looking at it again. Rest assured, I will still be coddling my instagram audience with daily/weekly new designs, and providing basic customer service (for the millionth time, please print “fit to page” do not print a screen shot, no shit, that isn’t going to be sized right). It is just time to devote the majority of our brain power to new exciting endeavors.

Just like the Internet and their goldfish attention span, we have one as well.


If you’re late to this rodeo, you may not know, we built an app and wanted to share some of the details. You can find related articles below:
Part 1: The Ah-Ha Moment And What Comes After – The idea for the CaseCollage app

Part 2: Building an App in 2 Weeks – App development process, Wiley’s analytical take

Part 3: Roller Coaster App Store Review – App store submission hurdles

Part 4: Becoming “Internet-Famous” – Prepping for launch and app marketing 101

Part 5: Squashing the Bugs and App MaintenanceWhen things invariably go wrong

Part 6: A+ Work: Analytics and Ad TrackingWhat are all these chart thingys?

Part 7: The. End. – The lifecycle of an app

A+ Work: Analytics and Ad Tracking

01.09.2014

The app is up, the youtube video has 100k views, your favorite tech websites are singing your praises (sort of). But. Is the app actually being downloaded and used?

To quote “Uncle Kevin” from, our favorite past time, Sharktank. “How do I make moonnneeeeey?”. This is where the analytics come in. We signed up for both Flurry and App Annie.

Screen shot 2013-12-28 at 1.20.19 PMFlurry is very simple to integrate within the code of your app (less than an hour). We set it up to track specific metrics, like what sort of in-app purchases were bought, and what IAP’s were viewed (but not committed to). It also let us gather some other random factoids for example:

  • Users have added items to the canvas 539,000 times
  • 28.9% of our users are from Asia
  • 6,584 users have selected the “print collage” option

These facts let us know what part of the app users are having issues with, who and where our main userbase is, how much the app is being used beyond the first download, etc.

App Annie, on the other hand, scrapes public data and organizes it in a much better manner than your iTunes Connect portal (which is a huge piece of shit, but more on that later). It shows download rankings and revenue. We have it set to send an email once a day and its quite interesting what will cause the app to bump in downloads. We realized an article had been written in both Russia and France 2 months after launch date due to AppAnnie emails (see that little bump in the middle-right-ish?).

Screen shot 2013-12-28 at 12.50.51 PM
All of this is pretttty interesting, but only so much as you choose to sift through it and use it.

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

One last little experiment we decided to do after the intial launch was a Christmas push. After several years in an advertising job, I am deeply suspicious of “SEO” and Online Ad gurus promising you the moon. I believe you can achieve more worth while results by organically growing press and interest in specific groups instead of generally throwing money into the gaping maw of google adwords and hoping .01% sticks. That said, we knew our main audience was tweens. And guess what tweens would be getting for Christmas? You got it. 5cs. 5Cs FOR EVERYONE. For this instance we didn’t really have time to “organically” grow interest. We knew these kids would be bored the day after Christmas and dying to load their new phones up with dozens of new, shiny apps. How to let them know?

This is where Facebook comes in. Well, facebook and instagram. Facebook had “generously” offered me a $50 credit for FB ads (after I had purposefully tripped their “interest analytics” by clicking on tell me more, but not actually committing, muahahaha).  We thought we’d kick in $50 and just see where it wento-ONE-WEIRD-TRICK-facebook.Screen shot 2013-12-28 at 12.23.20 PM

 

While I was very tempted to see how many clicks I’d get with this first ad, we went in and designed a CaseCollage ad instead. We set our audience to be very limited and sat back to wait. After 3 days, we had garnered around 30,000 total impressions and a 4% CTR (1,406 clicks).

detail-0524542001331537745In addition we ventured into the motherland of tweens: Instagram. Our wonderful buddy over at Versagram pushed us to his instagram audience as well as us uploading some “holiday themed” collages to our 1500 followers. Hopefully that will get some “buzz” going at all the schools, we’ll see.

With these efforts combined we saw a 357% jump in downloads, and a 71% jump in revenue. I’m interested to see how long it takes before these numbers dwindle back down to our average 30 downloads/$3 a day.

Analytics and Advertising are definitely the less “exciting” parts of app promotion, but are vital if you wish to sustain and grow your userbase. Testing out campaigns and doing your research are both items you should be doing if you’re in it for the long haul.

More about the “long haul” next…

If you’re late to this rodeo, you may not know, we built an app and wanted to share some of the details. You can find related articles below:
Part 1: The Ah-Ha Moment And What Comes After – The idea for the CaseCollage app

Part 2: Building an App in 2 Weeks – App development process, Wiley’s analytical take

Part 3: Roller Coaster App Store Review – App store submission hurdles

Part 4: Becoming “Internet-Famous”- Prepping for launch and app marketing 101

Part 5: Squashing the Bugs and App MaintenanceWhen things invariably go wrong

Becoming “Internet-Famous”

12.28.2013

How to become internet-famous…or really how to have people talk about you, on the internet, IF you aren’t Miley Cyrus.

As you may already know, we built an app and wanted to share some of the details, as explained in previous blog posts:
The Ah-Ha Moment And What Comes After – The idea for the CaseCollage app, and Jennifer’s design experience

Building an App in 2 Weeks – App development process, Wiley’s analytical take

Roller Coaster App Store Review – App store submission hurdles (What is happening?!? Lets just have this baby already!)

Now comes article #4 in this series: Becoming “Internet-Famous” or “How to Make Friends and Influence People (Online)”

You cannot, cannot, cannot build an app and hope that people will randomly see it, download it, and shoot you to the top of the download charts. You have to let people know, and not just your friends and grandparents. If you’ve spent all your time building this beauteous, life-changing app you better be shouting it from the mountaintops. And the right mountaintops too. Here is how.

First thing to do. You should honestly have done this pretty early on. Decide who this app is for. Who is your target demographic? Is there more than one? Knowing your target audience should also be important when building your app – what will your future users want? What will make them happy? Jeremy Olson has a great (and very very detailed) explanation of how to do this, complete with making pretend users.

For CaseCollage we had two main audiences – the original idea source – tech/iphone fans who were horrified by the HON issue and the long-term users – people who love customizing their phones (tweens & designers).

Second thing. Find people who write to these audiences and find relevant press/similar items from these writers. Just like when mingling at awkward social mixers – find things you have in common. You love photos of your dog on your phone? I DO TOO. (In fact I just made this app that lets you put 35 photos of your cute puppy on your 5c case). See how I slid that app promotion in there? (It’s that easy).

Another tack? Find something the writer already wrote that can be compared with what you’re promoting – make sure your item is even better and more useful. Reciprocal linking IS THE BEST.  You hate the HON issue? Oh look, I do too and here is how we can fix it (by downloading my new app of course). And you can link back to all your old articles about cases and the 5c in this article too. Google Juice. You’re welcome.

We sat down one Saturday while the app was in review and made a Google doc with every story written about the 5c cases in the past month, and every twitter handle/email/email form/facebook page we could possibly post on that was related to these stories. We crafted a form email with quick and straight forward facts about the app and contact information. In addition to this, we pre-wrote custom intros for every single contact we had. Example:

TechCrunch – Author’s tweet –  https://twitter.com/panzer/status/37750512576783974
@panzer We hate the “hon’ too which is why we built this app – @CaseCollage. Make cool, custom inserts, cover up Apple’s mistakes. http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/10/do-i-like-the-iphone-5c-case-non/

Thing number three. After you’ve gathered all of these leads, you’re going to want to send them something they can use. If a writer comes upon any sort of hiccup at all, no contact name, bad screen shots, a confusing/unclear letter – they will hit the delete button. Tech writers receive hundreds of submissions a day – you need to feed it to them. More is more. Give them so many options, it will be a piece of cake. In our press kit – which was available as an attachment in all of the emails we sent, and at the top of our app website (also important) we included:

  • Another copy of the press release in .rtf format – no program required
  • The app icon in multiple sizes and formats – .jpg, .png, .eps
  • The app name/logo in multiple sizes and formats – .tif (transparent), .png
  • A bagillion screenshots – plain and in phone mock-ups – in high-res format

Some great resources I used on what to include in a press kit and how to write a concise & useful press release can be found here.

In total, I wrote 27 custom intros to pair with our form e-mail and press kit. It was quite a bit of work – about 4-6 hours worth. Then, once our app was approved. Wiley sat down and sent all of the items (again another 2-3 hours of work).

While this seems like a lot of work after you should be “done”. It is very much worth it – and gives you something to do while you’re going mad during the app review process. These items, press kit, research, and website/media kit make you seem like a professional developer and company with well thought out and worthwhile apps.  Within 3 days we had received the following press:

If you read a few of the articles you can see how direct snippets of the press release and screen shots were used, as well as the video we made (thanks to our awesome friend Chris Paz)

It worked!

This was great for a first week push. We’ll go into more detail about what to do after the initial shipping high in the next post.

 

The Ah-Ha Moment….and what comes after

09.30.2013

Two Wednesdays ago – Apple held their keynote.

The public got to hear about what developers had been privately talking about ever since WWDC. New iOS7, drastically new design, new phone colors, new cases, new everything. After all the news stories, podcasts, dinner conversations, and tweets – I will be glad if I never have to hear about iOS7 again. (side note: I do not worship at the foot of the giant golden apple like some members of LunarLincoln).

Something that I had been very vocal about, since seeing the beta iOS on Wiley’s phone weeks ago, was the lack of forethought put into the new OS.  The day-glo colors, the hyper thin fonts, the icon redesigns – some of it seemed…first draft/rookie. There were a lot of changes, and I’m not sure every single aspect had been vetted to a Job-sian standard. Now, the general public may not be as finely attuned as I am to these things and will never bat an eye at the changes, but one thing everyone DID notice was this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 10.33.27 AMSeriously? There are at least 5 quick fixes to this issue. – No circles, Fill in those circles, Move the circles, Move the regs, Don’t get into the case industry.

But, whats done is done. Aaaaand, why not benefit from other’s missteps?

Here comes the ah-ha moment….can’t someone just cover up the “hon”? What if the circles were frames…what if…we built an app to fix this.

IN A WEEK.

Obviously, we didn’t do it in a week. WE DID IT IN TWO. BAMMMMMMM.

I do not suggest ever building an app in two weeks if you value your free-time, sanity, household cleanliness, or personal relationships with business partners. That said, our app is currently in review and I feel pretty damn excited about it.

Things I learned when building an app in a condensed timeline:
- You don’t get to “sit” on your design. Don’t let it ruminate. Don’t edit it with the clear eyes of the next morning. Nope – slap that crap together at 11pm
- You have to edit on the fly a lot. How many times have I rebuilt the photoslider? Or resized/recolored icons – do not ask.
- To quote the Real World, you will “stop being polite and start being real” (And NO we do not need 10 tutorial screens (but I will make you one, if you just shut up uuuughhh))
- You will have to compromise on concept. Our platonic ideal is about 2 more updates down the road, but 1.0 isn’t half bad.
- There is a lot more design to an app than just UI. We need an icon, a facebook cover image, a twitter background, a website, a landing page, some mockups, a press kit. Oh hey, what about a video?
- You will lie to yourself again and again about what “almost done” really means.

We’re almost done you guys! Hopefully, the powers that be will look at our app, approve its excellence – even if it is poking at their failure – and everything can go public. Now we just have to wait and see.

Do your homework

08.19.2013

In the beginning stage of building an app and even in the later stages – its always important to “do your homework”. What is your homework exactly? Checking out the scene, the market, other peoples work.

Really “your homework” is actually asking to see a copy of your friend’s homework right before first period because you weren’t sure how to do yours, or maybe you were too lazy to do the initial parts or maybe they just had better answers. Or…maybe that analogy got off the tracks there.

homework

A little story to explain clearer. Wiley loves Kerbal. A. Lot. If Wiley could actually be in space like the Kerbal’s he would. But for now he has to settle for entire Sunday’s of stranding Kerbal’s in orbit around Mun INSTEAD OF FINISHING UP LUNCHTIMER *ahem*. Shipping dude, shipping.

A while back we got into a discussion about a simpler form of Kerbal. A physics game with planets and exploration and lots of nerdy easter eggs. We got excited. Really excited. We started planning our rocketship game. We drew pictures and argued about rewards systems. We named our levels/planets – Tyson, Sagan, Hadfield.

Then we looked in the app store to see what was out there already – surely nothing as awesome as what we were planning. But…Angry Birds Space had launched the day before….we had just spent two hours subconciously recreating all of Angry Birds Space. That was some crappy homework discovery.

But it was important. Sometimes homework doesn’t kill your app, but makes it stronger – gives you a broader view. You’re building a to-do app? What about to-do’s for kids? for elderly people? to-do for a specific industry? for everyone? for super anal people (who are honestly the only ones who actually use to-do apps beyond the first few weeks)?

Sometimes you’ll discover that people have already built your app…but…they didn’t do it as well, or with this feature, or with nice colors, or they didn’t bother to build it for Android. (Android needs love too)!

Love the “description” for this one in the google play store:

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 10.00.04 PM

Now don’t straight up “copy your homework” like the above. But get to googling, dribbbling, smashing, and browsing.

Get inspired. Get informed.

Poly Poly Poly

08.15.2013

So, I have been seeing this style of design for awhile now and have really loved it. It was one of those things where I couldn’t find the right “google-magic” to really know what it was called. “Triangle+abstract+shattered+folded paper+art+design” was just not cutting it.

Luckily, one of my many random “sign up for this stupid newsletter to get this free download” e-blasts was actually useful this week. (And yes, I do read ALL of my e-mail, ALL of the time) It’s called….

LOW POLY. Now. What does low poly look like? Like these excellent examples:

low-poly-timothy-reynolds-1b
lowpolysphere
low-poly-JR-Schmidt-3

It seems that the programs you use to create these beauties lies more in the realm of video editing. But with the help of this refreshingly, wonderful tutorial (it actually includes all steps, clear, quick commentary, and nice/realistic examples), I am going to make myself a ton of these awesome pointy and colorful things. New art to come!

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

07.12.2013

Ninety percent of LunarLincoln’s app ideas come while walking to get coffee. These idea’s usually come about like this:  “I was so annoyed today when” and then usually end with “wouldn’t it be great if…” Working through problems. Making life easier. Or maybe not easier, but better, happier, certainly more convenient through apps is something we want to do, and CAN do here at LunarLincoln.

The list of app ideas is long, the market is fast, and let’s be real, some ideas are better, much better, than others. Luckily we have the tools, brains, and skills to make some of these into a reality. Our first foray into the world under our own banner is a little app called LunchTimer.

The app’s clothes are done, the guts are being built, and even now, I find myself wishing that it was done, merely to help my own scatter-brained self along. How, you ask?

I find myself running errands, lots of errands during lunch. Or grabbing food with friends, or sitting in interminably long business lunches, and in each of these situations, I don’t have the time, or forget, or it’s rude to continually check my phone to see if it’s time to head back to the office. Is lunchtime over yet?

Is it now?

Now?

Now?

How about now?

After looking at my phone 15 times in the last 20 minutes of lunch, only to see the time inching by and then later whizzing, LunchTimer was created.

The short and sweet: LunchTimer automatically knows when you leave work (with low-enegy gps tracking), and then begins the clock for the length of your lunchhour. It notifies you at a preset time (5 minutes/10 minutes) when its almost time to head back.

Voilà. No more being late getting back, no more sitting your phone on the table rudely, no more constant wrist checking. I hope you guys think this is a good of an idea as I do, and if not. Well, I’m still going to use the shit out of this app.

 

Font-tastic

07.05.2013

Similar to colors, font’s can make or break your design. It’s often the things that are the most subtle, that make the most impact.

Font selection, kerning, line height, style, these are all things you definitely should be thinking about. With the wonderful invention of FontFace, you no longer are limited to the standard web fonts.

Comic sans the whole site! Or don’t. Please don’t.

Or use this wonderful resource of “new” webfonts. Or convert one of your favorite fonts to a “webfont” with FontSquirrel (a font aggregator with great taste).

Now, I recognize I have a serious problem with fonts – similar to Pokemon, I feel, I’ve “gotta collect them all”. 52 body styles of Neutra? Bring it on! 100 different “handwriting fonts”? Why not? Fonts based purely on dingbats? Sh’yeah.

At the end of the day, though, less is more.
Build your app or website with no more than 3 fonts:

  • A display font (the fun/elaborate one for titles & big things)
  • A body font (basic serif or sans serif)
  • And maybe a third one for variation – pull quotes, sidebars, submenus, etc (another simple complementary serif/sans to pair with the body).

After selecting the “look” of your fonts, then you can get down the nitty-gritty – the “science of fonts” if you will. This article pretty much sums up the extremes you can go to, in creating the ideal font spacing, sizing, etc. Review it, think upon it, and go forth and make beautiful typography.