Inspired by your questions

Happy Holidays

We would like to wish you a happy holiday season. Please take a well-deserved break from your computer. Go enjoy an eggnog, coffee, or tea with someone you care about. Tell them how much they mean to you. Reconnect with an old friend or someone who...

The shift from building products to platforms

The shift from building products to platforms

Photo by Alper Çuğun

People use the terms product and platform interchangeably and the latter has turned into the new trendy catchphrase by entrepreneurs. Investors such as Peter Thiel have voiced their skepticism about the platform concept and call it a buzzword.

When we talk about software, products and platforms refer to two different concepts. Recently there has been a shift from developing products to platforms for valid business reasons and before explaining why let’s define what products and platforms are:

What is a product?

A product is built to solve a specific problem or facilitate a specific process. It comes with a growing list of features. It is finished, refined, and finalized for sale. When people are about to buy a product, they compare quality, ease of use, and feature lists. Products are a lot easier to sell, because people have an easier time relating to them and understand what they are about. Mobile and desktop apps are generally products.

Should a startup outsource product development?

Should a startup outsource their product development?

Photo by Epic Bets

Let’s say you have an idea; there are several ways to execute the product development:

1. Build it yourself

You are a developer with $30,000 in the bank, you can probably pay your bill for a year at $2500/month before tax. You can do 100 hours of coding per month and that will give you 1200 hours of time to build and launch a product. During one year you can perhaps build a product that either brings in some revenue or gains enough traction to inspire investors to give you more funds.

2. Build a design and development team

Hire developers and designers to perform 1200 hours of work for you at the rate of $40/hour, then you will need about $50,000 in the bank assuming that you have an existing source of income to pay your own bills.

3. Outsource it to a software development company

Hire a company to perform 1200 hours of work and build your product for you at the rate of minimum $150/hour, then you will need $180,000 in the bank, again assuming that you have an existing source of income for yourself.

The 3rd kind

So $30k, $50k, and $180K and that is only for the first stable release of a product. It doesn’t include the upcoming iterations and release cycles and as we have mentioned before, an app needs to go through many iterations until it becomes a product that everybody wants to use.

The cost of app update is an uncomfortable topic

The cost of app update is an uncomfortable topic

Photo by David Blackwell

When we buy an app from the app store, the updates are generally free. When we use a SAAS (software as a service) website, they are constantly updating and improving their features and usability and you will get them either for free or in exchange for a relatively low monthly subscription fee.

But when our custom app requires further updates and usability improvements, we ought to pay for it and it costs quite a bit. It costs hours or days of software development, testing, debugging, and deployment. This is often the elephant in the room for a client who hires a company to build their app. Nobody likes to pay for updates until their app stops working.

Why Mobile First and Web APIs matter so much from now on

Statistic provided by Statista The mobile traffic on the web will increase 8 times by 2020. The fact that more people are accessing information on the web using their mobile devices rather than desktop isn't exactly news. Right now %15 to %25 of the traffic that we...

A better approach for integrating web marketing and web apps

Building a hybrid but seamless experience of marketing and web apps

Image by Insomnia Cured Here

Marketing websites are built to communicate information about an organization or company with their target audience. They provide published pages describing the organization’s history, products, services, contact forms and such. End users browse and read the content of marketing websites. Some marketing websites offer downloadable files and media.

Web apps are software installed on the Internet and they are used for getting things done. User’s interaction with web apps go beyond just browsing and reading pages. They actually add, edit, and delete information. Some offer options to upload files and media. Some offer APIs for mobile apps and other software to connect to.

Once in a while we come across a client who wish to have it all in one. A marketing website that contains their web apps too. We understand, they want to deliver a seamless user experience to their end users. It is indeed possible to create that seamless user experience, except for some technical and logistic reasons the approach they are suggesting isn’t a smart choice. Here is why:

Here is why your mobile app isn’t as polished as mainstream apps

Double helix stairs
Photo by Alf Melin

A new enterprise client of ours had prior experience with having their apps developed and they asked:

Despite all the money that we’ve spent on designers and developers, why is it that our mobile app never turn out as polished and user friendly as apps like Dropbox, Pinterest, or Instagram?

The answer is:

Iterations, many many iterations

Startups who built Dropbox, Pinterest, and Instagram have gone through many iterations and release cycles. In every iteration, the usability has been improved based on real data and observing how the users interact with the app. Good usability cannot always be designed in advance. Also at the beginning of a project it is impossible to tell how many iterations and refinements it takes for an app to reach desirable results.

Clients expect their app turn out to be perfect by design after the first release. Problem is that good design and usability is achieved through editing and constant refinements. Your app isn’t as polished because it hasn’t go through enough development cycles yet. In fact the app has hardly ever been used by real users until the contract between you and your development shop is officially over.

So why aren’t iterations part of the process when you hire a development agency?

Nooku Jam in Belgium Covered Mobile Development Technologies

Visiting #Leuven #Belgium

Last week Rastin visited Europe to meet up with a group of developers and technologists in the city of Leuven in Belgium. The one week long unconference was called Nooku Jam which was organized by Timble. There were 23 attendees from 10 different countries and lots of code, projects, and ideas were shared. This year’s event had also some mobile development focus.

I was given the prize for the best talk "Connecting The Dots" at #NookuJam14 thank you #nooku tribe for your votes. #Anahita

We are proud to say that Rastin’s talk about the Anahita knowledge networking platform (Connecting the Dots: building more insightful knowledge apps) won the prize as the best talk by the community vote. This was the same talk which was delivered by Rastin at LaunchAcademy 2 week prior to the Nooku Jam.

DevFest is happening in vancouver

Finally a series of events that gets down to hacking, developing, and experimenting. DevFest Vancouver is a week-long workshop-series and hackathon about bleeding-edge technologies for experienced developers. To be more precise, there will be 7 workshops and 1 hackathon. The focus will be on cloud computing,...

Anahita 4.0 Knowledge Networking Platform is now available

We are so thrilled to write this announcement. Anahita 4.0 Birth release is finally ready. The new version of this knowledge networking platform comes with hashtags, mentions, improved search, and improved group actors. Also, we have taken out a lot more of the legacy Joomla code so...

Building Insightful Knowledge Apps

This week Rastin Mehr (Twitter, LinkedIn) gave a talk about building insightful knowledge apps and the open-source Anahita project at LaunchAcademy in Vancouver. Most of the audience members were from the LighthouseLabs coding school and Startup founders and employees who work from this workspace. In this talk, he...

Building insightful knowledge-sharing apps

What can ants, bees, and brains teach us about building better technologies for sharing knowledge? Methods of capturing and sharing knowledge have come a long way from using blogs, wikis, and content management systems. All these technologies do a fairly good job accumulating content and data,...