Navigation Hierarchy

Avirall Time Suite is an extensive app with 60,000+ working LOC in .cs files. I have not calculated the lines of code in XAML because a major portion of them are auto-generated. Still, there is about same number of lines in XAML files, as well. Avirall has 15 pages and 3 of them have about 5 types, so in all about 30 pages show up in Avirall. During documentation I created a high level diagram of navigation hierarchy in the app. I think it gives a bird’s eye view of how the app’s control flow, kind of circulatory system. This is how it looks like :

MTTHNavigation

Where Are The Buyers of Your App?

Fairly popular timekeeping app Avirall is on Windows Phone Store for about 5.5+ months now and has been downloaded 200,000+ times with 12,000+ reviews and 4.5+ stars average ratings. Download data of Avirall could be a good set of data to know about users’ buying behavior on Windows Phone store. With the help of latest information available in Excel export from Windows Phone Dev Center, I created following graph. The comparison between free, trial, and paid downloads can give a good deal of insight into users’ app download and buying behaviors in different countries. I gather following from the chart:

  • USA is clear leader in both free and paid downloads.
  • US buyers care less about trying before buying.
  • But, Germans care even less, and they are good buyers as well.
  • Indians want it free, also try it (more than even USA) but buy very little.
  • Chinese try more than they download for free, and buy more than Indians but less than English.
  • Your app’s buyers may be in USA, Germany, UK, China, Russia, Australia, France, and HK SAR.
  • [What do you gather?]

PaidTrialFree

Talk About Your App

As an app developer you are supposed to reach out to your prospective users as much as you can to let them know about your app. Social networks – FB, Twitter, Reddit, etc. are some great tools to spread the word. I also think creating a small video about your app and publishing it to YouTube is an effective way to let your users quickly get to know about your app. These are some fantastic posts to talk more about how to promote your apps:
Making A Love Connection? Build Relationships To Promote Your Apps
The Simplest Things People Don’t Do To Market Their Apps (But should)

In this post I will share some points about creating video.

The simplest and very effective way of creating a video is capture the physical phone screen while you are using it. That’s it. You can upload it as it is with your commentary in it. If you want to be fancier, there could be many other pricey options – e.g. hiring an advertising agency. Here I would talk about a no-cost (but a little extra work) option for creating attractive videos showcasing your app. The two videos, listed below, are created with following tools and processes.

In this setup I chose not to go for a video on physical device screen because i wanted to keep focus on the functionality and information about the app, rather than telling about how to use the app. I used emulator instead. It’s easier with emulator and it also gives more control to capture the desired section on the screen.

Prepare Emulator

You could choose to use the default generic emulator image to show your app in. Following is the generic emulator skin which comes with the IDE:

WM7_Skin_Up

Or, to make your video more personalized/interesting, you could use a custom skin. You can customize skins at your heart content, for example, for one video I created this skin:

Nokia925_UP

More about the above skin here.

Once you have taken care of the device skin, have your app installed on the emulator. Don’t forget to prepare example data and load with the app, if your app is data heavy and you want to showcase the same for your users. Set up a nice background on your desktop (it could be your app’s or company’s branding). Background is required because in this case you would have the complete HD movie created along with the background. The least HD movie size is 720P, so apart from the device there would be a lot of background in the video.

Animations and 2D Graphics

Silverlight is an ultimate tool to create fantastic 2D animations. You need to come up with a story as to how you would want to present information to the audience. Think about dynamics of the information, their movements, exit, and entry. Plan 5-10 slides. Create animations and transitions in Silverlight desktop application. If your animations and graphics are showing on the same screen with the video, first capture the video and using VideoBrush add the video in the Silverlight application. Fine tune the timing of the video while test running the app. You can see in the videos below, one of the video is a completely Silverlight video captured on screen and other is a mix of Silverlight and pre-captured video. You can have your titles, credits, and subtitles in the app itself with your custom animations.

Raw Video Footage

I captured screen with Expression Encoder 4 (I hear that the studio has been discontinued, but there are other tools available to download with which you can effectively capture screen). Set the capture size to minimum 1280X720 to play well in HD. Run the app on emulator, or run your desktop Silverlight application and capture the video.

Voice Over

You might want to include commentary in your video. It might be your own voice or you can choose to use text to audio tools. In both the cased you will need a script to read. Prepare the script  by running and re-running the video and match your speed with the video speed. The best free tool to prepare audio is Audacity. You can add commentary, music, effects in a single with multiple tracks. You can adjust the speed of your audio and match it with your video output.

Fuse Video And Audio

Now remains the simple task of bringing Video and Audio together. In this step you would make least changes to video or audio so a simple video editing tool like Movie Maker is enough. Export the video in MP4 format with the source dimension locked.

Examples

Should I Care Supporting WP 7.X?

My app Avirall is available on Windows Phone Store for about five and a half months now. With the help of latest information available in Excel export from Windows Phone Dev Center, I created following graph. May be this information is helpful for you to decide if you should support WP 7.X.

AvirallOSVersion

Should I Localize My App?

My app Avirall is available on Windows Phone Store for about five and a half months now. With the help of latest information available in Excel export from Windows Phone Dev Center, I created following graph. May be this information is helpful for you to decide if localization is a good idea or not.

AvirallLanguages

Windows Phone App Makeover By Design Guru Arturo Toledo

My Twitter.Connect had this surprise mention this morning:

Tweet

Chief Architect of www.Toledo2.com and ex Microsoft UX Guru Arturo Toledo has graciously accepted my request to help make-over my app Avirall. DVLUP and WPCentral have helped me forward my case to Mr Toledo. Thank you so much to all of you! I am looking forward to take Avirall to level^2 with Mr. Toledo’s consultancy.

Before my app was accepted for this design session, I had a chance to attend a fantastic web session by Toledo about how to make Windows Phone apps better UX-wise in general and design-wise in particular. The talk was so informational and encouraging that I felt a need to re-visit Avirall design wise. With inputs from the session and with my limited understanding of subject at hand, I came up with some functionality to improve UX and also some aesthetical changes to make Avirall’s home hub a bit richer. The said updates are in development and getting ready for future versions of Avirall.

Before:

PilcrowIcons

After Open Web Session:

Hub3

Further After Avirall Specific Design Consultancy:

CoingSoon

I think Avirall is going to get a tremendous makeover with inputs from Arturo Toledo. Why do I think so? Because, I believe, for one, if one is so passionate about design it’s going to shine through his inputs for Avirall and for two, if an open web session can have such an impact on me, a one-to-one app specific session can do miracles. Hope I can keep up with his contribution and execute them at the level of his expectation. Here are some of Arturo’s thoughts about design which are sharp and brilliant:

Toledo_1

Toledo_2

Toledo_3

Toledo_4

Toldeo6

Your app can also get a makeover from Arturo Toledo. How? Know more here.

You might also be interested in my earlier posts related to Avirall’s design –  My Fonts, Icons in Accent Color, and Quick Stopwatch Design Iteration.