Dushyant Bansal     About     Archive

Software developer's guide to finish and release a side project - Part 1 (iOS app)

Most of us have more than a couple of side projects which never get released. Some of them are genuinely unfinished in the sense that they are still a long way to do what they were supposed to do. But a lot of them don’t get released due to petty issues like creating a landing page and other platform release requirements e.g. demo video, screenshot, icons etc.

I call these petty issues because they only look huge due to your inexperience with these and you only need to do bare minimum job. These issues are quite important for actual products but we are only treating these as blockers for your app release.

1. Choosing the application name

Look for a single catchy word. A quick and good way to start is by looking at the synonyms of your app’s purpose. For example, if you’ve built a speed reading app, you can settle on various synonyms of ‘speed’ - ‘Rush reader’, ‘rush’, ‘velocity’ etc. This step is often done in parallel with 2.1.

2. Landing page

2.1 Domain

Check availability for all of your probable app names (single word) with a ‘.com’ domain or other cool domains e.g. ‘.co’, ‘.to’ etc. I stick to ‘.com’ and ‘.co’. Try appending suffix like ‘app’ to your app name for the domain.

2.2 Hosting

If you already have a hosting account, you are all set. Otherwise, you can choose from lots of cheap solutions as you just need to host a bunch of static pages. It is a good idea to look for hosts which offer unlimited domain hosting. I use basic iPage plan which comes with unlimited domains hosting.

2.3 Website theme and design

Minimum requirements:

  • Clearly highlights your app’s purpose
  • Responsive design - should look nice on all devices

After exploring lots of options, I have decided to settle on blacktie.co for themes. This is the best place to get free bootstrap based beautiful themes which take care of all device sizes. There is no point wasting too much energy here. Just choose one theme and update the text and images for your needs.

You’ll need to update mobile images with your screenshots(see 4 and 5). You can also choose to show demo video in place of screenshots. Just host your video on youtube or vimeo and use that.

Bonus points for adding google analytics (won’t take more than 5 minutes).

3. App icons

This is probably the only time when you’ll need to use photoshop. You can use a trial version and you don’t need to be a pro. Read the app icon template guide. After opening the template in photoshop,

  1. Choose some solid background color for the icon. You can match this with your app color theme.
  2. Get any icon from flat icons website and add it to the template.

Photoshop template will generate all the icons of various sizes and requirements of app store.

4. Demo video [Optional]

Easiest way is to run your app in the simulator and use quicktime to record the video. More details http://www.loopinsight.com/2014/01/08/your-macs-built-in-screen-recorder/. It might take a couple of attempts to capture the desired flow.

The only editing you might need is to trim the captured video. You can use ‘trim’ option in quicktime to give a finishing touch. I personally try to keep demo video duration to < 30 seconds.

5. Screenshots

You also need screenshots for app store and landing page. Same copies will serve both. Fill your app with meaningful data and capture screenshots.

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