Clutch ranks Wave Digital in Top 5 App Developers in Melbourne

Clutch ranks Wave Digital in Top 5 App Developers in Melbourne

We were thrilled to be ranked in the top 5 app developers based in Melbourne in Clutch's 2018 Annual Industry Report. Clutch is a well-respected B2B research, ratings and reviews platform located in Washington, DC. They provide in-depth client reviews, data-driven content and vetted market leaders.

How did we make it onto the top app developer list?

Clutch created their top app developer list by looking at a range of factors. These included services offered, client feedback, work quality, and market presence. As newbies to Clutch, we were very happy to make it into their top 10 app developers – a testament to the quality of our app design and development services.

How do we compare?

We are the most experienced of the app developers listed. Wave Digital was founded in 2000. We were leaders then in mobile app development and cloud infrastructure, and continue to be at the forefront, reflected by our Clutch listing. Interestingly, we are also one of the few top 15 companies to undertake all of their design and development locally in Melbourne, Australia.

See here for Wave Digital's Clutch profile, along with the Melbourne top app developers report.

Creating Augmented Reality iPhone app experiences – getting used to Apple’s ARKit

Creating Augmented Reality iPhone app experiences – getting used to Apple’s ARKit

Recently as part of our internal innovation program which we call 'WaveLabs', the team explored Apple's Augment Reality Framework, called 'ARKit'. We reviewed the technology as well as tackling the challenges of designing Augmented Reality experiences for web and mobile apps. 

Augmented Reality is a combination of real-world and computer-generated elements that can be used to bring a real-time interactive app experience to users. A view of the real world is enhanced or augmented with digital elements. At Wave, we can incorporate Augmented Reality into your app.

ARKit is a software toolkit released by Apple for iOS devices. This allows developers to design Augmented Reality experiences in iPhone apps, without the use of additional hardware.

 

ARKit Features

World Tracking

This is the key feature that Augmented Reality provides. Using camera images and inputs from the phones sensors ARKit will track the environment you are in. This allows an ARKit enabled app to accurately track the users position in a room, including the direction that you are facing, seen here with the yellow dots.

World Tracking

Scene Understanding

As well as World Tracking ARKit also provides functionality to detect physical features in the world it sees. This is key to providing more advanced Augmented Reality experiences where the user can interact with the physical world via the app.

One of the key Scene Understanding features provided by ARKit is “horizontal plane detection”. This is a fancy way of saying ARKit can detect flat horizontal surfaces, such as a table-top or the floor. This allows us to place virtual objects in the world that appear to sit on real surfaces that appear in the world.

 

Scene Understanding

Rendering

The final part of ARKit technology is support for rendering Augmented Reality scenes. This is provided by way of integrating with Apple’s existing 3D engine known as SceneKit. This allows developers to leverage existing technology & content to deliver Augmented Reality experiences.

 

Review of ARKit

In our experience, we found the World Tracking to be very accurate. We ran several experiments in our office and found it could track our environment without problem.

Our experiments consisted of placing markers in the Augmented Reality world, rotating, moving several meters and returning to the staring position. We observed that the markers were still in (or very close to) their original positions, indicating that ARKit was able to track our environment accurately.

We found the horizontal plane detection to be good, although it seems to only detect when you are within 1m of the target. The detected distance are ok too – checkout ARuler – an app based on ARKit that has some pretty cool measurement features.

There are of course limitations to ARKit. If the physical environment has low detail, for example a room of plain-white walls, ARKit won’t have any detail to lock on to and will result in degraded performance. Similarly, if the user violently moves or shakes the phone ARKit will get mixed up. We found best results when the user treated the device like a camera view finder to look around the Augmented Reality world.

All of this AR technology demands a fair amount of processing power and I expect it would drain your battery pretty quick.

From a developer point of view, we found the ARKit API’s to be easy to use and understand. It helps to have background in computer graphics as well as other iOS app frameworks.

 

Aligning to the real world

A key point to understand about Augmented Reality and ARKit is that tracking is relative; positions are measured in meters from the point where the user started the Augmented Reality app. Out-of-box ARKit does not align these positions to a common frame of reference e.g. GPS coordinates.

There are many Augmented Reality applications that would benefit from this type of alignment. This allows pre-populated content to be loaded in the correct position without user input. This can be achieved by combining ARKit with location tracking technologies.

Examples of location based technologies that could be integrated with ARKit to produce an expanded Augmented Reality experience:

  • GPS tracking – This can give you location to +/-10m in clear outdoor environment.
  • Phone’s built in compass – ARKit does have the ability to use this, however it’s accuracy is poor indoors.
  • Bluetooth beacons – also suitable for indoor environments. Beacons can operate in a ‘Ranging Mode’ to give the users location to 1-4m.
  • Aligning to a fixed point for reference – eg QR code. This is popular in other Augmented Reality solutions and is suited to indoor environments. This is the most accurate method however this requires the environment to be pre-calibrated and requires action by the user to perform the calibration.

The main issue is that most location tracking is far less accurate and consistent than ARKit’s World Tracking. This means that although we can roughly align to the real-world, it’s difficult to perfectly align pre-populated content without the user preforming a calibration or adjustment step.

One way this could be overcome is to gamify the calibration step so the user does not feel launching the Augmented Reality app is a chore. Otherwise with creative design and production small inaccuracy’s might not detract from the app experience. A few meters discrepancy in GPS coordinates might not matter if you are placing a label above a landmark several km away.

Seen here in our Wave Labs demo app, we are plotting landmarks that are visible from the office balcony. The app uses the compass to get fairly accurate alignment, however we did need to manually adjust the app by 1-2 degrees to have the labels accurately aligned to the buildings. In this case we aligned the crane, once this initial calibration is done all other labels a plotted correctly without the need to adjust.

 

Wave AR Demo

Designing Augmented Reality iPhone app experiences

There are many considerations to take into account when designing Augmented Reality experiences. We have found ARKit’s World Tracking to be accurate and consistent. This is great for designing games and interactive experiences like IKEA Place that allows the user to interactively place virtual furniture in a room.

There are also exciting opportunities to combine Augmented Reality with location based technologies. This is suited to wider scale experiences such as virtual tours or identification of landmarks. There are some challenges in achieving this type of integration however if the limitations are taken into account they can be worked around creatively.

Interested in Augmented Reality? Talk to us.

Eight steps: How to build an app

Eight steps: How to build an app

No two app developers build an app the same way, but there are a number of common steps that must be taken in order to turn an app from being nothing more than an idea into something that can be downloaded to a user’s mobile device.

 

Step one: It’s about the people!

“Our process always begins with thinking about the users first, not the technology,’’ says Guy Cooper, Wave Digital’s Managing Director. “At Wave we believe in ‘better lives’ technology. Technology that focuses on the needs and dreams of people and how we want to live our lives. Starting with people first, not technology for technology’s sake is how you successfully launch an app.”

As such, step one in Wave’s app development process is about your strategy - discovering who the end users are and how best they could derive value from a client’s proposed app idea.

“We research the customer base and actually talk to a client’s customers,’’ adds Guy. “We document insights and try to articulate the problem our client is trying to solve. Once we have a thorough understanding of the problem, we try to craft a solution around it.

“That’s when the real work starts!”

 

Step two: Think about your business goals

Once you know who you’re targeting and why, it is time to think about your business goals.

What does a successful app look like to you? What is your business trying to achieve by developing this app and what sort of return does your business need to get out of its investment in this app? Is it insights? Data? A new audience? More sales? More customers? This varies depending on the business and a business may have more than one goal.

 

Step three: Product goals, product concepts and roadmap

Now we understand the problem, the users and the business goals, we then pull together an idea for a product concept and a product roadmap. It is important to have a very clear idea of what the ‘product goals’ are, and how groups of product features might hang together to create a product that is useful to the end user.

It is critical in this stage to focus on product goals (not features). The product concept might come in visual or written form but it is not a product design (that comes later).

“The combination of steps one, two and three is incredibly powerful,’’ says Guy. “It provides a really clear path for the client and now that everyone is on the same page, you can start to bring all that information together visually.”

 

Step four: It’s time to get visual…

It is at this point – and only at this point – that Wave Digital starts talking about how a client thinks their app might look. However, stresses Guy, “it is crucial not to start at this point as so many people want to do.”

“Many inexperienced app developers jump right into an app’s design, but they need to take a few steps back because it is only once they understand the people who will be using the apps, the context of use and their client’s needs that you can truly start to even think about creating an innovative solution.”

The first visual designs are presented to the client at this stage.

Time to get Visual

Step five: The devil is in the detail

Towards the end of the design phase, a second layer of detail is added to the visual designs detailing how features are intended to work. This serves as the blueprint for all stakeholders during development and is crucial in ensuring all expectations are met for the remainder of the project.

 

Step six: bringing it to life

“This is where the sleeves are well and truly rolled up,’’ says Guy. “We’re bringing everything from the earlier discover and design stages together and coding it as an app.

“The early results of this phase are a basic, but working preliminary app. This is where actual users – and the client – gets to play with the first iteration of their app. We’ll iterate through several app releases over a 1-6 months process, however, this varies from app to app and client to client.” At Wave Digital, all our app development takes place at our Melbourne office by local developers.

 

Step seven: Testing, testing, testing…

“Testing is one of the scariest, but also most rewarding, phases of the app development process,’’ says Guy whose team have been know to testing new apps for weeks. “Because we’ve done so much research in the previous stages and, because we’ve included the client at every stage, it’s rare that we get any surprises here, so this phase is, primarily, about ensuring everything works as we all expect.”

 

Step eight: It's launch time!

Once the testing phase is over and we’ve ironed out any issues or bugs, the big day arrives: it’s time to launch the app.

Depending on the complexity of the app, this could be a simple as hitting the ‘publish’ button on the app store to hours/days of pre-launch development activities.

“At this stage, there’s nothing more we can do, but cross our fingers and hope that all our hard work has paid off and that the users love what we’ve created”.

Once an app is in a user’s hands, there are, often, even with the most dedicated research, a few surprises.

“We might think something’s effective, but once it’s in the hands of a user, we might discover that they don’t use certain features the way we anticipated.

"This is where the product goals and roadmap are important so that we can learn from the real users and continually iterate and improve the product for them. At the end of the day it is about launching apps that actually improve people's lives."

We’d love to help you build your app and make lives better. If you’re ready to talk, get in touch.

Meet Wave Digital: Georgia Price-Bell

Meet Wave Digital: Georgia Price-Bell

What do you do at Wave Digital?

My role is as a Digital Designer specialising in UI/UX, so it's a mixed role but, basically, it means I design many different things at Wave.

The first part, user interface design (UI) is what I spend the majority of my time doing. It involves creating the visual design for apps and websites.

Depending on the project, this can also include branding, illustration, interaction design, and motion design. User experience design (UX) is the other half which involves understanding the people who will be using the product, making sure it’s not just functional but that it’s intuitive, too.

UX creates a strong base for the UI, meaning every aspect of the experience I’m designing is centred around people.

 

What did you do before you joined Wave Digital?

Before I started working for Wave Digital, I was studying Communication Design at Monash University, and working as a freelance designer on a range of design outcomes in my spare time.

While at university, I shaped my degree so I could develop myself as a multidisciplinary designer, although I specialised in digital design through UX and motion design.

I also explored experience design through more traditional means such as publication design and illustration.

 

What do you like best about working at Wave Digital?

Everyone at Wave is extremely talented at what they do. They know how to work hard, but they also know how to enjoy themselves, the work, and each other.

One minute there’s a detailed conversation about how we can best utilise the latest technological advancements for our clients and the next moment we might be enjoying a team BBQ on the balcony.

Sometimes, our clients even join in!

 

What has been your favourite 'job' you've done while at Wave Digital?

So far my favourite project has been the iOS app we are creating for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. It's a project that brought out everyone on the team’s strongest skills, with detailed strategy workshops, an enormous focus on user experience design, testing new technologies, and contemporary visual design.

Personally, it's given me the chance to work closely with a variety of users every step of the way. I strengthened my knowledge and skills in accessibility design, while also designing for new technologies that will be used by the development team.

We've built a strong relationship with the client, and are creating a product that will really help people.

 

What's something fun we don't know about you?

I’m a huge adrenalin junkie – black water rafting, skydiving, canyoning, bungee jumping and riding world-record holding roller coasters. My holidays usually involve seeking out adventure activities, rather than relaxing.

Georgia Price-Bell

MedTech’s Got Talent: Are you Australia’s next MedTech rising star?

MedTech’s Got Talent: Are you Australia’s next MedTech rising star?

Wave Digital is proud – and excited - to announce our affiliation with the 2017 National MedTech’s Got Talent accelerator program (MTGT).

In its third year, MTGT identifies high-potential MedTech concepts from start-ups across the country and fosters them from, often, just early-stage ideas through to working concepts that can be used in hospitals, universities and research institutes the world over. MedTech start-ups will vie for $160,000 in cash prizes and priceless critical professional support in the areas of marketing, development, commercialisation and technology from some of the country’s leaders in each field.

Wave Digital is this year’s MTGT technology partner, which means we’ll work with early-stage entrepreneurs to help them validate and bring to life their MedTech ideas and innovations. “We’re honoured to be chosen as one of the 2017 MTGT technology partners,’’ says Wave Digital’s MD Guy Cooper. “We have more than 15 years helping entrepreneurs and businesses, including a number of MedTech clients, to create successful digital products and, this year, we get to share this extensive experience in digital product strategy, design and development with some of Australia’s most promising MedTech talent.” “MedTech is the intersection of traditional medical devices and technology,‘’ adds Cooper, “and it is one of the most significant and meaningful areas of research on the planet at the moment because it helps better – and sometimes extend – human lives and the quality of our lives. What could be more important?”

MTGT, which is managed by MedTech incubator STC Australia, previously ran only in Victoria but this year the prestigious entrepreneurship program goes national. It is already Australia’s largest MedTech start-up competition. So, how does it work? “There are a few stages,’’ says Cooper whose passion for health can be traced back to his time as an Army Reserve medic and, later, as personal trainer and practitioner. 

“We’ll then cull the entries down to a handful based on the ideas, viability and technology, before it goes to a rapid-fire round where the finalists pitch their innovations to us and four or five other partners,’’ says Cooper. After that, “we’ll choose who we want to work with and mentor them into the next phase of the process where there will be another culling of applicants leaving us with a final shortlist of five potentials.” These five candidates will each receive $20,000 in funding and, after a few more months of mentoring from various partners, including ourselves as technology partners, “they’ll pitch their ideas again,’’ says Cooper, “but this time it will be for real cash to real investors within the MedTech space.” For more information, visit http://medtechchallenge.com/  

How much does it cost to build an app?

How much does it cost to build an app?

How much does it cost to build an app? A more easily answerable question might be how long is a piece of string? Why? Because there is no one way to build an app. Some methods are better than others and some methods are costlier than others. The key is knowing which process best suits your concept – and your budget. “The fact is, you can build an app for pretty much any budget, from $30,000 to $300,000,’’ says Guy Cooper, Managing Director of award-winning app development agency Wave Digital.

“It really does depend, among other things, on what you are trying to achieve, who you are trusting to build your app and what tools and processes they are using to do so.” “There are also several factors that will influence the overall cost of building an app,’’ he adds. “Think of it like buying a car. You can buy a bare bones car that gets you from A to B, but doesn’t have power windows or air conditioning. It works, but the experience is underwhelming. “Or you can buy the top-of-the-line model that has all the bells and whistles. It makes driving easier, sometimes safer and it’s always a pleasure. Then, of course, there’s the middle-of-the-range model that offers a bit of both worlds.” It’s the same with developing an app.

You can build a bare-bones app that does the basics and doesn’t pay too much attention to design or usability, or you can spend a little more money and time and effort and build an app that does everything you want – and well! “Realistically, for apps that are a core part of a business, a realistic app budget is about $50,000 - $100,000 for a good quality product that goes through a thorough process,’’ says Guy. “The key for first-time software developers, however, is knowing that you will need to extend your budget beyond version one, so you shouldn’t spend it all up front."  “For example, if you have an app budget of, say, $150,000, then spend $100,000 on the first version and spend $50,000 on iterations, but also remember that there are other costs that go into building an app that many people don’t consider, things like the legals and marketing.” Guy’s team of designers, programmers and product specialists build about 30-50 apps per year and, typically, client budgets range from $50,000 to $200,000. Between them, they’ve worked on 100s of mobile apps, websites and software and, with a combined 100+ years’ industry experience, these are the six things they say most influence the cost of building an app: 

 

Sketches

 

How many platforms is it being built for?

This will hugely influence how much your app will cost to build. Are you intending to build on both iOS and Android platforms? Perhaps you’d also like a web app, which is a third platform. “Every time you add a new platform,’’ says Guy, “that will, typically, increase the cost because, though you may be able to re-use certain elements, such as leveraging existing graphics or basic code libraries, typically, the best way to build robust, and user friendly apps is to build from scratch for each platform. “This will ensure users get the optimal experience and that your coders can really bring out the best features of each platform because each platform uses its own technology.” For example, iOS apps are built using Objective C or Swift, while Android apps are built using Java. All languages are different and they have their own rules that must be adhered to and you can’t do that by writing once and deploying to three different environments. This same advice applies to the graphics. Are you happy using graphic elements designed for, say, iOS on an Android device? They’re entirely different technologies and users are accustomed to vastly different ways of doing things and they respond to different visual norms. For example, iOS apps have to utilise a ‘back’ button whereas on Android phones the device itself includes a back button so you shouldn’t necessarily need one built into the interface.

 

How many screens does your app require?

Is your app a simple one-to-five-screen affair or is it a complex program that will require multiple screens and some serious logic? Some apps have dozens of screens, each of which needs to be designed visually, then programmed and usually have to interface with a backend from which it will call data and/or business logic.

 

What about design?

How bespoke is your apps design going to be? Are there animations (which always add to the overall cost) and how expensive will they be to create and implement? What about user interface (UI) design and user experience (UX)? Do you need any research into your design done or are you just implementing whatever you think your customers want/need? “The more bespoke the design,’’ says Guy, “the higher the costs will be because it’s not just about a nice look. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to bring you that seemingly simple and effortless design!”

Wireframes

 

Have you thought about security?

We’ve already seen the Windows world brought to its knees by the WannaCry attacks earlier this year and it’s almost inevitable that apps will be hackers’ next targets. So, you must consider security when it comes to building any new app. “Security encompasses more than just whether or not your app can be hacked,” says Guy. “It also includes things like the security of your users’ app data and the security of your code, as well as security in the transmission and storage of data. “These are crucial considerations and, if your app developer doesn’t discuss these topics with you – or can’t answer your questions around security find someone who can and will! Attempting to cut corners when it comes to app security is a terrible idea that can end up costing you a lot more than you think you may have saved by ignoring the issue of app security when designing your app.”

 

Does your app need some sort of backend?

Will you need to change things in your app? For example, does data need to be added or do you need to manage content or access reports / analytics. If so, you’ll need some sort of backend where an Admin can go in and change data or permissions dynamically without having to modify the app’s actual code (and, therefore, hire someone to do it). A backend is, essentially, a whole other app that needs to be built from scratch and, though it will be more cost-effective in the long run, in the short term, it will add, probably significantly, to the initial cost of developing your app. When considering the need for a backend, you should also think about scalability, which controls functions such as how many people can be using the app at one time? What about user management or user authentication?

 

And what about the features?

We’ve talked about, potentially, needing a backend, but even if you don’t need a backend, every feature in your app needs to be programmed, so think about what your app will be doing. Does it need in-app purchases, perhaps a little social media or real time chat? Then there’s image and video processing, push notifications and smartwatch support? The number of features – and the complexity of those features, will influence the final cost of developing your app idea. “Perhaps your app developer needs to liaise with another developer to overcome complex integrations,’’ adds Guy, “or you’re implementing bespoke designs on every screen in the app or using features in a way that has not been attempted before. The list is, quite literally, endless and limited only by your imagination and, of course, your budget.”

Interested in building an app for your business? You can contact us here.  

7 reasons you should trust Wave Digital to build your app

7 reasons you should trust Wave Digital to build your app

What sets Wave Digital apart from other mobile app developers? Lots of things! Here are just 7 reasons you should choose Wave Digital to help bring your app idea to life:

 

Our no-nonsense approach

Yep, we’re happy to say it out loud: we have a 100% no-nonsense policy. We’re cognisant of the fact that most people who come to us, whether they’re a business or an individual, haven’t been through the process of building a bespoke app before, so we make the process as simple and as clear as possible for you.

 

We won’t overwhelm you with buzzwords and tech talk

We use plain language and we won’t confuse you by drowning you in buzzwords. Also, we will not try to make the process look and sound overly complex. Yes, it is complex and very technical, but that’s why you’re hiring us, because we’re the experts and we’re paid to handle the hard stuff! We take an educative approach and will hold your hand through every step in the process! Promise.

 

We take a people-first approach, not a technology-first approach

Of course, it is realistic that your budget will influence what you can build and how quickly, but it’s not the only consideration and, for us, it’s not necessarily the first. Woven into Wave’s DNA is the notion that everything we do should contribute to improving people’s lives through technology, so that’s where we’ll start, with a people-first approach.  The technology will always be the core of the solution, but people are at its heart, so we’ll start with your idea and how it can and will impact people’s lives and work from there.

 

You can actually meet and deal with our team

Every member of our team is located right here in Melbourne, Australia. So, you can visit our offices and actually meet our developers, product specialists and creatives. You won’t deal with one person but never see or hear from anyone else within the company because they’re all located in another country or in another time zone.

Collaboration

 

Our staff are skilled and very experienced (and lots of fun, too!)

Our staff members (this will link to staff profiles eventually) have worked with some of the country’s biggest and best-known companies and start-ups and we’re really proud of the experience and expertise they bring to every project. We’ve worked on hundreds of mobile app projects in dozens of industries and we’ve worked with just about every technology out there. We also pride ourselves on behind ahead of the curve and are, often, playing with new technologies long before most people even hear about them.

 

We understand you’re the expert in your industry – not us

We know you have domain expertise in your industry and we have expertise in ours. We won’t try to make out that we know more than you do because we don’t. Though we always perform extensive research into any field we work in, we understand that you are the expert in your industry, so we will marry your expertise with our knowledge and experience in product development to create a mobile app solution that helps your business truly stand out within your industry.  

 

We are good at what we do so we only do that

Unlike competing agencies, we won’t offer you too many services or spread ourselves too thinly by claiming we do everything well. Our DNA is in digital product design and development and that’s what we stick to. We won’t try to sell you peripheral services that need in depth expertise in their own right (such as marketing or social media). Yes, we have plenty of expert partners in those areas, but we’re providing app expertise.

We’d love to help you build your app. You can contact us here

3 things you need to know about building an app

3 things you need to know about building an app

With more than 5 million apps available across Apple and Google’s app stores globally, you’d expect there wouldn’t be too many lessons to be learned about building an app. However, based on what we - and our fellow app developers – are asked almost every day, here are three things every first-time business, government or start-up wanting to build an app should know.

 

That if you build an app, you’re probably not going to get rich quick!

While Uber and Facebook are actual billion-dollar ideas, such apps are few and far between. Yes, your idea may well be the next SnapChat or Instagram (and we certainly hope it is), but million and billion-dollar apps, no matter how simple, require a lot of work.

“Most people can’t see the countless hours of development time and, in some cases, millions of dollars that have gone into building the world’s biggest and best-known apps,’’ says Guy Cooper, Wave Digital’s Managing Director.

“And, that’s the thing: Developing a successful app is about more than just an idea. It's about the implementation of that idea and the other unseen work that goes into making a successful app successful. It is, often, more about all the work you don’t see than the app you do see!”

“Most overnight successes are anything but,’’ adds Guy. “Many of them have years, if not decades, of work behind them. So, be sure to keep that in mind when you’re thinking of turning your idea into an app.”

 

That you can just jump in and build your app… without any research

“I think one of the biggest mistakes those wanting to build an app make is that they don’t do any research with potential customers before approaching an app developer,’’ says Guy, who has overseen the building of hundreds apps since he took over Melbourne-based Wave Digital in 2013.

“It’s not a terrible thing because people who want to build an app are often very passionate about their idea and they truly believe everyone else will be. But that isn’t always the case and, by doing a little research, they can find that out before they spend any money.”

Wave Digital can help first-timers with the research phase of their app development, but it is best if clients do some market research before approaching an app developer.

“It doesn’t have to be a survey of 1000 people, but even knowing the basic numbers within your industry or what problem your app idea will solve will help. You should also ask yourself if someone else has already solved the same problem and who is having the problem you think your app will solve.

“You just might find that the problem you’re trying to solve isn’t one that’s big enough to warrant the time, effort and money that will go into developing your idea,’’ says Guy, “or that someone else has already solved it. But, hopefully, this initial research will actually show that the problem is big enough – and you’ll be the first to try to solve it!”

 

That the first version of your app has to be perfect

The first version of most apps won’t ever be the final version.

“App development is iterative,’’ says Guy, “there is never a straight line to a solution.

There are learnings to be had along the way so you should approach your app development from a long-term perspective and with the knowledge that you will learn as you go and improvements will need to be made, especially once your app is in the hands of real users.”

“It’s a long process,’’ says Guy “and app development is not suited to anyone who expects immediate results or an overnight success. It’s really important to be realistic about your timeframes and your expectations.”

Interested in building an app. We'd love to hear from you.

Booming: Australia’s ‘app economy’ outdoes Europe’s

Booming: Australia’s ‘app economy’ outdoes Europe’s

App developer. It’s a job title that, even a decade ago, didn’t exist, yet, today, app developers – and myriad roles associated with bringing an app to market – are among the most in-demand by companies in just about every industry. And Australia is no exception. More than 113,000 people are estimated to be working in our exploding ‘app economy’ and, says Guy Cooper, Managing Director of Melbourne app development agency Wave Digital, “it’s not unreasonable to expect that to double over the next few years.”

A new research report by the Progressive Policy Institute, shows that the figure of 113,000 is up 11 per cent since 2014, which means app-related employment in Australia makes up .9 per cent of all jobs. In Europe, that figure is .8 per cent, while in the United States, app-related employment (dubbed ‘app intensity’) is responsible for about 1.1 per cent of all employment. According to the July 2017 report, entitled The Rise of the Australian App Economy, the ‘app economy’ is made up, mainly, of roles related to designing, developing, maintaining or supporting mobile app development, but it also includes allied roles such as those in finance and marketing, which support these core app economy jobs.

“New South Wales leads Australia’s app economy with 56,100 of all related jobs,’’ says Guy, whose own business has tripled its team in three years, “but here in Victoria we come in second and are responsible for 29,000 app-related roles.” According to the report, next in is Queensland with 14,000; Western Australia with 4,400; the ACT with 5,200 jobs; South Australia with 1,600 roles, Tasmania with 1,300 and, finally, the NT with 400 of all app-related roles in the country.

“Most of these workers are employed by app development agencies such as Wave Digital,’’ says Guy who, 10 years ago was working as a Chartered Accountant and wouldn’t have imagined that, a decade on, he’d be running one of Australia’s most successful app development agencies. “The PPI’s report also shows that many of these app economy workers are employed by software or media companies as well as financial and retail companies and non-profits. But I think the list is a lot longer because I doubt there are too many companies that haven’t had a discussion – or at least thought about – creating an app for their own business, industry or customers.

“Every single day we have people from organisations of all sizes, from small one-person businesses to government departments, contact us about how mobile apps can help them or their customers. As the market matures, they are all seeing an even stronger demand from consumers for better quality apps,” Guy says.

There is, he adds, an even greater demand for improved design and better user experiences. There is also now a focus on human-centred design processes as customers become more sophisticated and demand great experiences that truly enhance their lives and genuinely save them time, effort and money.

“Building such intuitive apps can only be done by a great, well-rounded team. That can only come from hiring great people who ‘get’ that building an app is about more than just cobbling together features that a client wants,’’ says Guy. "When hiring, we look for well-rounded people with a little life experience, not just those who fit the job description on paper. It’s about creating something that makes life better, whether you’re a company wanting to streamline your business processes or a small business needing to increase engagement with your customers. There’s no such thing as just building an app these days. You have to build experiences.”

Interested in building an app? We'd love to hear from you.

10 terms you need to know before developing an app

10 terms you need to know before developing an app

Technology is an industry that loves its buzzwords. And when it comes to app development, you could easily reel off 50 without stopping for breath. But there’s a huge difference between the terms and concepts you can know, and those you actually need to know before starting down the journey of building an app. Here are 10 essentials:

 

1. End user

This term is the crucial one, because with no end user – the person at the end of the chain who actually uses your app, there is no need for your app, no one to download it and, thus, no measure of success and engagement. But it’s not enough to just have faith and hope someone will like your app enough to download it. As a starting point, you need to identify who your end user/s are, what solution you want to provide them with and, therefore, what functionality you need the app to achieve. And it could even be that there is more than one kind of end user, especially given the nature of modern audience segmentation. For example, if you were creating an app for clinicians in a hospital, questions to ask in identifying the user or groups of users would include:

  • Is this app just for one department or many departments?
  • Is it for all staff or just medical staff?
  • Will access to the app be equal for all?
  • Will levels of access depend on seniority? For example, will junior doctors use it in the same way as their superiors?

Of course, these are just a few of the questions you would ask in this case, but they do illustrate a point – that before anything else, you must identify clearly who – individuals and groups – will be the target audience for your app because that will tell you specifically who you are writing features for and how to best create a great user experience (UX) that will ensure ongoing engagement.

 

2. User experience (UX)

Abbreviated down to UX, user experience simply refers to how a user feels during and after using your company's app. Does your app meet their needs? Is using your app a positive/happy experience for them? Delivering a successful UX extends far beyond how your app looks (see User Interface below) or ticking off a checklist of features for development. It sets the context for how someone might use your app in their day-to-day life. UX is, quite literally, used to describe the user’s experience with your app. And the best way to explain it is with an example, in this case a partnership Wave Digital has in development with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

The centre’s management first identified the need for an app that would allow patients to record consultations on their cancer journey, and then upload them to the hospital. So, the actual design and construction of that function was something that could have been done immediately. But it wasn’t. The UX needed to be developed in such a way that the app would be downloaded/adopted and used by patients and then used on an ongoing basis, meaning it was about making sure it was end-user friendly and easy to use.

So, here, the UX research focus was on identifying the intended audience for the app, finding out what sort of emotional reaction someone would have after using the app - to make sure it was positive,  on talking to outpatients, looking at what stage of the cancer journey the app would be most useful – as in diagnosis time or later on – identifying at what point in time patients would use it, how they would find out about it, and what would make it something they would come back to. In short, it needed to be much more than just a recording button because, let’s face it, most phones already have those. So, the key to UX is to make the app useful to the user (ie meeting their need), easy to use, to design it so the end user will feel comfortable with the technology on an ongoing basis and, of course, to ensure they are engaged enough to come back.

 

3. User interface (UI)

This term, which is also shortened in the tech space – this time to UI – runs in complement to UX and describes how the app’s elements look on a screen and how they function, all with the aim of improving the UX. So, style wise, it can get down to details as specific as whether you want rounded or bevilled corners on a button, and whether or not it has a shadow. As for the function, it’s about prioritising ease of use, which means, for example, not putting a delete button where people would intuitively expect to find the ‘OK’ command. In short, UI is about marrying form and function to ensure it contributes to an engaging user experience.  As the saying goes: User interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s just not that good.”

 

4. Operating system (OS)

An operating system is the underlying basic software that enables all the apps and interfaces on your device to runs/upports a device’s functions. And for the vast majority of people, this means either Android (as used by Samsung devices, for example) or iOSs (as used by Apple devices). There are alternatives, such as Windows or Blackberry phones, but as these are a smaller percentage of the market and they’re not really relevant to most businesses as the cost of developing for an additional platform usually outweighs the benefits. unless they have the scale of Telstra and the associated need for wider inclusivity. But, in terms of which one to choose, the investment decision can come down to unique factors.

For example, Apple - which is by far the more popular with clinicians in hospitals, for its security credentials, for example - has a closed system with only a certain number of devices that have ever been produced (for example the iPhone 4, and 5 and 6).  So, that offers an advantage in, say, building and rolling out an app for employees to use – for example, workers in the field – because an iOS app doesn’t have to account for as many different types of devices during development as an Android one, which would have to accommodate a lot more screen sizes and devices. But a lot of the time, a business is still going to have to develop apps for both operating systems to create growth and engagement with the widest possible customer base. So, that’s where a staged development can come in, by starting with one platform, ironing out all the issues and bugs first, and then moving on to the other.

 

5. Wireframes

A wireframe is, basically, an app blueprint that physically represents the framework on which it’s built without all the detail you might expect of the final product. Here’s a picture of what a typical wireframe might look like:

 

Wireframes

 

It’s incredibly useful in the design process because it allows you to determine the information hierarchy to allow for the best possible ease of navigation and engagement.

 

6. API

API stands for Application Programming Interface. An API simply enables two or more different pieces of software to talk to each other. For example, your app might need to integrate Google Maps functionality. Developers of your app would use the Google Maps API and associated documentation to facilitate this integration. So whenever you want your app to integrate data from other systems the first question your developers will ask you is: “does that system have an API we can use?”  

 

7. Hybrid app

When developing an app you have a choice to write in the specific language prescribed for each operating system or to write a Hybrid app. Writing a Hybrid app which combines elements of native languages and web languages/technologies. So here, for example, you may write something in web technology but then ‘wrap it’ with some native functionality. You might also have a map view menu that’s written in web technology, but you then wrap it the menu and buttons in the respective native technologies so it looks like a normal iPhone or Android menu as people are used to. So, here’s it about writing a little bit of code that lets you write once and then deploy in a way that you can still take full advantage of each operating system’s unique capabilities. Writing a Hybrid app will usually  save you money but will also impact the design and user experience and your developer should be able to discuss the implications of these decisions early on in the process. Often a staged approach to the investment is recommended. For example, you may start with a hybrid app for your MVP and then using downloads, engagement, usage analytics as justification for additional investment in a Native version of the app(s).  This is the approach we took with VicRoads’ VicTraffic app which started as a Hybrid app and then more recently was completely redesigned natively based on user feedback.

 

8. Analytics

In the world of app development incorporating Analytics into your app is essential to allow you to track what features users use – or don’t use. The Apple and Google Play app stores provide high level analytics eg total number of app downloads but they don’t provide any detailed usage data and this is something you will have to specifically ask your developers to incorporate in your app (this is a non-functional requirement - see below). This detailed analytics data provides a quantifiable metric, which along with other quantitative and qualitative data will help you to make decisions on which features to add, improve or remove and therefore helps you plan and adjust your product roadmap and associated investment. In a news app, for example, analytics could be used to determine what kind of story is most popular with visitors, at which point the writers could then be focused to deliver more content related to the audience interests.

 

9. Reskinning

Not nearly as painful as it sounds, reskinning simply refers to a change in the appearance of an app that creates a new look and feel without affecting the nuts and bolts operations going on beneath the ‘skin’ that users see and interact with. However, don’t underestimate the work that may be required to ‘reskin’ your app and, invariably, when the design is being altered functionality will also be affected - how much or how little is up to you and your developer should be able to talk you through the impact of any design decisions on development risks, time and cost.

 

10. Non-functional requirements

When you start out on the journey to build an app you usually have a good idea of the ‘features’ you would like to be included in the app. Features, or Functional requirements, are the components/interfaces of the app the user interacts with. However, what a lot of people don’t realise is that decisions with regards to content management, security, scalability, analytics etc all need to be made and will affect development. For example, does your app need to accommodate for thousands or tens of thousands of users using it simultaneously? The answer to this question will affect decisions in how to, for example, architect the solution, transfer of data, length of an End User session and design of the API.

Interested in building an app. Get in touch.

2017 snapshot: Australians. We really, really love our apps

2017 snapshot: Australians. We really, really love our apps

Australians love apps. We really, really love apps and, it seems, we love them more than users in most other countries.

According to the latest data from App Annie, which specialises in app market data and insights, Australians use, on average, 36 different apps per month. That’s six more apps than the global average of 30 apps per months.

We also don’t seem to mind cramming our phones chock full of mobile apps, about 100 apps per device on average. That means you’ll find about 10 more apps on an Aussie’s mobile device than you will on an American or European’s device.

“Australians, in general, are pretty open to trying new things if they think it’s going to improve their life,’’ says Guy Cooper, Managing Director of award-winning mobile app developer Wave Digital.

“We’re always willing to give things a go and we’re very trusting when it comes to apps that might aid us in our day-to-day lives, especially when it comes to things like health, finances and productivity as well as our favourite utility apps.”

 

Utilities are the globe's most popular mobile app category

Indeed, one of the most popular apps developed by Wave Digital is VicTraffic, VicRoads' suite of real-time traffic apps. Guy’s comments are backed by the App Annie data, which shows utilities (which includes web browser Safari on iOS devices or Google on Android) make-up the globe’s most popular mobile app category. However, that is influenced by the fact that so many come pre-installed on those devices.

After utilities, predictably, users tend to download a suite of social media and communication apps, and, on average, of these apps, Australians use about 10 of them throughout a typical day. The company’s research also showed that, though we are willing to try new things, when it comes to music, navigation, finance and travel, we find something we like and rarely try anything else.

But there are significant differences between iPhone and Android users, too. It seems, Android users tend to have more games on their phones (at least two) and fewer social media apps, while iOS users prefer utilities (about six on each device), social media apps (at least five) and more productivity and photo/video apps (about four per device).

Agentplus App

 

Productivity apps and utilities that track finances, accounts and spending, such as Agentplus, are hugely popular, not just in Australia, but globally

Given Australia’s higher-than-normal usage of mobile apps, it’s not surprising to see that our time spent using apps is up significantly. App Annie’s report says that, year-on-year, we’ve gone from using apps for almost 100 minutes per day in the first quarter of 2015 to a whopping 130 minutes per day in the first quarter of 2017.

But, though these usage figures put us, roughly, on par with American users, we’re actually still significantly behind our Indonesian neighbours who clocked an astounding 220 minutes+ in Q1 of 2017. That’s more than four hours’ mobile app usage per day!

“These figures are equally scary and exciting at the same time,’’ says Guy, a trained Chartered Accountant, whose favourite apps include accounting app Xero and, of course, his personal banking app. “It’s a little scary that we’re so dependent on our phones and that we’re spending quite a significant percentage of our day on them." 

But,’’ he adds, “ironically, on the flip side, technology - and the apps using them - offer a huge and exciting opportunity to improve our lives and impact us in such a positive way. They save us time, money and effort which, in turn, frees us up for those important things… like interacting with people and the world around us!”

Thinking of building an app? We'd love to talk to you.

7 reasons your business needs an app – and 1 reason it may not!

7 reasons your business needs an app – and 1 reason it may not!

Choosing technology for your business is a bit like checking out the menu at your favourite restaurant: Everything you could possibly want is at your fingertips – you just have to decide what’s right for you. A website and social media presence is mandatory for many modern businesses and increasingly, so too is a mobile app. But do you actually need one? Below are 7 reasons why your business needs an app, and one reason it might not.

 

Apps can help solve your customer’s needs

Where apps shine is when you want to leverage mobile technology to answer a specific challenge or solve a unique need or problem. And the biggest advantage for mobile apps comes from hooking into mobile devices - they constantly move with people and offer significant capability in their own right (eg. hardware, location tracking, camera phones).

A recent example of this was when the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT) approached Wave Digital wanting to tap into smartphone technology to help learner drivers in Tasmania. Wave Digital created the RACT Learner Driver iPhone and Android App that allowed these drivers to log their hours using their phone’s GPS. “This not only removed the physical burden of filling in a logbook,’’ says Guy Cooper, Managing Director of award-winning app developer Wave Digital, “but it also made it easy for the drivers to complete their recording requirements. It engaged them in the process through technology that was well within their comfort zone. The results were instant – and accurate. All they had to do was download the app and they had access to their logs anywhere at any time. No more hunting for pens, logging their kilometres driven or lost log books on the customer’s side and no more time-consuming manual inspections of figures on the client’s part.”

 

Apps can save time and streamline business processes

There are multiple examples of businesses that have capitalised on apps to streamline day-to-day services for customers. A great example is Agentplus. Wave Digital built the Propertyplus web, iphone and android app that enables property owners to have complete visibility over their property file allowing them to see real-time information about their property. It also enables them to communicate easily with their tenants. "Replacing paper forms and manual processes is a simple way an app can help businesses save time and streamline" says Guy Cooper. "Not only is it great for customers, it can also make a big difference to your staff."

Streamline Business Processes

 

Apps can help you deliver (quickly and painlessly) services your clients are asking for

When thinking about whether your business needs an app, you need to be very clear about the motivation behind it. A crucial focus is identifying the problem or situation it needs to address. One terrific example is VicRoads, “which needed a way to answer customer demand for real-time information and updates on emergencies across all kinds of devices, not just desktop,’’ adds Guy Cooper. This meant there were some unique issues to consider, such as how to best present large amounts of data in a way that wasn’t overwhelming. With this in mind, Wave Digital created a suite of journey planning apps - under the umbrella of VicTraffic - that offered a high degree of customer personalisation, such as the ability to see just events or road closures. Other info streams included how heavy traffic was on main Victorian roads and also travel times on major motorways, all using responsive design principles to ensure equal functionality on all devices. And the results so far speak for themselves, with more than half a million downloads, echoing its precision customer targeting and also adding credibility to a government agency and its brand.

 

Apps will help to evolve your market – or to create new ones for your business

For the right business, apps can also be a terrific way to target a potential new market or sector. In some cases this could be an avenue to reach a new demographic, such as tech savvy youth customers who mightn’t visit a bricks and mortar store but will engage with a label digitally. But it can also create opportunities for B2B. Remembering that a key motivation for app development is to solve a particular need or problem, your business may create a solution you then identify as having industry wide applications. And that can create a potential new sales channel. An example of successful B2B is again Agentplus. The leading Australian property management services provider commissioned Wave Digital to develop an app to help investment property owners manage their asset with full visibility – from inspection reports to financial statements and maintenance notifications. But by building in a white labelling feature, they allowed for re-branding with personalised logos and colours, creating a product that could be adopted by other real estate clients, and thus creating a ready-made sales opportunity that itself turned into a stand alone business. So, the key message here is to identify a need and find a way to address it in a way that might be attractive across your wider industry and, if you’re really lucky, across other industries, too.

 

Apps provide an avenue to expand into mCommerce

Mobile commerce (mcommerce) capabilities offered through an app can serve as a powerful tool in the retail space, particularly with the way products are presented. However, this isn’t just about offering a mobile version of the website, but instead about taking the opportunity to do things differently, from harnessing the power of swipes and pinch-to-zoom when showcasing items for sale, to setting up push notifications that offer a discount when items are placed in a wish list. The key is to understand context, and to know, for example, that the customer could be on a bus while using the app, or watching TV on the lounge. So, the idea is to design for why people will use the app, where they will use it and how they will interact with it. If you can match with all these points, you then have a prime opportunity to leverage a sale. Great examples are Wave Digital's work with Arro Home and Aspire Learning Resources.

Increase Engagement

 

Apps can drive and increase engagement

Sales channels, customer contact points, business efficiencies and targeted information delivery can all springboard app development, but for some businesses, engagement can be both the means and the end. One example of this is the membership-driven Victorian branch of the ANMF (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Foundation), which was looking for a way to better engage with a younger audience. Part of this approach was a decision to move away from traditional printed diaries at the request of members, who instead wanted digitisation – a move that also offered a cost benefit for the organisation. But the major plank of the strategy, in consultation with Wave Digital, was the creation of the ANMF Diary iPhone and Android app that would engage this younger audience – one that carried a phone, not a diary. The app does this in part by providing them with tools to simplify their working days, such as a shift planner and dosage calculators. The vision was to create a product that members would pull in and out of their pocket all day. As Guy Cooper says, “it wasn’t to produce, or to tell them about an event, but to build engagement among its 76,000 members. And the app worked brilliantly, with the ANMF reporting almost 20,000 of its members have downloaded the app so far.”

 

Apps can be new and lucrative assets for your business

Although app development can sometimes be perceived as mainly for the big end of town, it’s actually relevant to any business that can justify the investment. “The trick is to understand that success isn’t only measured in the traditional way” says Guy Cooper. “Yes, it could be about saving money or boosting sales,” he adds, “but it could equally be centred on developing an app that makes it easier for suppliers or staff to engage with a business, or to help improve service delivery. In these cases, then, it’s not about serving as a marketing tool but about creating business efficiencies. It can also be about keeping the business relevant. “Many companies are apprehensive about the digital space,” says Guy, “but it’s still incredibly important for them to keep up, and an app can be one way for them to innovate and leverage technology to do business better, for employees, for suppliers and customers.” So here, it’s about creating an asset, one which is not tangible but which will give a return on investment when done correctly. It just needs the right mindset. Other advantages of apps can be a visibility boost (apps being more immediately visible on a device than a website) where the download enjoys ongoing engagement, an avenue for direct marketing (where data is used properly to offer personalised, contextualised and relevant information when it is most appropriate to the customer, not the business), and the perception of more immediate contact with brands than something like an online content form. “So,” says Guy Cooper, “the question is not why you need an app, but what an app – preferably custom designed to offer something more than what everyone else has - can do for your business.”

 

Where your business doesn't need an app

“The answer,’’ says Guy Cooper “is that apps are not for everyone. Although there are lots of ways your business can benefit from building an app, either for your own business or for your customers, there are times when you just don’t need one. A good example is if you just want to produce and communicate information, websites and social media are still viewed as the way to go." The first question is to look at what you’re trying to achieve and whether an app can be part of the puzzle or the whole solution. It’s about pinpointing the problem and looking at how you can leverage technology to solve it. “If an app isn’t part of that solution, then don’t go down that route" says Guy "However, nine out of 10 times, apps are not only capable of solving a business problem, they can actually benefit your business or your customers in other ways”.

Interested in building an app for your business? We would love to hear from you.

How to choose an app developer

How to choose an app developer

Finding an app developer isn’t difficult - but finding the right one to build an app for your specific business or your specific idea can be more challenging. Why? Because app developers have varying levels of experience and expertise, and vast differences in their understanding of app development, including aspects such as customer research and marketing. Choosing the right developer can make the difference between your app being a hit with your customers and it being something they’ll never use. So, it’s crucial to perform a little research. Here are nine questions to ask yourself – or your potential app developer - before signing on the dotted line.

 

1. What experience do you have developing apps?

It may sound obvious but does your prospective app developer have any real experience developing native apps? Anyone who has completed even the most basic online app development course can dub themselves a mobile developer, but be sure to ask them to show you what apps they’ve built. If a developer’s repertoire comprises mostly template rebuilds or smaller apps on a platform other than the one you wish to build on, they may not have the experience necessary to properly pull off your job. That’s why you need to look for an app developer who has experience building mobile solutions for trustworthy brands and credibility because they’ve developed complex apps before.

 

2. Have you worked in my industry/category?

While you wouldn’t necessarily discount a mobile app developer who hadn’t built an app within your industry, it’s always wise to ask this question. If they have worked in your industry or category, it means they’ve likely tackled some of the same problems that you’ll be trying to solve. They may have worked with others in that industry and, therefore, have proven ability in that sector. It also means they can hit the ground running faster than someone who hasn’t worked in the industry and have a better understanding of the space you’re entering better than a developer who has never worked in it before.

 

3. Do you have experience with my platform/s of choice?

Though there are a number of third-party app development platforms that allow developers to write code once then deploy it to other platforms, writing code native to the iOS and Android ecosystems is always the preferable option if cost permits. Writing code-native to the iOS and Android platforms allows developers to design a seamless user experience and properly leverage the device's operating system and the device hardware, something which is difficult, if not impossible, if you use a cross-platform development tool. An app developer that specialises only in iOS apps may not have the grasp of the Android platform your app will require, though this won’t matter if you’re only developing an app for, say, Apple devices, of course.  

 

4. Who’s on your team?

There will be projects that can be completed by a single developer, but if you’re creating a bigger app or, perhaps, looking to digitise your business practices, you might want more than one experienced person working on your app. Ask your developer who is on their team – if, indeed, they have one – and look them up online or on LinkedIn. Where have their team members worked? What positions have they held? What qualifications or experience do they have? How long have they been in the industry? What apps have they built? While we would never discount computer science students and newly minted graduates (think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg), it’s not terribly likely that the duo of graduates offering to build your app at a bargain basement price will be bound by the same legal, intellectual property or security considerations that a dedicated app building company or full-time app developer that is registered as a business would, so be wary.

Wave Digital Team

 

5. Where can I download your app?

If you can’t find any of your prospective app developer’s work in one of the mobile markets, ask them for copies of apps they’ve built in the past – and they should hand over those details with pride and enthusiasm. If they don’t, watch out! Yes, some of their work may be confidential, but it’s unlikely that everything they’ve ever built was confidential. If that is the case, however, get them to walk you through the apps in person so they can show you what they’ve developed and you can get a feel for their products and quality of work. If you do get hold of apps from their portfolio, play with them. Don’t just download them and peruse the first few screens, use them! Try to break them. Think about what you like and don’t like about their work and think about how this style would translate into your app, if they were chosen to build it.

 

6. How do your apps look?

Consider how the products they’ve developed look visually. How are they represented, not just in their apps, but on their websites and walk-throughs? How do they present their work? Do you like the look of it? How would you feel if your app looked like the apps in their portfolio? The quality of their app and the quality of its overall look and feel are crucial. Modern customers are very savvy and work with products like Facebook and Google’s products every day, so they’re used to high-quality, easy-to-use software and they know intuitively when something is off visually. This is particularly try when it comes to users of each platform who are used to different usage patterns, and if you want to impress your audience then it is advisable to design for each platform separately. Does your app developer have an in-house designer or does the programmer create the designs themselves? Think about all these things because if the interface is ugly or unusable, your customers won’t give you a second chance, they’ll just delete your app or leave a potentially damaging review!

 

7. Where is the team located?

This is another really important question. There are plenty of skilled and talented app developers located in cities and countries outside your own but what is important is will you have access to them, even remotely? Outsourcing your app development may seem cost effective in the short term, but in the long term, it can be problematic. For example, will there be language barriers? What about security of your code? Whose IP and consumer laws will your programmers be bound by and, should anything go wrong, is your code safe or will you get your money back? What about timezones? Will you have access to the programmers or do you have to go through myriad Account Managers scattered across the globe? Something always gets lost in translation, and different time zones can lead to lengthy delays.

Designing and developing a successful app requires a close collaboration between experts in your business and the app development agency. Your app agency side of this collaboration includes product, design, creative and technical experts. The ability to have those experts in a room side-by-side with stakeholders from your business is invaluable and something you can't achieve with an offshore team. Building an app always includes a trade-off between time, cost and quality - you can only ever choose two, so the question to ask yourself is which of the three is likely to be impacted if you choose an offshore team, and are you happy with the impact of that decision on your brand?

 

8. Will they provide references?

Will your prospective app developer provide you with references from previous customers? If not, you need to ask yourself why. Do they have something to hide about the way they work or how they handled previous projects? Random testimonials on the developer’s website are one thing (and they’re only any good if there’s a verifiable name and company attached to them), but being put in touch with a customer you can talk to offers a whole other level of assurance for your future investment. Ask references about the developer’s previous work and their interactions with them. Were there any issues? Did they make deadlines? Did costs blow out? How would they rate their experience with the developer overall? Better yet, ask them if they’d ever choose to work with the developer again. The answer to that question will tell you everything you need to know, but always keep in mind that there are two sides to every story.

 

9. How much will it cost?

Of all these questions, this is the one every single potential client will ask at some stage, but even though price will always matter, the fact is you’ll always be able to find someone who can build your app (or say they can do it) within your budget. Frankly, you’ll probably even be able to find someone who will do it for less, but cost shouldn’t be your only driver when it comes to building an app for your business. In order to cut costs your potential app developer will also, likely, have to cut corners, whether that’s the size and experience of the development team or the time they can spend writing your code, securing your app or designing it. Never, ever be driven solely by price because when it comes to building an app, you really do get what you do - or don’t - pay for.

Looking for a Melbourne-based app developer? Contact us here

Mobile app security: five ways to prevent your app being hacked

Mobile app security: five ways to prevent your app being hacked

While business owners across the Windows world weep over the recent crippling WannaCry ransomware attacks, mobile apps remain relatively untouched - for now. But it’s only a matter of time before hackers set their sights on infiltrating the 150+ billion apps sitting on smartphones across the globe. However, with a little planning and forethought, there are several steps you can take to ensure your apps and the infrastructure supporting them aren’t brought down quite so easily by malicious code.

“There’s no such thing as an unhackable piece of software but what you can do is build apps that are as difficult to penetrate as possible,” says Guy Cooper, Managing Director of Melbourne-based mobile app developer Wave Digital. “The first and most simple solution to boosting your app security, of course, is to hire a reputable mobile app developer who understands - and has experience in - mobile security. You see, apps are no longer standalone pieces of software,’’ adds Guy. “They are supported by a range of other technologies and that is where more of the security concerns around app vulnerabilities are. Your app developer must understand this - and have experience in securing mobile software.” These developers will build apps that comply with the latest best practice mobile app security guidelines as published by the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). However, even if you’ve had your app built by someone who, perhaps, doesn’t have experience in the field of mobile security, there are other steps you can take to shore up your app’s security.

 

Perform an app security audit

If you’re not sure about how safe and secure your mobile app is, perform a security audit before it’s too late. Your app developer should be able to do this for you, but if not, there are several third-party services that can perform an app security audit of your Android, Windows or iOs apps, as well as any web-based software. Security audits will assess how vulnerable your app and importantly the back-end infrastructure and databases that support your app are to an attack, as well as the testing of your app’s data transmission, storage and authentication procedures.

 

Stay up to date

Those most affected by the recent WannaCry hacks hadn’t updated their Windows operating systems with the various security patches and updates the developer, Microsoft, regularly offers. “This same principle applies to all software, including apps,’’ adds Guy Cooper who says that 99 per cent of his clientele now take up the option of ongoing app maintenance including security. By ensuring all the code running your app’s infrastructure is always up to date, your software won’t be as susceptible to many known vulnerabilities, which is exactly what hackers target. “You need to have a maintenance agreement in place with your app developer,’’ adds Guy Cooper. “That way, they’ll continually monitor the information on the software being used for updates and they’ll pro-actively update the various technologies used in your software as new vulnerabilities surface and new patches are released.”

 

Secure the data

Mobile app security extends to any data connected with it. “Check that all data is being transmitted via SSL, just as a secure website or ecommerce site would do,” says Cooper, “and ensure that all sensitive data stored, be it on the cloud or on your own servers, is encrypted.” Similarly, just as you would regularly change the password on your email, ensure that your business has procedures in place for changing passwords and access to the backend servers that store your app’s data and implementing two-factor authentication where appropriate. If you’ve got an app which stores data on a user’s phone, it is useful to consider how often they are forced to change their password and how often the app forces the user to login again.

 

Backup the data

WannaCry works by locking users out of their own systems and the only way to regain access is to pay hackers $300 USD (hence the term ransomware). Check that your app developer has put in place appropriate data recovery and backup procedures - and, most importantly, that they’re regularly tested. That way, if anything disastrous happens, like being hit by ransomware, you need only restore your last backup, which will always be a better option than losing everything. Just be sure that these backups are made regularly to minimise any data loss.

 

Interested in building a secure app? Come and talk to us

VicTraffic infrastructure scaling

VicTraffic infrastructure scaling

Just as we've seen during the bushfires in 2014 and other years, when incidents occur affecting the Melbourne road network like a truck nearly falling off the Bolte Bridge in 2013, VicTraffic is experiencing extremely high spikes in visitor traffic volumes due to widespread flooding across much of Victoria.

Victraffic Sessions

But also at this time, due to the flooding having such a far-reaching impact across almost the whole state of Victoria, VicTraffic is currently displaying more incidents (road closures, traffic alerts, detours, roads re-opened, road works, tow allocations) than ever before, to the best of our collective knowledge. Thankfully, the clever AWS infrastructure Wave set up behind VicTraffic is scaling as it is intended to, allowing the site to stay up and available to all users in times of very heavy load such as this.

Interested in setting up similar infrastructure? Come and talk with us

Victraffic AWS Infrastructure

Utilities sector software systems integration

Utilities sector software systems integration

South East Water approached Wave Digital for a custom application development to integrate internal systems and give operators a single-source-of-truth for their data which was distributed across many business units and applications. Having seen Wave Digital's work with VicRoads for their VicTraffic applications, South East Water sought Wave's expertise in complex system integrations in early 2015.

Wave Digital worked with South East Water throughout 2015 to implement an installation of our data integration and visualisation toolset, enabling South East Water's management and operators a holistic overview of all assets in one GIS interface, with accompanying data from SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition), AMIS (asset management information systems), ERP (enterprise resource planning), EDM (electronic document management) and other proprietary systems, all within one intuitive viewport.

South East Water recently deployed the application live into their operations production environment, following rigorous testing by operators and internal sys-admins.

 

Brief

South East Water relied on Wave Digital’s expertise for advice on five key aspects of the solution design for the application:

  • Development process
  • Framework design
  • Frontend implementation
  • API requirements
  • UI design

South East Water wanted a new web-based framework to host and display various asset management and operational systems and other related data to provide real-time visibility and business analysis.

The brief was to develop a dynamic, highly interactive presentation layer UI to sit across core asset related business systems, and needed to include:

  • a dashboard-style presentation of high-level indicators;
  • focus on user experience, and;
  • the ability to display detailed trend and other relevant data.

The challenge was that operational data and visibility of South East Water's systems were in different systems. These needed to be integrated and presented using leading-edge web technologies (HTML5, AngularJS) to graphically present the data in a meaningful way to users, who ranged from operational staff to managers.

 

Approach

There was a lot of preparation and consultation at the front end, says Project Manager and Scrum Master Nick Craig.

“We started off with a blueprint phase, including a tech evaluation and a High Level Requirement document. We established a lot of detail before building anything. This gave South East Water ample opportunity to give feedback, and enabled us to clarify issues and key terms early in the piece.”

 

A UI review was conducted, based on the visual elements and layouts present in the existing SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system. The aim was to clarify requirements with respect to the behaviour of the UI rather than establish a fixed ‘pixel perfect’ visual mock-up of the system.

“South East Water developers had the power to accept or reject code during any delivery phases, defining extensibility, integration and documentation required over the course the build phase.”

 

Solution

The framework is modular, based on reusable libraries of code that can be extended in the future to consolidate other South East Water systems at a UI level.

Wave Digital developed a web-based application to integrate varying forms of data from the various systems via their APIs. The data is transformed and then rendered in a desktop browser in a meaningful and instantly intuitive way to South East Water users.

A consolidated view of assets was achieved by bringing together separate sources of operational data that operated 'in silos', and giving 'a single source of the truth' of their assets' performance to management and individual operators.

 

Technology

Web-based platform with cross-browser functionality

The framework design is fully modular so that each element within a given application can be parameterised for full flexibility. For example, there is the ability for the user to favourite their default loading application, and the UI opened with URL-based parameters allows on the fly customisation of the screen presented to them (URL routing).

The framework was built using:

  • JavaScript (AngularJS, jQuery), HTML5, CSS3
  • Highcharts/Highstock charting tools
  • Google maps/earth API

Key elements include:

  • Google based mapping overviews and interactions
  • Tables, lists, search bars, etc
  • JavaScript based trending elements
  • Calls to a variety of systems via web services or APIs
  • Static images, hyperlinks, etc

 

Contact

Don't hesitate to get in touch with Wave if you would like to discuss this project in more detail or face similar challenges in your organisation.

ANMF Diary App knocks Medicare off #1 spot in iOS App Store

ANMF Diary App knocks Medicare off #1 spot in iOS App Store

The Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation's (Victorian Branch) ANMF Diary iPhone and Android App has been seeing strong download numbers, currently sitting at #3 in the Medical category for free apps in Apple's iOS App StoreDuring launch, when the app was first released to members, it knocked Medicare's Express Plus Medicare app off the #1 spot, which is no easy feat! *Download stats courtesy App Annie

iOS App Store Ranking

 

Launch Strategy

The ANMF are working through a solid launch strategy and have shared guidance notes with members as well as a step-by-step video to prepare them for an easy on-boarding process. This has all resulted in good user metrics so far.

Interested in a Melbourne-based app developer for your app? We'd love to hear from you.

ATO Expenses tax receipt management app sees 63% year on year increase

ATO Expenses tax receipt management app sees 63% year on year increase

Wave Digital's very own tax receipt management app, ATO Expenses iPhone App, has seen a substantial jump in its user base, with a 63% increase in downloads over the past 12 month period, when compared to the previous 12 months. The app was developed by the Wave team during one of our Wave Labs innovation events, and subsequently iterated upon to enhance the functionality of the app. With these enhancements, but little marketing and publicity, the app's usage has organically increased by quite a large percentage year-on-year.

Total downloads are now up to 7,750 units, a number Wave are keen to see grow over the coming 12 months. ATO Expenses helps keep track of all of your shopping receipts, and streamlines your tax return processing at the end of the financial year. 

ATO Expenses App Growth

And that’s a wrap for 2015

And that’s a wrap for 2015

...not quite yet. With only a few days to go for this year, we're right in the middle of post-launch mode with a number of projects in their final sprints.

As 2015 wraps up, the team at Wave Digital would like to share with you some of our recent work and wish you all a Merry Christmas. Stay tuned throughout 2016 as we share tech and industry insights with you.

Wave's offices will be closed from midday Wednesday December 23rd, and reopen on Monday January 4th.

We wish all of you a Merry Christmas. As always clients can contact us with support queries at support@wavedigital.com.au. All the best for a successful 2016 from the team at Wave Digital.

 

Launch

December has been a busy month for the Wave team with multiple projects reaching a crescendo. Hot off the press. Check out the app store for the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation's new Diary App just released today!  It's the best shift-planner out there, and also a great tool for the nurses & midwives on the wards.

Map Coffee are a long-standing Wave client and we have been working closely in-tandem with them throughout the last half of the year to deliver their innovative Map Coffee Club and most recently a complete redesign of their website. This site went live earlier this week.

DealMax's new site was launched late this year also, and features some innovative UX and cutting edge JS for a very streamlined form submission process. Head over and check out their offering and get yourself some personalised quotes directly from lenders.

 

Growth

2015 saw Wave Digital bringing in new staff to all areas of the business. Back in January, our Digital Project Manager, Nick Craig, joined us and has since then set about improving project delivery and internal systems. Nick's strong project management experience and delivery methodologies such as Agile and TOGAF have been a boon to the business. May saw Wave recruit an Account Director, David Scott, to ensure Wave's exceptional client service and the Wave Way of listening and educating is delivered to clients. Wave Digital and Sitepoint Group stalwart, Ciaran Ryan relocated his young family back to Ireland during June also.

 

Hiring again

Wave are expanding again, recruiting a Digital Designer to add to our stable. Head on over to Seek, and share it with anyone you may know, or send them our way.

RealTime Health Win at iAwards

RealTime Health Win at iAwards

Congratulations to Healthily with their GoShare app developed by Wave Digital, winning a Merit Award at the Victorian iAwards ceremony on Tuesday night.

It’s great news for Dr Tina Campbell and her team, with a fantastic achievement in the competitive health category. We wish them all the best of luck for the national finals!