Gergely Orosz, Developer
About the team:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I did software development at University but also did a bit of Java, Symbian and C++. I had an awful development experience with Symbian and hated developing with Symbian for mobile. I didn’t like the limitations.
After that we did web development, then .Net and Silverlight. When I heard about WP7 coming out and that I could use my existing skill-set with Silverlight I was very excited about the prospect. They already had the cocktail website, so I had the raw materials available to use for the app. The original Hungarian website, Cocktail Flow was originally built out from a hobby.
The whole development lifecycle for the application was about four and a half months from decision to launch to publish. I didn’t write any production code for the first two and a half months. During this time I brainstormed, looked at videos and tried to get my head around WP7, the new Windows UI, etc.
The app- what does it do well?
It fits well into the new Windows UI and embraces it.
Does the design reflect the parent site?
I would probably say no. The only thing the app shares with the parent site is the images. The navigation is completely different.
When you started out, the main goal was to create the best cocktail app. Do you think you’ve achieved that?
We researched other platforms and apps and initially thought no way. We looked at the new Windows UI, existing cocktail apps and we realised we could do better than the best iPhone app. The feedback we have received and the feeling is that Cocktail Flow is the best cocktail app on all mobile platforms. We found it took longer to develop on the iPhone than WP7 and it is not as high level.
We now have an Android app in the works, this has been fraught with development problems relating to the fragmentation that occurs with different handset manufacturers and there is no one fits-all solution.
The plan for future apps will follow the pattern of the prototype on WP7 and then roll out to other platforms. To create the panorama our designer is a believer in small visual elements. With the app, we focused on the detail, custom icons for actions and custom thumbnails. We wanted to make it more alive, more tempting.
The developers had to push the designer to use pivot and for the designer to understand the new Windows UI.
User feedback on the design
We had good feedback and users like the UI and design. They can use themed panoramas which they change for different occasion, for example, changing the panorama for Valentine’s Day. This is our way of giving something extra to the users and making them feel like the app was worth the money.
The feedback from version 1.0 was that there were not enough recipes, how was this addressed?
We decided that although it is easy to add more recipes, adding more images increases the app size. An app over 20mb cannot be downloaded via 3G. Therefore, we wanted to keep it under this limit for a better user experience ‘on the go’.
So we created dynamic cocktail packages, like in-app purchase but for free. Additional downloads but no charge to augment the existing content. This also has the added effect of refreshing the app remotely and adding new cocktails drives downloads.
We made an important change to the panorama about a month ago. We changed the look and feel of the settings section. We did this by not making it as colourful but more subtle as to indicate it is not as important as the other sections.
Is having design guidelines a good thing?
Yes, when we started developing there weren’t as many guidelines. Since they have been updated this has been a lot better.
Do you think there is enough design differentiation between applications?
Yes - people love and are caught by the design and are then surprised by what the functionality offers.
Do you have any tips for fellow developers/designers?
Have a strong set of functionality and then invest heavily in design and user experience.
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