Monthly Archives: June 2013

Future self goals tracking tool

To get some experience with StackMob I’m going to create another android app.


Stackmob can take care of the whole back-end side of an app and is supposed to be easy to implement and save developers a lot of time. Also I’m curious how easy/difficult it would be for me to create another appand if this new app can do better than Idea Growr.

Here are some wireframes for the new app.Wireframes future self tracking

Like Idea Growr it is a simple personal tool. I have got about all the screens in wireframes. For the rest of this week I’ll focus on setting up the project and creating the front-end interfaces and next week I’ll start to delve into StackMob.

I will also keep working on Idea Growr. Mostly on the marketing experiments I wrote here.

A (very) little bit of gamification in Idea Growr

In the latest update of Idea Growr (v.1.16), I added a new widget. If you want to see it, you can see a little bit of gamification in there.

Widget (4)

Buttons (left to right):

  1. Opens main page
  2. Directly to create idea
  3. Directly to create note
  4. Shows the number of ideas you have, goes to all ideas list

What I’m hoping for, is that seeing the number of ideas you have grow, will make you feel good. And it could also make you notice if you haven’t added a new idea for a while.



Update on marketing experiment 1. Long tail of languages

Last week I wrote about doing 3 experiments.

The first experiment is:

The idea is to ask friends, or just contact schools in different countries and ask if they would like to help me. There is not much more I can offer in return than a big thank you and a “this translation was made possible thanks to X” in the description. Still, I think it is doable.

Success criteria
Get it translated in 3 atypical languages. The more different the cultures belonging to these languages are, the better.

After doing some research online, I found a group on reddit that is dedicated to the translations of apps. So I wrote a request for translations. Another great thing I discovered was that there are websites dedicated to helping you get your app translated. I set up an account at CrowdIn, and I it worked great.


Now a week later, the app is translated in:

So I’m happy I succeeded the first part of my personal challenge. The second part of the success criteria we can only judge in a month:

Have a significant traffic increase for these languages/countries. To make it measurable, let’s say 500 new active installs for that language in the first month after adding the language update. Today the whole app has 371 active installs after three weeks of use.

Probably I would have to do some promotion on websites in those languages. But at the moment I have no clue how to do that. I’ll try to come up with a plan for that..

Next up is trying to make it possible for people to donate using an in-app purchase.

Sugar Salt Fat

Last week I wrote a tweet about an idea for an app that would help people better understand food labels.

Sugar Fat Salt on Twitter

To find out about the potential of this idea, I felt I had to make a mini plan.
Something to discuss with people and get feedback on. So here it is.

Stimulate better eating patterns, by improving the understanding of what we eat.

Obesity is getting more and more of a problem.
This is a health risk for them and expensive for society.

Continue reading

New experiments for a new road map

Now feels like the right time to revisit the road map I had set out for Idea Growr.

Let’s first take a look at the old one:

  1. First (DONE) Save & Show ideas, app provides question fields to idea
  2. Clean (DONE) Questions ordered in chapters, notes, cleaned code & database, some colors
  3. Google Play (DONE) Backup / export options, put it on Google Play
  4. Stats (DONE) Statistics, nice visual design (icons, etc), ready for updating via Google Play
  5. Accounts Accounts & backup ideas online (no web app access), security
  6. Freemium Freemium model. If you pay can write unlimited amount of ideas

According to this roadmap I should now start to work on accounts. I thought of this milestone because I thought it would be a challenge to program and valuable for the app.

Postponing accounts..

Now I have the app up and running, I feel like security might be a bigger thing than I anticipated. Making a mistake in how I set this up, might be not something that is repairable. While I investigate the different back-end options and see who might help me out with that, I am going to skip step 5 for now.

Reframing freemium

My first plan was to use the freemium model for the number of ideas you can store. Having experience with the app, it now feels like a silly idea. So there needs to be a something else in place. I’ll get back on this later in this post. I’m not really skipping this step, but taking a different approach.

Adding a new perspective


The old road map was based on giving me a nice technical challenge that also results in something that people might actually use. Now I added a new ambition. I also want to learn more about the marketing of an app like this. How can I make this app have real impact?

The best way to learn is to just try, so I pinpointed three areas to investigate and experiment in.

1. Long tail of languages


My gut feeling tells me that the majority of apps are not translated in a lot of languages. I think most app creators rather create a new feature then take the effort to translate it in 50 languages.

If Idea Growr would be translated in 50 languages it is very well possible that in a couple of those languages/cultures, it somehow hits a sweet spot and generates a large number of users. Also, all the people who prefer to use apps in their own little used language, might add up to be a large group of people.

Experiment: Add three atypical languages

The idea is to ask friends, or just contact schools in different countries and ask if they would like to help me. There is not much more I can offer in return than a big thank you and a “this translation was made possible thanks to X” in the description. Still, I think it is doable.

I want atypical languages, because I want to investigate the long tail with all the smaller languages, so while I wouldn’t reject anyone helping me out with translating it in French and Spanish, it is not where I will put my energy in.

Success criteria

  • Get it translated in 3 atypical languages.
    The more different the cultures belonging to these languages are, the better.
  • Have a significant traffic increase for these languages/countries.
    To make it measurable, let’s say 500 new active installs for that language in the first month after adding the language update. Today the whole app has 371 active installs after three weeks of use.

Marketing investigation 2. In-app purchases


The sooner I learn about in-app purchases the better. So I need to do experiments on what my users find valuable.

Experiment: Test 3 in-app purchase options

The experiments should test different type of motivations for people to pay. It is not yet clear for me what (if any) motivation my users will have to pay for anything in relation to Idea Growr. So let’s test.

  1. Support idea growr (1 dollar) on the About page.
    Motivation: Feel good. They love the app, would like to show their support
  2. New feature (1 dollar*): get inspirational quotes and challenges that stimulate your thinking
    Motivation: More stimulating content
  3. New feature (1 dollar*): customize the questions or add your own.
    Motivation: More control over the app

* I don’t have the capacity to actually create those features just for in-app purchase testing. So the buttons will be fake. No purchase can be made, but the click does show an intent. The user will be shown a message explaining the situation. If possible, these fake buttons will only be shown to a portion of the users, so that not all users will get this sub-optimal experience.

Success criteria

  • Non-marketing criteria: if the in-app purchase process is implemented and has been shown to work at least once.
  • If user feedback and statistical analysis of the usage of the buttons give a better understanding of what people want to pay for. It’s not about how much money, but about what motivation is the strongest.

Marketing investigation 3. Get endorsements


More people need to know that Idea Growr exists. The plan is to get well known creative people to write a tweet and facebook message refering to Idea Growr.

Experiment: Add three endorsements

Some people are what I call creative thought leaders in a field. They push the thinking forward by having a vision and are putting new ideas out there that support this vision. For instance, let’s take Jamie Oliver in the field of cooking. What is Jamie’s perspective on growing ideas? That is both interesting and relevant to the users of Idea Growr. I will write about a more concrete plan on how to go about this in a later post.

Success criteria

The first experiment is more about testing the process of getting someone to endorse than making that much of an impact on installs. These thought leaders don’t have to be super famous.

  • Get three creative thought leaders to contribute and endorse Idea Growr.
    • The person must at least have 10.000 followers on Twitter
    • The person must be genuine. He or she is actually creative and cares about  how his or her field moves forward.
  • Have a small but significant traffic increase after this tweet and/or Facebook message. Let’s say an increase of 100 new active installs in the first month per person. That would add up to an increase of 300 new active installs. It might be difficult to measure directly if someone installed Idea Growr because of an endorsement, but a bump in the statistics should be clearly visible.

If this experiment is a success, more famous people can be contacted to try to get more impact.

The new road map

  • 1,2,3,4 Done!
  • 5. Experiment: Add three atypical languages
  • 6. Experiment: Test 3 in-app purchase options
  • 7. Experiment: Add three endorsements
    • While I did not explain it yet, this one requires coding
  • After that; evaluate & make a new plan.

Idea Growr reviews


The reviews on Google Play are great for three reasons:

1) It shows the core feature of the app works
The user reviews and how Idea Growr is used so far show that people who use the app like it. My goal was to only start thinking about adding extra features if the people really enjoy working with the core feature. The first indications are that I can start thinking about adding extra features. These extra features must obviously add value to this core and not clutter the app.

2) Good reviews boost Google Play ranking
The more positive reviews the app gets, the more people will discover the app. If people search for “idea” on Google Play, the ratings of the reviews are a big part of how Google decides at what position to put Idea Growr.

As I’m writing this, Idea Growr is coming up at position 48 for “idea” (free apps, sort by relevance). Searching for “write idea” (free, relevance) Idea Growr has the 7th position. Not bad at all considering the app is only live for three weeks with just 345 active installs.

3) Feedback & feature requests
Reviews give a good idea of what (some) people think of they app and what features they feel are missing. For instance Zak asked for a widget.


I felt a widget was still part of the getting the core experience right and I thought it would be intersting to learn how to do. So in the next version I added the most simple widget I could think of that added value.

Three buttons; start app, write idea, write noteWidget8juni2013_2

Since I added this feature I used the different buttons many times and really felt like the whole experience was just that little bit quicker. Really pleasant.

I have lots of ideas for widgets, but like I wrote earlier, the focus is first on getting the core experience right, so I don’t want to let myself get too much distracted.

Write one yourself

If you tried the app, please write a review. Thanks!

Google Play - Idea Growr

Idea Growr usage so far

The last two months I have worked hard on Idea Growr and it now it is downloadable on Google Play. It is great to see that people are actually using it.

Google Play - Idea Growr

First let me first be super clear:

I can’t read your ideas and notes, they are only stored on your device.

You will always own everything you write in the app

So while I don’t know about what people write, I do have statistics on how the app is used. This is super valuable for me in order to improve the experience of the app. I’d like to share some of the statistics to give you and idea of how the app is doing.

New users


The bump you see in the statistics is most likely because of the link I put on Reddit in the AndroidApps section. The first two hours nobody responded or voted on the article, so I stopped paying attention and went back to coding. The next they I found out a number of people had responded and voted on it. If I had known and had responded to the comments those people have made, I guess I would have gotten more votes and feedback.

Lesson learned: Check your Reddit post every hour for the first day.

Device installs


Google offers developers of apps a console where they can do updates to the app, change the description texts and view some statistics. In another graph it is possible to view the number of uninstalls. For instance on June 8th, there where 15 uninstalls, while there where 103 installs.

Catching bugs

Google Analytics also gives reports on crashes (but it is a bit delayed). This is great, because they also give some information on what type of bug it is and where to look for in the code when I want to fix it. This helped me catch some bugs in version 1.14 that I fixed in 1.15.

Ranking in Google Play

It is unlikely the app will now show in the top 480 for Productivity. So I don’t really bother to check that, but I do check how my app does on different search words. I set up a simple spreadsheet and check every now and then on “Idea” “Ideas” and “Write idea”.

It is nice to see that for “idea”, (sort by relevance, free apps only) Idea Growr has the 53th position and last week it was around position 140, so there is growth. For the more specific “write idea” the app does great at a nice 7th spot. I am not sure if those results are different for people in different countries.

This blog post by Google Analytics promises that in the near future Google Analytics will show me this type of data so I won’t have to go and get it myself.



I did some promotion of the app on Google+ communities. As a result to using Google+ communities, I now have people using my app from all over the world. I wrote a post and put it on the Android Development community, Small Business, Internet Startups and more like those. An nice feature of Google+ is that a link to an Android app is shown with an install button, clicking it from the website will install the app on your phone. And since a lot of people on Google+ have an Android phone this is a great feature for my use case.

Do they use the app?

I believe with the right marketing you can get an app like this installed on a lot of devices, but it is not really worth the effort if people don’t use. So the next weeks I want to learn if and how people use it. The first data is looking good.

For instance on June 9, there where 34 active users (returning users). Those 34 people had an average session duration of 1:49 minutes. That feels about right for this app. That would be enough time to add an idea, take a look at another one, perhaps add a note and close the app.


I recently found out about, if you use their tracking code, they act as a platform and distribute the data to (almost) all other analytic providers. I have to research it a bit more, but I think this can be very interesting.

Some fun facts

Galaxy SIII

  • Most popular device: Samsung Galaxy SIII
  • Number of deleted ideas last week (I track the button): 8
  • The number of countries the app is used in: 49

I must say that I am very happy with the results so far. Idea Growr is probably not yet a force that Mark Zuckerberg will discuss in the next strategy meeting, but it is a global player. I am working on plans to do more serious marketing (I’ll write a separate post on that later) and if the next few weeks show that people keep using the app and enjoy the experience I think the app has a bright future ahead.

Tweaking the Google Play header

Iterating on my Google Play Header.

My first version I went for clean and simple.
With the tagline “never let a good idea go to waste”


While the app is clean and simple, I thought the header didn’t do justice to it. I wanted it to represent more creativity, to make it look a bit more fun. So I added a number of (crazy) ideas in a sketchy font.


I felt the header was a bit out of balance, and I wanted to add more color. So I centered everything and added a blue background color. I also changed the tagline to be more inline with the creative message. Also highlighting it’s most unique feature, the question sets a bit more.

So here is the header as I have it right now on Google Play.