Joel Eggenhuizen is a young ambitious Australian guy with a passion for developing iPhone apps. Having produced Our Secrets, a unique and anonymous secret sharing app we really wanted to chat to Joel and find out how it all came about, his experiences as a first time developer and Apple’s support in the development process – read this interview, it is forthright, honest and downright interesting!
Hi Joel, thank you for taking time out to talk with us, can you tell our readers how your app, Our Secrets, was orginally thought of, what were your thoughts behind the marketplace, specifically?
Sure Joanne, about a year ago, I had ten ideas for applications written down and story boarded. I am always thinking of App ideas and I jot them down in the notes app. The funny thing is, Our Secrets was not one of these initial ideas. In my time as a developer I have produced and released two apps and Our Secrets was the second one. I learnt a lot in my first app development and so Our Secrets came to life a lot easier.
A quarter way through my first Apps development, I had a couple of personal issues in my life and couldn’t really tell anyone about them. I started scouring the App Store and found a really simple secret sharing app – it was free. I downloaded it and found that whilst it let you share a secret, that was all it did. It was pretty much featureless. So I thought I can do better and invested my time in creating Our Secrets, although that name didn’t come through straight away, I went through ‘Secret Shared’, ‘Secret Sharer’ and just plain ‘Secrets’.
I did some mock ups to get my brain thinking of how I wanted the App to work, my first initial concept in August 2009 (above) and whilst it is crued, it kicked the whole thing off for me really well. I think it’s really amazing to see how it changes from the concept to the final product.
Joel, can you tell us how you came up with the colors and themes ideas for Our Secrets?
I have completed multimedia and business marketing at University and have always found graphic design a relaxing pastime for me. As you can see from the initial storyboard, the design changed a lot. When I begin a project, I find that until I get a prototype working its hard to work out the details of the application including the design. I went through quite a few variations before I was happy with the look and feel.
The initial design was very basic and really did not look right, although it had the basic features I wanted, I really had no desire to use the app. So I opened up my favourite image editor and went to town on mocking up some more designs now that I knew how the app would work, which helped a lot.
Above is the Evolution of the design for Our Secrets. Again, the changes are significant. Being an independant developer I found it hard to get my design perfect straight away.
My priorities were really to get the processes in app correct and then perfect the look and feel.
Who do you see as the main target market for this App?
There are three types of people using this app, those who like to read and comment on other people’s secrets and those who have something they need or want to share and of course there is a mix of both.
I designed Our Secrets to suit users who like to get involved in conversations as well as for those who want to share something they feel they can’t tell anyone else. Being anonymous, people really seem to open up using Our Secrets.
How do you view your sales, is there a good solid market for this style of app?
I was quite pleased with the initial take up of Our Secrets. My biggest challenge was ensuring I got onto the latest releases page of the App Store, which I managed to do. It gave me the exposure I needed to kick off the app.
Our Secrets is unique because it not only allows the sharing of secrets, it lets you comment on and rate them. It also lets you view them through various i.e by number of comments, or date shared etc. So yes there is a solid market for this Application.
What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome regarding this app development, Joel?
The whole process end to end of creating an App is quite intense.
Coming home after working 8 hours in my day job and staying up late every night would have been the hardest thing. I learnt a lot in the development of the app but lucky for me I really enjoyed doing it. So it kind of cancels that out.
If I had to pick a second biggest challenge with Our Secrets, it would be getting the look of the ‘read a secret’ dialog correct. As you can see above, I went through quite a few designs before I got it right.
Would you consider developing apps for third parties?
I would, but getting paid for your time in developing the app isn’t enough. In my experience it is only worth it if you have an on going agreement for a percentage of the sales.
A couple of my friends have run some ideas by me and they are learning fast that many have thought of it before them. But if a good idea comes up I’ll definitely consider teaming up.
What have you learnt from the App Store since you launched your app?
From a development perspective, researching as much as I could about the App Store submission process really helped me immensely.
From a business owner’s viewpoint, the biggest challenge is selling your app. The App Store has over 90,000 apps at the moment and it’s growing every day, so you really need to include your marketing plan at the beginning of development, not post development.
Joel, what about Apple, have they supported you well with your app?
Joanne, When I first signed up as a developer, I had a few issues with my banking details as I’m based in Australia. Apple were actually very responsive on the many issues I had and they were resolved fast.
This is the only support I needed from Apple as there are many resources on the net for App development.
I strongly believe Our Secrets boasts the high standards Apple are known for in their products. Our Secrets has great features in a clean interface.
What next, are you developing another app? Would you go for the same genre again, if not which?
I have a few ideas up my sleeve and plan on continuing development in Early 2010.
I plan on moving into the Utilities and Gaming categories. I feel I have a great understanding of what to include and most importantly what not to include in my apps.
Thank you Joel for this really informative interview. We wish you much success in the future. Joanne