Flappy Bird creator pulls app: some people don’t have the bottle

So, Dong Nguyen – the guy behind the insanely popular mobile game Flappy Bird, pulled the app which was reportedly making him $50,000 a day in advertising revenue.

It’s not totally clear why he took it down, he tweeted simply saying He “can’t take it anymore”. It would seem that the “it” he is referring to is severely negative feedback and even online death threats. For any budding app developer out there, or any creative for that matter, realise one thing:

Once you release something into the public domain, it’s not yours anymore. And people will be vicious.

I can’t claim to have had anywhere near the level of attention Flappy Bird has received but my app Hipster CEO has sold over 7,000 copies and I’ve received many, many angry emails about bugs and general game mechanics. Hell, in pre-launch marketing someone even told me that they “hope I die” when I pretended to give away the finale to Breaking Bad.

The web is a mean place and people generally type before they think. Best advice? Don’t pay attention. I don’t read reviews or news stories about Hipster CEO (and it’s not hugely popular anymore so that’s not difficult) and I like to think I’ve grown a skin thick enough to withstand any email abuse I may get.

If you don’t think you can do the same you need to seriously consider your future as a professional creative.

Quick HTML/CSS tip: cannot set the height on your select dropdown elements?

Right, so I spent several hours yesterday trying to figure out why I couldn’t adjust the height on my HTML form select elements. I was utterly bamboozled after stripping out all inherited CSS and playing around with the web inspector. The problem?

You can’t adjust the height of a select element if it has no border.

There’s probably a very good reason for this but my gripe is that it’s not visibly apparent that the select dropdown is borderless in the first place.

Anyway, hopefully this will save someone a little time further down the road.

 

What’s your anchor?

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After launching a product, you’ll likely be inundated with feature (and support) requests. There will be features that tons of people ask for, others not so much.

The big reactions come when you make an update to your product, though. I get contacted on a daily basis by people who say my latest game is too hard. Others say it’s too easy. Some say it has a good UI, others say its really unintuitive.

It’s super important to have an anchor when faced when all this feedback is trying to pull you in different directions. An anchor in this case is an ideal that gives the good ship Startup the ability to take on the storm of this (sometimes vitrolic!) feedback.

The anchoring ideals for my app, Hipster CEO, are (in priority):

  1. Does this change improve the player’s understanding of how a real startup works?
  2. Does this change improve the overall app experience?

Like most things in life, these two questions are subjective so some expertise needs to be applied.

I’d encourage you, before you even begin building an app, to consider your anchors. Some good ones:

  • Does this change add value that people would pay more money for?
  • Will this feature be used by 80% or more of our customers?
  • Does this change come at the expense of another key feature?
  • Does this affect our main goal or key message?

When your business has a core belief then decision making gets a whole lot easier.

Where Snapchat’s value truly lies

My buddy Ed (@ClearPreso) recently wondered on Twitter what the real draw was on Snapchat and believes it just a flash in a pan technology. I wouldn’t blame him for making this assertion but I think he (like most people) doesn’t see it’s true value.

Some “experts” believe it lies in the push and hold requirement: “If your thumb is pressed against the screen, it’s very likely that you’re staring at what’s in front of you.”. Well, duh. But guess what? Sites like Forbes and JOE.ie put an ad right in front of me at the start too and I just skip it.

If Snapchat users don’t want to see ads then they won’t open them.

I’d probably open the messages I’d get from the likes of Heineken – companies that produce great ads, basically, who have solved the attention-grabbing dilemma by being creative (who’d have thought that would work!?).

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Yahoo and the curated web

It’s been a hectic 18 months that Marissa Mayer has spent in charge at Yahoo. Dodgy workplace restrictions aside, the company seems to be looking towards the future in light of the acquisitions made. So much so, I’m betting that in five years time Yahoo will be an ever present in our online lives just like Twitter/Facebook. Here’s why:

Yahoo is positioning itself in the centre of the curated web.

Obviously, I think the internet is great – it’s changed our lives faster (and possibly more) than any other technology has. Trouble is: there is a ton of noise. De-cluttering your web experience is a skill in itself. I’m not just talking about your social streams; I’m talking about news sites, shopping recommendations, etc. As a geek I’m able to figure out how to lower the noise pretty well (or, in the worst case, cancel an account altogether – I’m looking at you, Google+) but your average Joe Soap ain’t no nerd.

The web is still a really young technology that we’re only beginning to figure out and up until about now it’s generally been geared towards quantity over quality. This is fine for teenagers or anyone with a lot of time on their hands but adults generally want to cut to the meat and bones of what’s happening or what they’re looking for. Enter: the curated web.

The difference between today’s web and the curated web is quality – and this is where I beliebe Yahoo is going to nail it.

Facebook is a great place to see friends’ photos but they’re mostly lousy pictures. Flickr is generally used by professionals or amateur photography enthusiasts which guarantees a higher quality. Since Mayer joined, Yahoo is turning Flickr around.

Twitter rules. It’s great for connecting with people and viewing shared articles but sometimes I prefer to read the traditional news. Unfortunately, the best news sites are generally geared to the long-form which means that it’s hard to absorb the gist of an article by reading five or ten lines. Basically, I want quality and brevity and recent Yahoo acquisition Summly does just that.

In addition to these, Yahoo has bought up a raft of social recommendation services which means their very keen to learn about what blows your hair back.

At a time where most web companies are trying to get you to spend as long on their site as possible, Yahoo’s USP is giving you just (and only just) what you need in a faster way.

Should be an interesting 48 months.