Featured Post

The Importance Of User Testing In Mobile App Development

The Importance Of User Testing In Mobile App Development   A reference tool that helps people navigate out of harms way We’ve finished user-testing and we’re about to launch our first app: a learning and reference tool that helps people navigate out of harms way by avoiding potential collisions...

Read More

Navigation safety: a quick-reference mobile app to learn the ColRegs NavLights and Shapes.

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in app development, ColRegs, educational apps, learning tool, navigation safety, Navigational apps, safety at sea, Uncategorized | Posted on 03-02-2012

1

Navigation safety Colregs NavLights Shapes

Costa Concordia Photo Credit: Europa Press on Flickr

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic this April, safety at sea remains a topical and important subject that will no doubt dominate the syllabuses of nautical qualifications like the RYA coastal skipper, day skipper and the fast track courses that exist for a growing number of professional skippers.

You know the fear

Those who have skippered at sea know the paralysing effects of an impending collision. Planes, trains and automobiles all crash and collide, yet sea collisions feel different. Somehow, they seem to happen in slow motion and that’s what makes them so tragic: a sense that they could be avoided.

The Costa Concordia this January is one such an example of an accident in which the fear that gripped the skipper was such that it stripped Captain Schettino of his ability to make informed, rational decisions. The man is well trained and experienced, yet the collision that unfolded before him and his crew paralysed him completely.

More operators, more skippers, more courses, more dangers; shorter, tougher exams 

The rapid expansion of commercial boating in the last decade coupled with the increasing demand for qualified skippers and crew has resulted in training centres running faster track courses and qualifications. On such courses, skippers are under immense time pressure (sometimes online 16 weeks) to get the knowledge. On these courses trainees struggle to learn the collision rules, forcing examiners to mark down heavily on poor knowledge or lack of application of the rules.

The need for more navigation safety 

The need for greater vigilance and regard for safety at sea is underlined in the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) Safety Digest 1/2011 where poor application and knowledge of the COLREGS  (cases 2 and 19) reinforces the need for greater knowledge and application of the rules.

ColRegs, navigation safety and why iGlimpse published the Colregs NavLights & Shapes mobile app

Navigation Safety is based almost completely on the International Maritime Organisation’s  (IMO) Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (Colregs).

Knowing that the ColRegs are difficult to learn and to put into practice we set about developing Colregs NavLights & Shapes, the first in a series of easy-to-use learning and reference tools to help skippers and crew develop a more instinctive knowledge of the rules.

For a video demonstration of the app click here.

What users say about the ColRegs NavLights & Shapes mobile app

We’re delighted with the rapid wide-spread adoptions and endorsements we’ve received from instructors and  skippers alike in what is now over 35 countries including the UK, Australia, the United States, China, Canada, Russia, Panama, New Zealand, Qatar, Turkey, Sweden the Falkland Islands.

The feedback we’ve received sums up the benefits of the app:

–  “Very easy to use, wish I’d had this when I was doing day skipper!”

–  “….excellent graphics, really first class clean design and accurate info…”

–  “Beautifully produced and very simple to use, a cool learning tool”

–  “Good app for anyone to use, especially when you are training for a Yachtmaster or Boatmaster etc.”

–  “Much easier than flip cards”

Mobile versus traditional print based resources 

As the world goes mobile, our vision is that iGlimpse Apps will sit comfortably alongside other formats and help skippers and their crew feel more confident on the sea but one advantage the mobile app has over conventional sources of information like almanacs, flip cards and books, is that it can be opened instantly, anytime, anywhere on a mobile device (iPhone, iPod Touch, Android phone) and without a mobile or internet connection.

Our next app in the series is due for publication shortly and is  Colregs Rules Of The Road

If you’d like to be notified of the release, please register for our newsletter.

To download the app for iPhone click here or to download the Android version click here. To see what the the app does in a video demo click here.

Further Reading

Wheelhouse Companion: a helpful print based resource for learning your collision regulations. It also makes a great reference book that is easy to use so you can keep it onboard.

Colregs Guide This is also a good guide, with full colour illustrations. It is useful for the novice seeking understanding and explanations, or for the professional just looking to brush up before an exam.

A Seaman’s Guide to Rule of the Road This is more of a quick reference book, and is well suited to experienced mariners looking to brush up on their knowledge.

How to improve mobile app discoverability and increase mobile app downloads

Posted by Stephen Bateman | Posted in app development, content management, cross platform, design, educational apps, Navigational apps, new product development, user experience | Posted on 11-11-2011

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1


How to Optimise Discoverability Of Mobile Apps
How to Optimise Discoverability Of Mobile Apps. Photo Credit: gadget_media Flickr

As we prepare to launch a new series of branded mobile educational applications for ocean goers, we want to put everything we can on our side to ensure our mobile application does not get lost in all the noise and our discoverability is optimised.

To help ensure greater discoverability we’ve had to have a focused approach to product marketing throughout our creative process.

From kick-off: marketing and the process of creative app development 

Before we gather around the drawing board at iGlimpse, we like to start with the analytical stuff (just as we we did when considering a new books and their viability); first we look into what kind of app types and user experiences are currently being positively reviewed. We study rankings, user reviews both in the app store and across the web and we download and play with mobile applications. This enables us to better map the functionality, building blocks, coding and plan the critical stages of development and production.

Only once we’re happy a product matches the needs of a target audience and that there is a commercial gap do we begin storyboarding and wire-framing the application screens. Only when we’re sure we’ve scoped our project fully, do we get stuck into production, applying frequent alignment meetings throughout to ensure we stay track, to make corrections and improvements, spot bugs early and stay on course to hit the milestones in our critical path plan. With testing and bugs, rewriting code is no fun at all, so we aim to get everything right from the start.

What’s our mobile application?  

Our mobile application is an educational tool that helps sailors identify the types of vessel and the activities they are engaged in at sea, as specified by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (Col Regs).

The app provides “iGlimpse” access to schemas, graphics and descriptions of the lights and shapes in the Col Regs and the rules that apply to them as well as featuring a “Test Yourself” section.

Using a single code base and a bridging mobile framework that supports 7 mobile platforms, our app will be platform-agnostic and ready for distribution in multiple stores simultaneously.

But, like new books, new music releases or new film releases, the app needs to be discoverable through search, promoted and priced correctly to ensure its sale.

Our application is launching into a crowded marketplace in which Col Regs are available in many formats including books, flashcards, videos, DVDs and apps. To stand out from the crowd our USPs are: iGlimpse access, ease of use, convenience. These elements coupled with our designer graphics will ensure people enthuse and review the app positively. Word of Mouth is probably the most important single piece of marketing we’ll achieve.

Who are our users, where do they hang out and what sails their boat? 

As well as the many existing sailors of small and larger vessels, our users include trainees on the RYA Day Skipper Courses and their trainers. There are about 155 000 new recruits annually. Our users are of mixed age / gender; they could be Apple, Android or RIM enthusiasts, they are online savvy, they like gadgets, they have disposable income and they actively seek content that helps them improve and grow in their preferred pursuits. We prefer to apply psychometric tagging rather then demographic tagging so are more interested in their likes and pain points than their income bracket or age. Outside the pressure of the Day Skipper Course and the exam, trainees read specialist sailing / motor boat magazines, they are on Twitter and Facebook, they like brands, they search on Google, YouTube, DailyMotion and VideoJug and they are hungry for material that will inspire, inform and entertain them. They also support the RNLI and attend events like the London and Southampton boat shows. London 2012 will be a big focus point for our community. Boating enthusiasts are fascinated and fearful of collisions at sea!! The metrics we’ve studied confirm all the above. Our customer persona is the best guide we have for our marketing decisions.

Routes to market

The app market is a tough and unforgiving place. The app store models are fundamentally optimized to drive pricing down and this is a hard model to build anything other than a hobby business around until you reach notoriety and critical mass.

Discoverability is a big challenge and we’re fully aware that the shelf life of an application, from a revenue earning perspective, is lower than it is for books and music. So the big question for us is: How do we get our application discovered?

We know we’ve got to enable discovery and trial so we can do three things:

  1. produce a demo video to host on YouTube and embed in social media (blogs, FB, Twitter etc) that replicates the user experience
  2. segment our product into a full ‘paid’ version and a lite ‘free’ version, so we maximise downloads and can focus on conversion to paid.
  3. we can also create a storefront around our application, where the user downloads a base application that is free, and, via an in-app purchase, we can augment that users application by adding new content or new functions.

Promotion and PR 

With so much available content we’re conscious we need to support and manage our community of enthusiasts. We’ve already found the concentrations of users which means we can target the channels they hang out in online and offline.

We know who the opinion leaders are, who the influential bloggers and press reviewers are and we’ve got the marketing content assets ready to supply when they request them. This is where the video showcasing our application and our promotion codes will seamlessly integrate with our communications.

Mistakes and assumptions we must not make: 

We must not ignore paid-for-marketing and make the mistake of thinking word of mouth on its own will drive sales – it won’t

We must not assume that sufficient enthusiasts searching searching with keywords will discover our app – they won’t

We must not forget that there are several app stores we need to be visible in

We must not leave the marketing till launch or post launch – priming our market for readiness is key

Conclusion 

The app stores can be a casino for developers but we believe our decision to publish fora clearly defined community of users means that we’re better equipped to anticipate our product marketing. We come from media backgrounds and know the value of great content. Because we are starting our marketing early, we stand a better chance (but not guarantee) of getting our app and supporting marketing materials into the hands of the opinion leaders before we launch. And we will continuously nourish, moderate, manage and maintain buzz in our verticals.

What advice do you have for ensuring better discoverability of mobile apps?