Running

You Get Out What You Put In…

You Get Out What You Put In
{Old Stuff Ends, New Stuff Starts}

No matter what you do in life, whether it’s for business or for pleasure, there’s a very real truth in the old adage that ‘you get out what you put in’, and if you put in a half-assed and half-baked effort, then what do you realistically expect to see come out the other end?

To put in the effort takes time, it takes energy, it takes commitment, but above all it takes you caring enough about something to know that it’ll all be worthwhile at the end of the process, and that the end result will be more than worth all the hard work that you put in to get to your goal.

I could literally be talking about anything, whether it’s creating an app, a website, writing a book, or to give you a very real example – running a marathon.

Back in July 2012, just some 9 short months ago, I weighed in at over 17 stone and was so unfit that running around the garden with the kids for 2 minutes would leave me out of breath and exhausted.

But then I did something stupid.

In fact, considering my weight and complete lack of fitness what I did was beyond stupid, I signed up to run the Manchester Marathon along with 4 friends.

What this did was put a timeframe on me going from an extremely overweight and unfit individual, and transform myself into a lithe, lean, mean running machine.

This was going to be hell.

So I signed up at my local gym and hit the treadmill, and I can say with hand on heart that the very first run on that treadmill was so painful and gruelling that by the end of the 3 miles (which I mainly walked) I was almost ready to apologise to the other 4 guys and tell them that I’d made a huge mistake and that I was dropping out.

But I didn’t.

I stood there in the changing rooms, with sweat pouring off my beetroot red face, t-shirt soaked and stuck to my back, looked in the mirror at my pathetic chunky reflection, and I knew there and then that this was the moment that I’d started the journey to put in what I wanted to get out.

The last 9 months of training have been very hard indeed, and after getting my general fitness levels up I moved off the treadmill, got out of the gym and started to run outside on the roads and pavements of sunny Stockport.

Over winter I had some very cold, wet, icy, and snowy conditions to deal with, and trying to motivate myself on those cold dark nights to put on my running gear and go out of the front door when there was a nice warm and comfy sofa to lie down on in front of the TV seemed almost impossible at times.

But I didn’t shirk the hard work, I put on the running gear and headed out into the cold dark night.

The Manchester Marathon is just over a week away (Sunday 28th April 2013), and since the start of my journey 9 months ago I’ve dropped a lot of weight, and to date I’ve done 87 training sessions which have covered a total 460.75 miles (153.61 miles on the treadmill, 307.14 miles on the roads).

Yes, you did read that correctly, an almost 40 year old fat boy from Manchester who couldn’t manage 2 minutes running around the garden with his kids has ground out 460.75 miles.

That is what I’ve ‘put in’.

That is why I know that when it comes to the race in a little over a week’s time I’ll get something amazingly rewarding back out.

Over the next week I have 5 more training sessions to do covering about 22 miles, so when it comes to race day I will have put in 92 training sessions and covered 482.75 miles in 9 months.

Hell, I might make one of the runs an extra 0.25 miles so I can round up to an even 483 miles 🙂

There have been many things that have spurred me on during the past 9 months, not least my family, friends, and of course the other 4 mental guys who are going to be running alongside me.

But the overriding thing that keeps spurring me on is what you have done, and what you can do.

You see, you are an important part of this process, because we’ve set ourselves a target for this crazy marathon endeavour, and that target is to raise £1,000 for a charity that is close to all our hearts – Cancer Research.

Right now we have raised a fantastic £745 towards our target, and we only need an extra £255 until we’ve reached our goal.

Please help me and the 4 other crazy idiots hit this target, help us make all this hard work worthwhile.

It doesn’t take much, as little as £5 or £10 goes a huge way towards reaching our target and helping millions of people who are blighted by this shitty disease each and every year.

If you’ve not already donated then please take 2 minutes to make a difference, here’s the link:

Donate to our Just Giving page

Please also share this blog post and the Just Giving link across all your networks, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, email your colleagues / friends / family, or even the old fashioned way of talking to people face to face.

Don’t underestimate the part you’ve played in this, by making a donation you can sit safe in the knowledge that you’ve been spurring me on to pull on my running shoes when it’s the last thing I wanted to do.

You made a difference to me, and for that I thank you with all my heart.

Here’s the link again in case you skipped over it the first time around:

Donate and make a difference

Jon Dean

Running

Cancer Is A M*therf*ck*r

There Is A Light And It Never Goes Out
{There Is A Light And It Never Goes Out}
 

OK, as blog post titles go, that’s a pretty ‘sit up and take notice’ kind of headline, but the reason I wrote it is because quite frankly I need you to sit up and take notice.

Many people reading this will either know first hand from a family member what impact cancer can have on your lives, you may have even faced cancer yourself, and many others will know a close friend, relative or colleague that has battled the disease.

In fact, whenever I talk to anyone about cancer everyone seems to at least know someone who has it, and no doubt you, dear reader, also know at least one person who has battled this disease, with some loved ones sadly succumbing and losing their fight.

I have family members who have had cancer, I have people close to me who have died from cancer, and I know that some of you reading this will have been in that exact same position – it sucks balls big time, and it makes us wonder what the fuck is wrong with this world and how we haven’t yet eradicated this nasty-ass piece of shit disease from the face of the Earth.

(If you’re offended by the strong language in that last paragraph, then I’m not sorry. My feelings are that strong that using shocking words are totally appropriate.)

There are very worthy causes fighting this battle, doing constant research and trying to find cures, but they need help to fight this disease and this year I will be helping in the fight.

No, I am not going into the medical field with a microscope and trying to find the cure. I work on a computer, I am a nerd, but I’m not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination.

The help I’ll be doing will be painful and gruelling, there will be blood, sweat and (many) tears – but the end result will far, far, far, far, outweigh any punishment I get put through.

This year (on Sunday 28th April to be precise) I will be running the Greater Manchester Marathon, and the reason I’m running it is to raise as much money as humanly possible for Cancer Research UK.

I will not be alone on my Marathon quest, I will be joined by the four O’Neill brothers (Anthony, Jamie, Mike & Jonny) in this insane venture, and the five of us will be pestering all of our many family members, friends, colleagues, and as many random people as possible on Facebook, Twitter etc.

This, my lovelies, is where you come in.

You can help without even getting out of your seat.

You don’t need to run any marathons.

You don’t need to come on any of the gruelling training sessions in the rain, sleet and snowy conditions of the North West of England.

No, all you need to do is click on the link below and make a small donation to our Just Giving page.

http://www.justgiving.com/5idiots

That’s all, just one little click and make a small donation.

It doesn’t need to be much, something as small as £5 or £10 really does make a difference, and don’t worry if you’re not in the UK because payments can be made in any currency (and if you can give more, then that’s fantastic!)

If you donate then you can go on with your lives knowing that you have done something to help countless millions of people on this planet struggling with this bastard of a disease, maybe even someone you actually know.

If you choose not to donate, then know that deep down your subconscious will be forever giving you a guilt trip (maybe, I’m not sure, it might not, but hey – why take the chance?!)

That’s all I really wanted to say, and here’s the link again with some snappy anchor text:

Yes, I Wan’t To Help Fight This Twat Of A Disease And Feel Good About Myself

Thanks for reading, and if you can reshare this blog post on Facebook, Twitter, email, word of mouth, smoke signals etc. I’d be truly grateful, because the more people we can get helping fight this disease the quicker we can wipe it off the face of the planet.

Jon Dean

Web

My End Of Year Rant

Happy New Year
{Happy New Year}

As another year comes to a close and a brand new year is about to dawn, here’s a few words, whether they’re wise or not is a matter of interpretation, but please take a quick read of them and decide for yourself.

Only spend time on the activities that move your business forwards in 2013, and cut out those which use up big chunks of your time but produce nothing of value for your business in return.

Spend less time talking the talk in forums, Twitter, Facebook etc. and actually walk the walk in the real world.

If you’re spending 100% of your time talking about what you’re planning on doing, or spending all your spare time helping others achieve their success, then when the hell are you going to find the time to actually build and grow your business and succeed yourself?

I’m not saying don’t help out others, or only help those who can give you a leg up in return, but in order to make your business a success (especially in today’s harsh economy) you need to be staying laser-focused on moving your business forwards.

So spend more time cultivating relationships with the people who really matter, people who can move you forward in your area of expertise, people in your market & niche.

Above all: provide value, provide value, provide value.

Don’t sweat the small stuff or get lost in the minutiae, there’s a bigger picture you need to keep in mind, so keep working towards it and carve a path towards it without worrying about all of the inconsequential shite that invariably surrounds us and tries to derail us off our path.

Ignore the voice inside that tells you that you can’t do it, or that you’re going to fall flat on your face.

And just as important, ignore any voices on the outside telling you the same thing.

If you do fail or take a tumble, then you get back up and keep on keepin’ on, the adversity will make you stronger and wiser, there’s always a lesson to be learned.

Ignore the haters, there’s a block button on Facebook and Twitter for a reason!

Don’t get dragged into the negativity and bile that is to be found in blog comments, forums and other social media around the interwebs. It’s a waste of your time and energy and absolutely nothing can come from it which will help you move forwards.

Getting involved with trolls and haters will depress you and may even break you, so block them from your life, remove them from your conversations, and move on.

Some random shithead spewing bile on the Internet doesn’t matter, they’re never gonna be turned into your biggest fan, so save your energy for the people that do really matter.

Also, don’t be that random shithead. If you don’t like product x or service y then move on. Bitching about it, or starting a flame war with someone else online about it just makes you look like a tool.

Nobody remembers who was right when two people argue on the Internet, they just remember that two people acted like dicks, so don’t be a dick. Take the higher ground and spend the time you would have wasted by moving your business forwards.

In 2013 there are 365 days available to you, it’s totally down to you on how you spend those days.

You can spend them doing stuff that won’t help you, stuff that will move others forwards while you’re procrastinating your ass off, or you can use that time to good effect.

Well, that kind of turned into a bit of a rant quite quickly, and then went downhill from there, but hopefully you’ve seen the point I was trying to make 😉

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below, and above all have a good New Year people of the interwebs, I’ll see you in 2013!

Jon Dean

Apps Web

Why I’m Disappointed With The iPad Mini Launch

Chill Out And Have A Beer
{Chill Out & Have A Beer}

I don’t know why, but I’m always a little dismayed whenever a new ‘i’ product is launched – whether it’s a new iPhone, iPad, iMac etc.

Now, I’m not dismayed because of the product, far from it, I’m dismayed at the reactions all over the web.

These reactions are from supposed “educated” people.

Really?! Educated?!

These are people arguing and bitching on the web about A *PHONE (*tablet/laptop etc).

Who gives a stuff whether the iPhone or Galaxy S3 has a bigger screen, or which patents were ripped off from one another?

Who cares if the iPad Mini is slightly larger than an Android tablet but slightly smaller than a full sized iPad?

Do these issues really mean that much of a big deal to you that you get ridiculously emotionally attached to an electronic device?

People seem to forget that there’s consumer choice, and that they can easily vote on what they prefer with their wallets.

You don’t need to post mindless comments on tech blogs about ‘how Apple is actually unoriginal and tablets were around way before the iPad’ or ‘how much more ‘open’ Android is over iOS’, or ‘how much more malware there is on Android devices’… Yada, yada, yada.

If you don’t like Apple products then don’t buy them.

If you don’t like Android products then don’t buy them.

But please for the love of {insert mythical deity of choice here} stop moaning about a friggin’ phone and just get on with the far more important business of enjoying your lives.

One of the other things that disappoints me is the so called ‘experts’ on tech blogs banging on about how Apple aren’t being more innovative and the new iPad (or iPhone) is dead and Apple are on the way down ‘now that Steve’s gone’, only to be proved completely wrong once the shipping figures come out.

If these people are the ‘experts’ how can they get this stuff so consistently wrong on every single launch?

I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that a negative headline about the world’s most successful tech company draws in thousands of page views and they can sell advertising on their sites based on those visitor stats.

No, it’s probably not that at all…

OK, that’s my rant over, enjoy your weekend people 😉

Jon Dean

Apps

It’s Not All Doom And Gloom

{Rainy Days}

I read quite a lot of tech blogs, and in particular ones that focus on app development and the app ecosystem, and there’s a topic out there which people always seem to harp on about – making apps for all devices.

Now, this is something I completely disagree with.

I believe that products have a shelf life, even digital ones, and making apps for the older and obsolete systems won’t help the industry going forward.

I know that there will be some people reading this saying “but my customers want this, so I’m going to provide this for my customers”. I understand that argument, I really do, but I disagree with it.

Just because there may be a vocal few who are demanding something, doesn’t necessarily make them right. You have to do what’s best for your business in the long run, and keeping supporting the older systems won’t allow you to focus on producing new stuff going forwards, as you’ll be constantly firefighting and providing fixes for older systems.

Anyone who’s had to build a website and has come up with the older Internet Explorer issues will know exactly what I’m talking about.

I also don’t subscribe to the view that if you’re only developing for a single device or app store that you’re “leaving money on the table”. Sometimes trying to support multiple formats takes up so much time that the cost of doing that piece of business far outweighs the benefits.

This of course is entirely down to what you’re able to fund or how much time it takes you to personally do, but don’t assume that only providing an Apple app that spending 100 hours trying to cobble together an Android app, or an alternative enhanced PDF of your product, will provide any monetary benefit.

When it comes down to building for older devices, please don’t think that I’m unsympathetic to the customer’s side of the story, because I can fully empathise with them.

A case in point – I currently own an iPad 1, and on a daily basis most of the apps I have running on my iPad 1 crash and I have to close down all the apps which are currently in the background to free up memory on the device (especially Safari, it really is a memory hog!)

This isn’t just a few apps, it’s loads of them: Sky Sports, Sky News, BBC News, Lego Harry Potter, Flipboard, Zite, Words With Friends, Draw Something, Song Pop, a couple of MagCast titles, about 10 other non-MagCast titles in the Newsstand, BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, Angry Birds, Angry Birds Space… I could go on, but you get the picture.

Are these constant crashes the fault of the developers? Should they be forced to constantly cut down on all the new goodies that Apple pack in the latest versions on the iOS so that the iPad 1 doesn’t fall over when you’re trying to read a page in a magazine?

The answer (IMHO) is no.

Whether you or I like it, the iPad 1 is an old machine that will soon be obsolete.

Yes, I did say obsolete.

I know that the iPad 1 is only a couple of years old, and I know it cost a lot of money when you bought it, but the tech has moved on quickly (both hardware and software) and it’s no longer able to support the apps being released.

Apple know this, and to prove the point that they’re not shy about killing off older products, when iOS 6 ships next month it won’t be supported on the iPad 1.

This will no doubt disappoint a load of people in the next few months after iOS 6 is released when they’re trying to download apps on their older iPads to be greeted with the message “app not supported on this device”, but times move on and older technology dies.

I’m not sure if one day we’ll look back at these days with the same nostalgia with older machines that we grew up with, but I guess time will tell.

But I urge anyone looking at releasing an app to look forward at all the great developments coming up, and not try and fudge fixes for older tech that will be gone in a years time.

Anyways, that’s just my humble opinion, and feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Jon Dean

Apps

A Nice Surprise

{The Bar Tricks App}

I built an app for the iPhone / iPad a few months ago, and it was purely as a teaching exercise inside of The Immediate Edge.

As part of the training we decided to release the app with no big marketing push and no promotions so that we could see what kind of response we actually got.

Surprisingly the app started off quite well, mainly due to it being featured in the #1 spot in the Entertainment category’s New & Noteworthy section (which also put us into the iTunes Free App chart as we had a bunch of downloads), but after a couple of weeks the app was no longer ‘new’ so it slipped out of that section and the downloads began to drop.

Since then the app keeps appearing right up in the ‘What’s Hot’ section which has the nice effect of boosting downloads, and as a result means that the Bar Tricks app has now been downloaded over 12,000 times.

I’m not blowing my own trumpet, but the app is actually quite decent. This is reflected in the 5-star (67) and 4-star ratings (8) we’ve got so far, and if you read the reviews left by the customer’s then you’ll see that they’re all positive.

Although we built this as a free app for a training exercise, the thing that’s been an added bonus is that both me and Dan Raine have gained some valuable insights into app performance depending on where it’s featured in the app store.

If you’ve not checked out yet then why not download the Bar Tricks App for the iPhone and iPad and see what all the fuss is about…

Jon Dean

Geek

What Can We Learn From Jar Jar Binks?

{Cartoon: Ash Lee}
Today is May 4th, which amongst a vast set of nerds across the planet is more commonly known as ‘Star Wars Day’.

This got me on a train of thought about Star Wars, which then led to a wider train of thought about other stuff on the t’interwebs, and then to business in general.

You see, if you’re one of the original Star Wars fans, and by that I mean that you’re on of the ones born in the 70’s and the original three films of Star Wars (A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, then you’re also probably one of those fans that despairs at what George Lucas did with the release of the prequel trilogy.

These people I’m talking about have a deep seated hate of Jar Jar Binks. They might even own a ‘Han Shot First’ T-shirt.

Then I saw something recently which made me sit up and think.

I was watching my kids (Jake & Lily) watching Episode 1: Phantom Menace, and when Jar Jar Binks entered the movie they started laughing out loud.

They love Jar Jar Binks.

They think that Jar Jar is one of the best characters, and throughout the film they enjoyed every moment he was on the screen.

And that’s when a thought hit me – it’s not for me.

George Lucas already had me (and countless millions of other kids born in the 70s) hooked on Star Wars, the new prequel movies were to tap into a whole new generation, with the overall aim of selling more merchandise to a fresh market.

This might sound cynical, but it’s the truth.

When I was a kid I owned a ton of Star Wars figures, I had the Millennium Falcon, an X-Wing Fighter, Boba Fett’s ship (Slave I) and loads of other smaller bits and bobs.

The original market for Star Wars merchandise was drying up, with only the die-hard collectors looking for stuff to complete their collections, and a lot of this on the secondary markets of eBay and other auction sites.

The original market drying up isn’t exactly a surprise, as the majority of people get rid of their toys as they grow up, and although they remain nostalgic for the films they’re not exactly going to pop out and buy a new Luke Skywalker action figure if it hits the shelves.

But by creating the new prequel trilogy George Lucas had in effect created a fresh market to sell the merchandise to.

Of course, all the original fans would go and watch the films, and with many of them now being parents would be taking their kids along as well.

I’ve no doubt that George Lucas new that he’d be pissing off a huge element of the existing fan base with the new movies, and the backlash online over Jar Jar Binks is proof in point, but I also have no doubt that he did it because he new that to keep the machine moving forward he needed to cultivate a whole fresh market to sell to over the next 10 – 15 years.

Just for the record on where I stand – Jar Jar is an abomination and Han shot first.

However, it’s not for me and my kids love the movies, so what the hell do I know…

Jon Dean

Apps

Pavlov’s Apps

{Cartoon: Doug Savage}
I put out a tweet earlier this week where I expressed my dismay at an app review I’d seen where the reviewer was disappointed that they were paying for an app.

In fact, what I actually said was this: “Why is it that people happily spend $500 on a new iPad, but then post an app store review moaning about the $0.99 price tag for an app?!”

The responses to the tweet were interesting, with some people commenting that possibly it was the app that was crappy, or some which were saying that after paying the $500 price tag for the device then the apps should be free.

Just to clarify, the app was Angry Birds (the original one, not the new Space app, which is fantastic BTW), so not exactly a crappy app (IMHO), and as far as expecting the apps to be free after purchasing the device, I think that’s a highly unrealistic expectation – I mean, just because you buy a Steven King novel it doesn’t mean you can get all of JK Rowlings back catalogue for free.

Personally, I think it’s because we’ve all been conditioned (just like Pavlov’s dogs, who were trained to salivate at the sound of a bell ringing) to expect that an app should cost no more than the $0.99 price point, and I think over the long term that this isn’t a good thing.

I’m sure that last point will be a contentious issue for some of you, because more often than not we all want to get the best value for money we can in anything we choose to buy.

The problem I see is that the $0.99 price point might eventually signal the death knell for the really good indie developers out there, who simply won’t be able to cover their costs because of the low price point and the flood of, quite frankly, shitty apps that come onto the app store each and every day.

Unfortunately for every Draw Something, there are 100 crappy apps which aren’t worth even the price of ‘free’.

I put ‘free’ in single quotes there, because these apps are rarely free, they’re either ad supported or they have some in-app purchase (IAP) which is a fundamental requirement to complete the game (so a hidden cost in the app).

I don’t disagree with ad supported or IAP, and think that they are beneficial and worthwhile if they’re done properly.

I’m fine with IAP if the app asking for it actually gives you the option of completing the game if you put in the work (so the IAP is in effect a short cut you can buy to help with the game, but not a necessity to complete the game).

Games like Angry Birds and Draw Something make a bucket load of cash from the $0.99 price point, but they are the exceptions, the majority of the decent games made by indie developers don’t get the same traction and don’t get the same levels of downloads to gain the vital income they need to keep running their studio.

I would quite happily pay $4.99 for Angry Birds (or a decent indie game), I know that it’s given me countless hours of fun, it’s got decent graphics, decent soundtrack, good gameplay, and it’s not just me that’s got the benefit from it either – my kids have spent a good chunk of time enjoying playing it as well.

I just wish there was a better app discovery element in the iTunes app store, and I wish the customers would leave better reviews – you know, actually REVIEWING the app, rather than moaning about the price. If it’s a crappy app, then post a proper review and say WHY it’s a bad app, then I can make an informed choice.

Simply posting a review and moaning about having to hand over $0.99 is pointless, and often the reviews tend to overspill into abuse and nonsense, rather than being helpful and worthwhile.

It bemuses me that people leave these types of reviews on something which costs so little, especially considering that these same people will go and spend maybe $3 on a sub-standard coffee from Starbucks without giving that purchase a seconds thought.

Where’s the perspective?

I think Charlie Brooker pretty much nailed the point I so hopelessly tried to get across in my tweet:

“Look at the App Store. Read the reviews of novelty games costing 59p. Lots of slaggings – which is fair enough when you’re actively warning other users not to bother shelling out for something substandard. But they often don’t stop there. In some cases, people insist the developers should be jailed for fraud, just because there weren’t enough levels for their liking. I once read an absolutely scathing one-star review in which the author bitterly complained that a game had only kept them entertained for four hours.

FOUR HOURS? FOR 59P? AND YOU’RE ANGRY ENOUGH TO WRITE AN ESSAY ABOUT IT? ON YOUR EXPENSIVE IPHONE? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?”

I think we’ve come too far down the road to reverse the pricing on the app store, we’ve been conditioned almost from the launch of the app store, and now we’re moving into the ‘freemium’ model (free app, IAP & ad supported), but I honestly think this will result in lower quality games & apps coming thru.

I know many of you will heartily disagree, and I’m happy for you to tell me as much in the comments below 😉

Jon Dean

Life

Moobs, Training Bras and Tracking

{I Got The Moobs Like Jabba!
Sticker On Sale at RedBubble.com}
Over the past few weeks I’ve really been stepping up my workouts and sticking pretty rigidly to a set meal plan in order to try and shed a few pounds.

Now, when I say ‘step up’ my workouts, I’ve actually been doing 45 minutes of cardio work each day in the gym last week, and the previous week I was doing 30 minutes per day.

Imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scales this Sunday to find out that I’ve lost a grand total of 1lb.

One f#*king pound!!

But, this isn’t a bad thing…

This is because when people do this sort of tracking they only ever look at weight loss, which is only part of the overall goal, it’s not the only goal.

You see, as well as tracking my weight loss, I’ve also been taking measurements to track my inch loss across the key areas of my body.

The overall goal of the change is to not only lose weight, but to also lose inches.

So with this in mind I’ve been measuring my neck, biceps, chest, naval, hips and thighs, so that I can see the changes in my body as well as the numbers on the scales each week.

This week I’ve actually not just lost 1lb in weight, but I’ve also lost 1.5 inches of fat off my body.

If I’d not been measuring the inch loss then it would be only too easy to think that the workouts and eating more healthily were having bollocks all effect, when in fact they were doing exactly what they should be doing.

The lack of weight loss in that last week was more probably down to the fact that I had lost fat, but the increase in workouts had probably built a small amount of muscle tissue, which weighs more than fat.

The moral here is that if I wasn’t looking at the proper goal (to lose weight and inches) then I would have got disheartened and phoned for a pizza, but because I was measuring myself I find I’ve lost half an inch off my tummy and a full inch off my ‘moobs’ – which means I’ll finally stop looking like an under-developed teenager and finally get out of this A-cup training bra…

Now although this post seems to have been about my ongoing battle with the evil forces of pizza, it has in fact been about making sure that when you’re tracking something, that you make sure you’re looking at the right things, and keeping the right end-goals in mind.

For example, if you’re trying to run a website and generate sales from an affiliate product (or your own product) that you’re promoting, then tracking the number of back links you know you’ve built but can’t find in Google Webmaster Tools or Majestic SEO is not the right thing to track.

The right things to track are if your link building efforts have moved your site up the search rankings, if the links and better search rankings have driven more traffic, then if that traffic has converted into clicks to the product and actual sales.

Don’t get disheartened, just make sure you’re tracking the right things in the first place, and then take action on the right things to move you from point A to point B.

Jon Dean

Apps Web

Copying, Iteration & Testing

Angry Birds
{Look Out Below Pigs!}

I was reading this article in a game development magazine the other day, and the guy who was being interviewed (Mike Simpson) said this:

“All you get from copying is proof that the idea can be made to work, not that it will actually work in the context of your game and implementation. There are some real risks with cut and paste. It’s far too tempting, for example, to pull in ideas from whatever masterpiece you’ve just played.”

This made me automatically think of not just the people churning out games in the app store, but also of all those people on the interwebs who are trying to start out with their internet business, throwing up a single page of content modelled on something they’ve seen somewhere, and then complaining to high heaven that you can’t ‘make money on the internet’ because their thing has completely bombed.

I’m sure all the people reading this right now (all three of you) have no doubt met this person in a forum somewhere, and when you scratch the surface of their problem you tend to find that they haven’t actually ‘made it’ because they’ve simply not put the work in.

It’s easy to copy, but it’s not necessarily easy to make a success of it.

As Mike Simpson succinctly put it: “…not that it will actually work in the context of your {game}…” {insert your niche of choice here instead of the word ‘game’}.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t look at what’s working out there in other games (or in other niches if we’re talking about websites), and see if those elements will work in the context of whatever you’re trying to produce.

But the key to making it a success is to actually put the work in, and then once you’ve put the work in you need to test those things you’re looking at copying to see if it will actually work in the context of your niche (or game).

I see so many people get deflated and take it as a personal insult when they throw something up on the web and it doesn’t become the glittering success story that they’ve got planned inside their head.

People see others ‘making it’ and think that all it takes is a few things, and the rest will take care of itself.

Sorry to tell you this, but if that’s what you’re thinking, then you’re only going to be disappointed.

Take Angry Birds…

Angry Birds is arguably the most successful game on the app store, it’s spawned a load of offline merchandise, and the guys behind it are making ridiculous amounts of money.

But Angry Birds wasn’t their first game, it wasn’t even their second game.

In fact, it was their 53rd attempt at a game, and the other 52 were not the stellar successes that Angry Birds has become.

Moral of this story is that you’re not going to just jump on the app store, or even throw up a website in a niche, and make millions overnight.

Success in any of these mediums takes a lot of hard work, a lot of testing, a lot of iterations to refine what’s working and what’s not working, and then it takes a bit more hard work.

Copying won’t get you anywhere, but taking a ‘known quantity’ might cut down on your development time, as you can take something you know works and then test it in your context to see if it will work for you.

If it works then keep it, if it doesn’t then don’t be afraid to kill it dead and move on.

The key is to test, and then to make the tough decisions to cut it, and then move on and test the next thing – it’s an ongoing cycle, and something you need to keep on doing in order to move to the next level.

Jon Dean