The recent FOWA Dublin event, held by the Carsonified team was a fantastic day, with great speakers providing lots of very useful information on web applications and development.
Web App Survival Tips (by Ryan Carson from Carsonified)
The day started with some tips from the man himself based on their experience in building DropSend web application.
- Billing & Invoicing (e.g. don’t bother building your own billing system, save time and use an existing one)
- Marketing - get marketing your product early - create a buzz
- Usability testing - very important!
- Selling your web app
Eoghan McCabe & Des Traynor from Contrast gave a very engaging presentation on Web Conventions, including looking at page layouts, best practices, building software vs. building websites.
Robin Christopherson from Ability.net (a UK charity) showed us how inaccessible some websites can be and how frustrating this is for users with disabilities.
He estimated that about 10% of the population have some sort of impairment in accessing the web e.g. reading/writing difficulties, age related conditions, blindness, dyslexia etc. so as web designers/developers, we need to bear this in mind when creating web sites/apps.
Robin mentioned Aria (Accessible Rich Internet Application Suite) - which is definitely something worth learning about if you are designing with accessibility in mind.
To see an example of a web site designed in Flash - Robin recommended checking out JK Rowling’s official website.
How to Build Amazing Web Apps - Lessons learned from building Twitter.com
Next up was Blaine Cooke - an ex developer from Twitter. He forsees richer integration between social networking sites e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr. Some sites he recommended reviewing include:
This well-received talk was definitely aimed at web developers, but unfortunately, being a mere web designer, I was a bit lost on Ruby and Rails etc. so can’t do Emma’s talk justice here, but the feedback given by web developers in the audience was that she knew her stuff!
€10,000 Prize for Best Business Plan for a Web App
Morgan McKeagney from IQ Content surprised even Carsonified with their announcement of a prize for the best business plan for a web app. This is your chance to win €10,000 - no strings attached, if you have the winning business plan for a web app.
How to Build Desktop Apps that Help Your Web App Succeed
Matthew Ogle from Last.fm gave a great insight into how Last.fm works, privacy issues relating to desktop applications and also explained how to make money from web apps. Some sites worth looking at include:
- Tripit.com - Online travel itinerary and planner
- Dopplr.com - online service for smarter travel
- Adobe Air - for building rich internet applications
- Google Gears - A Firefox and Internet Explorer extension that allows to navigate on compatible websites offline and synchronise when going back online
- Songbird - Open source music player
- Last.fm Boffin - generates tag clouds of your music collection
Web Application Horror Stories
Now this was a scary talk! Simon Willison filled us in on some useful tips and things developers should be aware of e.g.:
- Always set a character set.
- Don’t use crossdomain.xml - see Adobe website for more info
Start-ups Pitch their Ideas - in 120 Seconds!
Three people got the chance to pitch their web apps to a panel of judges. This was a great idea as we got to see how best to present your web app pitch (always state what your web app is about), if you have a website for it - put this up on the screen!
The pitch that stood out for me the most (and I think for the panel too) was - one by Robin Blandford, from ByteSurgery.com, on their Decisions for Hereos application. This is just such a great idea - rescue teams can file reports via web and mobile and the information gathered can really help in future rescues. Plus there is the added bonus that the stats gathered can be sold to insurance companies. So this is a real example of a web app with the ability to make money! Very inspiring.
David Heinemeier Hansson (37 Signals)
Finally, David Heinemeier Hansson from 37 Signals gave a fantastic talk on setting up a web app company.
Overall, it was a really great event, well worth checking out if Carsonified come back to Dublin - or if you are able to make it to any of the other FOWA/Carsonified events being held - I highly recommend it.