How not to design an application for the iPhone

I recently did some work for a company on the south coast:  It was a five day project that turned into three weeks.

When the project finished, I was asked if I could create an iPad version of an iPhone application they had written for a very large proprietor and lender of DVDs, here in the UK.

I began by looking at the source code and function of the existing application and was horrified by its lack of integration into the whole iPhone experience.  There was a very small, and poorly implemented version of coverflow on the main page with a UITableView immediately below it.  If the UITableView contained content that expanded upon the selection of  the current item in the coverflow, I think it would have worked, but the two items contained no correlating information.  What I found worse, was that coverflow was the ideal presentation for this reseller and it was only used to showcase 25 items on the landing page and all other DVDs and titles were presented in a table view with no option to tilt the phone sideways to get a coverflow representation of the content.

For me, the biggest problem in the design, was the director, who was an Applephobe, taking every opportunity to slate their products without any real knowledge of their use – to be fair to him, he was not very “PC” and belittled everyone who worked for him and actually said, “c’mon play the white man”, when talking about an alarm company who wouldn’t give him discount.  When I began querying him on the design, he openly admitted that he hadn’t actually used an Apple handheld device and that he had certainly not used any other applications or Apple’s own applications to compare form and function.  True to my nature, I blurted out “I can’t believe you have designed an app without looking how other applications work on the iPhone”.  Immediately he replied that he was putting the iPad project on hold and that it would be designed “in house” – great, here I am, a paid technical resource trying to help with your products and you chose to ignore that knowledge and stick with what you know – or don’t know in this case.

Mark Twain on this matter:

All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure.
– Notebook, 1887


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