Archive for October, 2011

Competitions, books and prizes – oh my!

That’s right, we’re running a competition at the moment over at our Facebook page. So we thought we’d let our blog readers know about it too! The concept is simple – the turtle and dolphin you see in the image to the left are currently anonymous – that is, we don’t yet have names for them.

So, that’s where you come in! We’re looking for name suggestions for both of these sea creatures. And the best two suggestions for both the turtle and the dolphin will win a copy of our first MiBooks kids interactive book, Barnyard Mystery. To get involved, either click on the image to the left, or click here to jump across to our Facebook page.

Some more Coastal Quest teasers

A week or so ago we posted a short demo video of our new MiBooks ‘choose your own adventure’-style kids book, Coastal Quest. Here’s a brief synopsis…

Coastal Quest takes you on a trip to the beach with your family and best friend, and when you get there you decide to go exploring. Along the way you meet plenty of interesting characters at 10 different locations (including the pier, surf, shipwreck, coral reef, rockpools and caves) as you attempt to help a sea creature who has got himself caught in a fishing net. At the beginning of the book, enter your name and YOU become the central character in the book, and at certain points during the story, YOU get to decide where to go next!

But video is only so good at portraying how good Coastal Quest is going to look. So, we present, some early graphic teasers for you..


We’ll be releasing more details (and announcing some Coastal Quest related competitions) both here, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Talent acquisition is a global concept

If we look thirty years into the past, when employers were looking for new employees, they usually did so through either word of mouth or by placing a classified ad in the newspaper. While both those methods are still used today, and are still just as effective, they are not the always the best method for acquiring talent.

For our MiBooks kids books, we had the resources in-house to author the books, structure the books, and illustrate the books. The problem was that we didn’t have the resources to get those books onto the iOS platform, so that people with iPhones and iPads could download the book to their device. Now, we could’ve quite easily placed an ad on a job board or in a newspaper along the lines of “iPhone developer wanted for coding, awesomeness”, and it would’ve got us a bunch of responses. However, as a small business, we weren’t looking to hire someone full time for this position, and looking back now, the resource pool for iPhone developers locally in Australia is actually quite shallow.

So, we asked ourselves the question: what’s stopping us from recruiting someone in another country? More specifically, what’s stopping us from recruiting someone in another country on a temporary, or freelance, basis? Well, nothing. We ended up placing a job request on a large freelance job board, and received roughly 30-50 responses. After doing the requisite sorting and shortlisting, and contacting the freelancers themselves individually, we came to a decision and selected a freelance developer.

Now, this process may not suit everyone, and it does have some drawbacks. For small or start-up businesses, freelancers or ‘temps’ are a worthwhile investment, but for larger businesses, it may be better to hire someone on a more permanent basis, simply because the workload may warrant it. There’s also the issue of communication, because despite how good your English skills are, the freelancer’s may not be as polished and your idioms and colloquialisms may be misunderstood. Then there’s the physical distance and time distance between you and the freelancer, which may lead to some late night or early morning conference calls.

However, despite all that, we’ve found that hiring outside our own national borders, with freelancers, is a fantastic way to keep costs down and maintain quality for a small business. As the title of this post says, talent acquisition is a global concept. That is because the best person for the job may not be in your city, or your state, or even the same country as you. And if you’re willing to look, and make a few sacrifices to ensure it’s a success, the result can be overwhelmingly positive.

First look at Coastal Quest

It’s still in development, but we thought we’d release some video of the next MiBooks kids interactive book; Coastal Quest. Basically, the plot of Coastal Quest is a trip to the beach for you and a friend, and you decide to go exploring. Along the way you meet plenty of interesting characters at 10 different locations (including the pier, surf, shipwreck, coral reef, rockpools and caves) as you attempt to help a sea creature who has got himself caught in a fishing net.

Take a look…

Read first, comment later

As a company that designs and develops applications for both Android and iOS, we are constantly having people provide feedback about our apps, be it through the email feedback channels in our apps, or by comments in the Market or App Store respectively. Our users have shown that they are fantastic when it comes to providing feedback and ideas for improvement, as well as pointing out when there’s a nasty bug causing havoc.

However, despite how great these emails are to receive, the comments on our apps in the Market or App Store are not always as well thought out. Just last week, our Ultimate A-League app for Android was critiqued on the Android Market as such:

“So fast not very impressive. Two games finished for thee season, yet no scores shown.” – 1/5 stars

Putting aside the poor grammar, terrible spelling and wonderfully creative use of ‘ye olde english’, the fact is that this person was insinuating that our app wasn’t working properly, as live scores from this weekend’s A-League games weren’t appearing. Which would be a legitimate gripe, except for this line in the app description:

NOTE: This app doesn’t offer live A-League scores, as it clearly states above.

Now, I’m not sure how much clearer we can be when it comes to describing our apps, but I think that sentence is fairly straightforward and easy to understand. But the problem isn’t the sentence – it is that this person clearly didn’t read the description of the app, and simply assumed that it would do live scores and commentary for the A-League.

So, you might say, what impact does one poor review have on the numerous positive ones you’ve received? Well, unfortunately, when people find our app now in the Market, this is in the first few comments they see associated with our app, and those comments can mean the difference between a purchase and the potential customer going elsewhere. This is then compounded by the fact that neither the Android Market, nor the App Store, offer the ability for developers to respond directly to these comments, resolve them, and then have the comment removed so as not to damage the reputation of their app (a feature many developers, including us here at HDG, have been asking for).

The shortcomings of the Market not withstanding, the solution can be expressed in a quite simple ethos: read first, comment later. The description for most apps available today are just a few paragraphs long, and will take only mere seconds to read and comprehend. So I implore you, the people who download apps, to please read the description before making a disparaging comment. Because you might just find that it was an assumption on your behalf, and not developer error, that is to blame.

Postage and shipping: It’s all about options

With any small business that sells a physical product, at some point along the way you’re going to need to consider shipping and packaging, be it shrink wrapping, bubble wrapping or even something as simple as popping the product in a pre-paid envelope and dropping it off at either the Post Office or in a post box.


But there is also the factor of choice.

How do I want to ship the product? Should it be shipped as a registered package, or just go through the normal parcel post service? Sure, you may think that just because your products aren’t fragile or overly costly that they don’t need to be shipped with a courier or registered post service, but why are you making that decision. The product you’re shipping is only worth as much as your customer thinks it is worth – and you will almost certainly have differing views on that worth.

So don’t make that decision. Don’t dictate to your customers how you’re going to ship the product to them, based solely on your perceived worth of your own products. Because, for the customer, there will be other mitigating factors at work, such as their location, whether they are home during delivery hours, whether they have a P.O. Box rather than a letterbox, whether the area they live in is secure enough for products to be left at the door or do they need to be signed for, and so on.

With our own Kiddie Up products, which we sell online, we provide regular post, registered post and courier options for all our customers, be they in Australia or overseas. Why? Because to do otherwise would be to assume that all our customers live in identical houses, in identical streets, in identical states and countries, work identical hours, and have identical needs. And if, like us, you’re selling your products online, you have no excuse not to offer a few options, as most eCommerce packages allow you to set this all up in just a few clicks and keypresses.

So when it comes to shipping and postage, the bottom line is simply let the customer decide for themselves. Give them a few options to choose from (but not too many that it becomes a chore to decipher), because they are always going to be the best at deciding how, where, when and in what form they want your product to arrive.

Introducing Ultimate A-League

Some Hamson Design Group fans and followers, or readers of this blog, may not be aware that Hamson Design Group also run and operate the popular A-League football website, Ultimate A-League.

Ultimate A-League features news and opinions from around the A-League football competition in Australia, along with an app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Ultimate A-League is also a statistical repository for all the clubs, players, stadiums, fixtures, managers, records, standings and results in the A-League, from the competition’s inception in 2005 right up until the most recent season (2011-12).

Make sure you also check out this week’s competition, and our brand new Fantasy and Tipping competitions.

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