RadResume 1.0.3

We’re happy to announce that RadResume 1.0.3 is now available for download in the app store.

Version 1.0.3. contains

  • Bug fixes that were introduced when Apple released iOS8
  • A variety of minor fixes and improvements including better text handling in a few of our resume templates.
  • 2 new resume templates: “Lines” and “Elegant” (below)
elegantblog linesblog

 

Into production

It was way back in mid October when we launched the radresumeapp.com website with development of the actual RadResume app starting a few weeks before that and me R&Ding for a bit even before that to figure out if we could pull this off efficiently. After several months of design, development, and re-design (when our day jobs and significant others allowed for it) we are proud to announce that RadResume is finally available for download on the iOS App Store.

RadResume is free to download and includes four free templates to allow users to start producing beautiful, elegant, and effective resumes right away. There are an additional six resume templates available as In-app purchases but we’re not stopping here, we will be providing additional templates through upcoming updates.

We’re almost there

Been a while since our last update but not to worry. Work has been done, progress has been made and we’re pretty much wrapping up development for the release of RadResume.

Sebastian testing the app.
Run through

Onboarding Design

It’s been a while since our last update, but things are progressing nicely with RadResume. We’ve entered bug hunting and polishing mode, so we’re hoping that launch is not too far away, though like with most software projects, the final few meters before the finish line often taken longer than you had expected or hoped for.

As promised, I wanted to talk a bit about the thinking behind the way we designed our on-boarding for RadResume.

Initially I was convinced that our app would not need any type of onboarding / tutorial. There were two reasons behind this thinking: 1) I wanted to design an app that was easy and intuitive to use, thus obviating the need for any type of tutorial. 2) Because we had decided not to force our users to create an account in order to use our app (and it is customary to have this happen in an onboarding flow these days), again I thought this was another reason we wouldn’t need any type of onboarding process.

Then a funny thing happened. While logically, my above 2 points for not needing an onboarding process held up, it just didn’t feel right when you used the app. When you first opened the app, got past the splash screen, and were immediately shuttled into the main screen, it just felt like the wrong place to be, especially for a new user. Since I designed the main screen and had seen it hundreds of times, it didn’t feel all that wrong to me at first, but my suspicions were confirmed when I did some informal beta testing by showing it around to a few friends. They all agreed that some sort of soft introduction to the app was necessary.

This is sometimes the difference between poor and good UX design. All the logical things are telling you one thing, but the “feel” and other user opinions tell you something different. Additionally, I had a few other reasons for not wanting to design an on-boarding process, but because I had come to the conclusion that it was in fact a necessary component of our overall app experience, I decided that it had to accomplish the following things:

  1. Explain the main features of the app and how to use them by way of screenshots.
  2. Explain that our app is a template based resume creation service which allows for almost one tap creation of your resume if you import your info from LinkedIn.
  3. Showcase our beautiful resume designs.
  4. Use one of the on-boarding screens to do a soft push for user e-mails as well as a soft solicitation of app feedback and reviews.

That said, here’s a quick preview of our onboarding process… (p.s. designing some of these screens for both 3.5 inch and 4 inch screens was a pain in the ass, it definitely forces you into some design compromises which are often not ideal… and this is just one of the many reasons why fragmentation is bad boys and girls.) I should also mention that if you want to see lots of examples of other well designed onboarding screens, check out: http://uxarchive.com/tasks/onboarding

Screen1Screen2Screen3Screen4Screen6Screen7 Screen5

 

Enter PaintCode…

Sebastian was so amused with my resume template graphic sketches he blogged about them a few weeks back. Some of you might be thinking, “What’s going on here, why don’t they just use images?”

Our template graphics are drawn programmatically to give us the most flexibility. Whether we’re drawing a template thumbnail, drawing a fullsize preview or drawing to a PDF context we can get the graphics in any size we need and in any colour scheme at any time.

Of course mapping out the coordinates of graphics and writing CoreGraphics code got old pretty quickly so I thought there had to be a better way. A friend pointed me in the direction of a product called PaintCode by PixelCut. I came across PaintCode a few months ago while looking through tutorials on www.raywenderlich.com and thought, “Cool, but I thought I would never need to do anything like that”, and promptly forgot about what I had came across. Luckily, I discovered PaintCode again just at the right time.

PaintCode is a vector drawing program that allows you to create graphics with dynamic shapes and colours. The real magic with PaintCode is the realtime code generation. As you create your graphics and make changes to your drawing, PaintCode generates code to represent your graphic.

Slices template graphics drawn in PaintCode

Slices template graphics drawn in PaintCode


The code generated by PaintCode can either be Objective C for iOS or OS X platforms, with or without ARC. PaintCode can also generate C# for MonoTouch.

I would highly recommend PaintCode if you’re doing iOS development and are in need of coding up dynamic graphics. PaintCode normally sells for $100 but there’s an opportunity to get it for just $20 right now (crap, I sound like an infomercial host). MacHeist just released their nanoBundle 4 today and it will include PaintCode if they reach their goal.

(We are not affiliated with MacHeist in any way, I just think this is a great opportunity to donate some money to charity, help out some independent developers and get some great applications at a great price at the same time).

UPDATE: PaintCode has just been unlocked for the MacHeist nanoBundle 4 (Jan. 13, 2014)

A quick peek at the app development process

In my last post I mentioned that I would be following up with a post or two about the iPad screen design process as well as a post about the on-boarding process we’ve designed for RadResume. Those are still coming, but I wanted to share a couple of things my partner Kenny, who is doing the programming on RadResume sent me. Over the weekend we were chatting about the way he was implementing each resume template and he described it to me as programmatically drawing various graphical elements using a co-ordinate system. Today he sent me this:

Resume Template Driving

Resume Template Drawing

 

Designing the core of our app (Resume templates)

The last month of app development has included a ton of work. From a design perspective, we’ve now completed the starting set of resume templates we’re targeting to launch the app with as well some additional templates we’ll be releasing in the successive weeks after launch. We haven’t quite decided which templates will come free with the app download, and which ones we’ll have available as in-app purchases. Additionally we’ve also completed the design of the iPad screens and the on-boarding process for both the iPhone and iPad, both topics which I’ll cover in future posts. This post is about the thought process that went into designing the resume templates. The central core of RadResume is built around allowing our customers to download our app, and then very easily create resumes that meet the following criteria:

  • Visually appealing.
  • Stand out from the mountain of resumes a typical employer receives which are commonly standard white page / Microsoft Word / Times New Roman / Georgia / Arial formatted resumes.
  • Easy to read for a potential recruiter / employer.
  • Help you land the job by showing a higher level of care and attention to the formatting of your resume.

When you think about the following additional considerations, the act of designing the resumes templates that our app will be based on becomes a lot more involved:

  • Who is the target customer / demographic for our app.
  • What kind of fields / jobs / career paths do they apply for.
  • Generally speaking, what do recruiters / employers in those fields look for when it comes to a resume and cover letter?
  • Consider that most recruiters only spend 6-20 seconds scanning any resume looking to be impressed in some way.
  • Some employers / recruiters are not impressed with what is often, derisively called a “fancy” resume, so if we are going to build a useful app, we need to give our customers some more traditional / conservative template options.
  • Most job applicants (with the exception of teenagers or retail workers, though most larger retailers prefer digital resumes) don’t print out resumes any more, though as the noted exceptions indicate, some do.
  • While the majority of our app users will be using the app on a device with a retina display, the resulting output PDF resume will be viewed on all kinds of retina and non-retina, non-calibrated monitors / devices with varying degrees of screen contrast / brightness / colour gamut, etc etc.

Given all of these considerations, when it came down to designing our templates we wanted to make sure that each of them had multiple colour options, ranging from simple black / white / greyscale to more colourful options that when printed or viewed as a PDF would still contain enough contrast and clarity as to accomplish some of our above stated goals. Additionally, we knew we had to balance some of these things with the idea that while we wanted to create a huge amount of value for our potential customers as to entice them to download our FREE app and then see the value of purchasing additional resume templates, we had to temper that desire with some real life facts of iOS development. Designing these templates and then actually adding them to our app is a non-trivial amount of work, especially when you consider that we’ll be giving away some percentage of these for free, and charging significantly less for each in-app purchasable template than you’ll find practically anywhere else. After all, as Steve said, real artists ship.

Debating Software Ambitions with our App

The reality for the overwhelming majority of independent developers (like us), is that competing in the app store has turned into a bit of a lottery system. With well over a thousand new apps being released each day, luck plays a major role in whether your app will succeed or simply fall into and languish in obscurity. Of-course the range of resources and marketing power each developer has behind their app as well as their overall ambitions and what qualifies as success for their app varies widely.

As a developer you can help yourself along a great deal by creating an app that is beautifully designed, unique and crazy useful. Additionally, getting the attention of the press can certainly give you a nice boost, though as most iOS developers will attest to, mentions by the top tier publications are the only ones that tend to move the needle on app downloads in a significant way. And if you don’t actually have any contacts inside Cupertino, all those things are still no guarantee that Apple will take notice and bless you with their magical wand of featuring … but what if they do? What if your app does get lucky and gets featured?

While most developers would be thrilled to be featured by Apple, that real possibility presents some interesting design challenges for apps like RadResume. Our current intention is to follow the freemium model and release our app for free. Those lucky bastards that do download the app will have the ability to create and edit beautiful, effective and elegant resumes using our powerful template based editor. Additionally, the app will allow customers to purchase additional resume templates through an in-app purchasing system. Our intent is to onboard our users through a slide tutorial the first time they use the app, but we had no intention to force users into signing up for an account in order to use it. The reasoning behind this is two-fold: 1) Forcing an account system is a barrier to use. Simply put, we want people to use this app. We want them to find it incredibly useful. We want it to help them land that job they’ve been gunning for. 2) Creating an account system now creates an entirely new set of technical challenges and further strains our limited development resources. It would also significantly extend our development time and further delay our launch which is something we’re desperately trying to avoid, as well as force us to spend money on the server resources to host such an account system.

But what if we do get lucky? What if we are indeed blessed by the Apple and app review media gods and suddenly we find ourselves with 500,000 downloads and nary a way to contact all of our customers because we didn’t implement an account system? Are there other more clever ways of preparing for that kind of success with our app that don’t include dedicating those resources to creating an account system? Does it even make sense to worry about something like this when the odds of having a blockbuster launch are relatively minuscule considering the competition and our incredibly limited marketing budget (aka. $0.00)?

These, and other grander ambitions with our app which I won’t mention for the time being are the things we’re currently debating. In other words, how Magical Wand of Apple Blessing-proof should RadResume be in Version 1.0 considering the limited resources we have to work with?

Designing an App icon

While the exact impact the quality of your app icon has on the overall success of your app is somewhat debatable, what’s generally not questioned is that poorly designed icons can and do hurt your download numbers. That said, this blog post chronicles the journey of our app icon design process. In my mind, the icon had to accomplish the following:

  • Be simple and clean
  • Limited colour palette
  • Stand out on both light and dark backgrounds
  • Not look like well known app icons

Initially things were a bit of a struggle as I didn’t have a super clear design direction and just stared to experiment with various fonts, backgrounds, textures and placement. I also very quickly learned that the letter “R” is not a particularly pretty looking letter in the overwhelming majority of font faces. Round 1 which you can see below resulted in an icon we were not entirely pleased with but for the sake of having something to work with while we developed the app and the pre-launch website, we went with the final icon in this set.

Designing an app icon

Round 1

 

Initital feedback on the last icon was not kind, and while like all designers, I still held some attachment to it, I started to see that this icon just felt too “80’s” and retro to fit with the general aesthetic of our app. So, back into Photoshop for Round 2.

Round 2

Round 2

 

This second round of icons was quite polarizing. The bottom row of this set I was relatively pleased with. I liked the angled lines, and the fact that it was a background shape I had not seen before. At the very least it felt somewhat unique to me. While some people I showed this set to agreed, others, like my partner on this app project had a slightly less favourable opinion: ” These are all terrible “. While I didn’t necessarily agree, I knew there were still lots of room for improvement.

 

Round 3

Round 3

 

Round 3 finally brought an icon that there was some consensus on (3rd one in the top row) and it finally seemed like we were getting close to nailing something down that received near unanimous positive feedback, met my initial goals for the icon and both my partner and I could agree on. Only one thing remained. I wasn’t entirely convinced that was the right font face for the “R”. Also, I wanted to play with some more colour options and perhaps some minor drop-shadowing.

 

Round 4

 

Inevitably anything I design usually winds up being a bit of a process of trial and error as was the final design of this icon. While the colours stayed the same, we found a font that worked much better and we also realized that leaving the drop shadow out kept the icon as simple as we had originally envisioned. Icon 2 in row 2 became the winner.

Now all we have to do is finish designing and building the rest of this resume building app!

 

Why we’re building a Resume Building App…

To put it as plainly as possible, we’re building a resume building app because we see a significant gap in the market.

Are there other apps in the iOS app store that do something similar? Yes, there’s dozens of them. With nearly a million apps, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find a category of app that there is zero competition for. The real question however is are these apps any good? Our assessment is that the answer to that question is… not really. Looking more broadly, there are also dozens of other resume design services, of varying natures that can be easily found on the web. Unfortunately they suffer from one or both of the following problems:

1. The final product, the resume, is poorly designed and often suffers from the infamous problem Steve Jobs ascribed to Microsoft: “they just have no taste“.

2. The services or apps that do wind up producing a decently designed resume are almost always prohibitively expensive. While some job seekers are currently employed, in today’s economy many are either not employed or under-employed which means the practicality of them spending $99 or more on a well designed resume (whose sole initial purpose is to get the attention of HR or the person making the hiring decision) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Our mission with the RadResume app is to give job-seekers a powerful, easy to use tool that will allow them to create beautiful, elegant and effective resumes designed to stand-out from the rest in a cost-effective way.

About a year ago, I was hiring for a contract position at one of my other entrepreneurial ventures and so I posted a job listing on my local Craiglist careers section. Within a few days I was overwhelmed with over 150 resumes, with a few more dozen trickling in over the next week. 100% of them suffered from the same problem. Poor formatting, poor design and overall poor presentation. Not a single one of them stood out or made any sort of immediately visual impression that would have impressed me enough to short-list them. This is where the initial idea for the RadResume app was born.