How To Decide Between Indiegogo vs. Kickstarter

As an entrepreneur, three of your favorite words are most likely “let’s DO this!” Advanced thinking and forward motion are where your comfort levels lie. While you’re busy running the show, you often need a boost from others to help you keep the momentum moving to reach the next level, which is where our breakdown of Indiegogo vs. Kickstarter comes into play.

By the power of the Internet and more importantly, the benefit of social media, we are in a time where we can propel our businesses and ideas not just among our friends and family, but through people who share our same passions.

Indiegogo and Kickstarter are two of the most popular sites entrepreneurs use to raise money to fund their business. Both sites are user-friendly and house a variety of campaigns. Non-profits use the sites to raise money for their charitable cause, independent films use it to raise monetary back for their projects and the list goes on and on.

Before you reach out and begin “campaigning,” so to speak, make sure to perform your due diligence and research which fundraising method will work best for you. It seems simple enough to watch others become funded and think the same course will work for you. However, keep in mind that each campaign is unique with its own set of goals and measurements of achievement, which means that you will have different means of reaching success.

At the end of the day when you’re creating a profile on either of these sites, you want to make your story stand out. That’s one thing that all successful campaigns on Indiegogo and Kickstarter have in common.

So, then the question remains: how to decide between Indiegogo vs. Kickstarter?

Indiegogo — The Good and Bad

Indiegogo is not as well-known as its competitor, but it has its own appeal for entrepreneurs who want to jump start their business or launch a new product or invention.

Pros:

  • It’s free to set up a campaign. The site charges 5% on all funds raised, when your project begins to receive contributions.
  • More variety on the types of projects able to be submitted for funding. Kickstarter typically accepts creative projects dealing with the arts, media, technology, and design. If your business doesn’t distinctly fall into one of these categories, Indiegogo may be your better option.
  • Flexible funding means you get to keep every dollar you raise, even if you don’t reach your goal. Although you should plan for the best-case scenario of reaching your target, consider how you will allocate any money you receive if you do happen to come up short.

Cons:

  • Indiegogo is a lesser-known brand than Kickstarter and thus, may be harder to pick up traction or gain as large of an audience.

Kickstarter — The Good and Bad

Pros:

  • History of success; over 95,000 projects have been funded since their launch in 2009.
  • There is a built-in community with Kickstarter. For example, if you visit their website, it shows “new and noteworthy” Kickstarter campaigns for donors to review for consideration.
  • Prior to official launch, you can test your campaign and receive feedback. Your chosen focus group can help you work out the kinks and make sure it’s polished before it goes live to the world.

Cons:

  • Unfortunately, if your project doesn’t reach its goal, no money is collected. Also, Kickstarter does not currently take PayPal payments; Indiegogo does.

Any platform will have its pros and cons, but no matter which fundraising site you decide to use, it’s still up to you to promote your project. While you may receive backers from people you’ve yet to meet, your first supporters will be friends, family, and peers. Prior to setting up your project, determine what kind of promotion you want to do and set out a strategic marketing plan.

Keep in mind that when using social media, people can become fatigued if it feels like they’re just being sold to all the time. Brainstorm creative ways to share your story and make the actual act of donating appear secondary. If people confidently believe or support your idea it’s easier for them to want to contribute.

Think about your goal and how feasible it is to achieve. Since most monetary goals are in the thousands of dollars, you have to think who you’ll outreach to for the bigger donations. If you are dependent on family and friends alone, it’s not likely that you’ll reach your goal on Kickstarter and therefore, will not receive any funds. Research your target audience to ensure that your campaign gets in front of the right eyes.

Consider how you will spread the word. Will you set up an email campaign? Will you promote through a special Facebook page. Will the people you are targeting be more comfortable donating through a site that is more well known to them, such as Kickstarter, or is that not a factor when it comes to the audience you plan to target?

When it comes to deciding between Indiegogo vs Kickstarter, weigh your pros and cons and decide which one will fits your product, idea and campaign best. With careful planning and execution, you can launch a successful campaign and get the funding you need to take things to the next level.

6 Tips to Get You Started With App Store Optimization

Launching your app? Learn the best app store optimizations to improve visibility and increase downloads.

The moment has come, you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into building your app, and you’re ready to launch. Once it finally launches, there is nothing worse than all your hard work translating to disappointing performance. Downloads are stagnant, and what you thought would be a huge success is quickly fizzling out. What happened? Why do some apps take off quickly while others fail?

The answer is simple: It doesn’t matter how great your app is if customers can’t find it. The majority of apps, 63 percent, are discovered through app store searches, according to Forrester. With more than 1.5 million apps available, if you aren’t found through basic searches, you are missing out on a core segment of your audience. Rising to the top of search results, however, is made easier through app store optimization.

What Is App Store Optimization?

For years, developers have used search engine optimization (SEO) to drive more traffic to websites. ASO is similar in strategy; however, instead of driving traffic to a website, it’s focused on driving traffic to your app through increase rankings in app store search results. You can think of ASO as app store SEO.

The primary goal of ASO is to increase the visibility of your app. Once you start driving more traffic to your app page, downloads will naturally start to increase, which will provide additional traction for getting found in search results. But to accomplish this, you must understand the language potential buyers are using to find your app, and then carefully integrate those keywords into your app promotion.

Getting Started With ASO

Getting started with ASO requires you to stop thinking like a developer and start thinking like your customers. Really think about who you expect, or want, to download your app. And moreover, understand the words they will use when searching for your app. Once you have a grasp on this, it’s important to integrate that information into the right places. Here are a few app store optimization tips to consider:

Title. Keywords should be used in the title. In fact, apps that use keywords in the title rank 10.2 percent higher than those that don’t. But you might be wondering about keywords. Should you just use your best guess, or is there a more exact way to find them? One approach is to use a keyword tool, such as Sensor Tower and App Annie.

Description. When uploading your app, you can include descriptive content about your app. This is very important and serves two purposes: helping people find your app through using the right keywords, and encouraging people to fully commit download your app. Pepper keywords into the description, but also ensure that the content is engaging, informative, and provides enough information about your app to get users to download it.

Category. Apple recently broke its app store into subcategories, which allows apps to rank higher in search results for specific areas. Since you can select only one category, it’s important to select carefully. Look for categories less saturated with competitors that fit your niche market.

Getting Found: A Few Other Considerations

There are typical on-screen criteria for ranking high in search results, such as title and description. But other criteria can also weigh heavily on your visibility. For example, how many times has your app been downloaded? At first, this number will be low. But over time, as you get more downloads and that number rises, so will your rankings in search results.

Another important factor is ratings. When people download your app, what do they think of it? Are they giving your app a good rating? If so, this will also help you get found. One way to influence ratings is through the use of a plug-in that prompts users to review your app after using it. If your app has a solid user experience you should see some positive results!

Tips for Getting More Downloads

Downloads affect visibility, but how can you encourage more people to download your app? One strategy is creating a more engaging experience than your competitors’. Here are a few considerations:

Create an app video. Many people are visual. They want to understand the look and feel of your app before downloading it. Developing a quick trailer can move the sales process along. Be sure and showcase the usability and key features users will get when they download.

Provide a screenshot of your app. At a minimum, you should screenshot your app so people can quickly see what it looks like. From the buyers’ perspective, the less mystery about what they’re downloading, the better. Buyers want to be educated.

Create a demo. If your app is not free this is a key step. People want to play with your app before paying a fee to purchase. Create this experience through a demo, which will ultimately increase downloads — and rankings.

Upload an app icon. This will create a consistent brand experience for the user as they quickly recognize your app. This becomes increasingly important as you gain word of mouth traction and people begin to seek out your app.

The Next Steps

When thinking about ASO, it’s important to realize that it’s not a perfect science. You may not get it right the first time, and that’s okay. Using this strategy takes time and a lot of experimentation as you figure out which keywords your audience is searching for, and how best to enhance your app’s performance.

But the time you invest is worth it, because as you monitor and tweak over time, you’ll achieve the right balance. As a result, you’ll significantly enhance your app’s ability to get found in searches.

Key Takeaways

  • Be patient. Successful ASO requires experimentation, and trial and error.
  • Be willing to invest time. You likely spent a lot of time developing your app, and by investing time in ASO, you will solidify the long-term success of your app.
  • Make ASO an ongoing process. Continue to tweak the keywords that you’re using and see what performs best.
  • Keep tabs on the competition. What keywords are other people using in your niche? Could you borrow some? Or can you differentiate and use completely different keywords to get found?
  • Focus on a high-quality experience in everything you do. This will lead to more positive reviews and downloads, and help you rise to the top of search results organically.

As you launch your app consider all of the suggestions and refer back to this handy app store optimization guide to be sure you have all your bases covered.

Sass vs. Less

If you’ve been in the world of web development for at least a few weeks, you’ve probably heard about Sass and/or Less.

That’s because Sass and Less are two of the most common CSS preprocessors in the industry, and are used by many web designers and developers alike.

In this article we’re going to talk about the differences between Sass vs. Less, and more importantly which you should learn as a beginner.

I’m a newb, what’s a preprocessor?

Formally speaking, a preprocessor is a program that takes in one “type of data and converts it to another type of data,” according to Shay Howe.

CSS preprocessers, like Sass and Less, convert into CSS so that web browsers can read the styles.

Some say Sass and Less are like supercharged CSS, because they are extensions of the CSS we know and love. They extend the CSS language by adding features like variables, mixins, functions, and more.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand what these words (mixin, etc.) mean yet.

What is important to understand is that using a CSS preprocessor like Sass or Less makes writing CSS easier, allows you to organize your stylesheets better, and is more maintainable.

The main takeaway: using a CSS preprocessor makes your workflow faster and more efficient. Overall, it makes your life as a designer or developer easier.

Learning a CSS Preprocessor

There are several options when it comes to CSS preprocessors, but the two most common are Sass and Less.

The good news is that once you learn one CSS preprocessor, it is not difficult to switch to another if needed.

Below I’m going to talk about reasons why you should consider each.

Reasons why you should learn Sass

Note: There is Sass (Syntactically Awesome Stylesheets) and then there is Scss (Sassy CSS). In this article, I will be saying Sass, but will be referring to both Sass and Scss.

1. Sass has better language ability.

When comparing Less vs. Sass it’s clear that Sass is more like programming. It has if/the/else statements, for loops, while loops, and each loops.

If you are familiar with writing programming languages, like JavaScript or Ruby, this will be nothing new. Except now you’re able to use them in your stylesheets, thanks to preprocessors.

Less has most of these capabilities, too. They are just not as complex.

Moreover, Sass allows you to do a more variety of math equations. And it has better selector nesting, which can help you keep your stylesheets more in line with DRY principles.

Overall, Sass has more advanced language features and capabilities.

2. Sass has Compass.

Compass is a beloved open-source CSS authoring framework.

Translation: Compass is a framework that goes along with Sass.

And people who use Compass, love Compass.

Even more, lots of big name websites rely on Compass, such as:

The problem? Getting started with Compass is not so easy. (However, there are a lot of awesome tutorials to help you out!)

Aside from Compass, there are other Sass libraries/frameworks. And, yes, there are libraries/frameworks for Less, too. (Check out a list of them all here.)

But none of the Less extensions compare in popularity to Compass.

Learn to Code Websites and Apps →

Reasons why you should learn Less

Less came to the scene after Sass in 2009. Less stands for “Leaner CSS”.

1. Setup (may) be easier

Less uses JavaScript. And you can get going with Less just by downloading less.js, where it will compile the stylesheets in the browser. However, this is not a good approach to take. (Because it will perform AJAX requests to grab the Less files, convert into CSS, and then inject the result back into head of document.)

Obviously, this is inefficient. However, if you’re just playing around and testing out the Less waters — this method will do.

Now, with both Sass and Less most designers/devs will use the command line to compile their files into CSS.

But if the command line terrifies you, fear not. There are a variety of GUI compilers available.

One last thing to keep in mind when setting up either on your machine:

While Less uses JS, Sass uses Ruby. Windows machines do not have Ruby pre-installed. Meaning setting up Sass on a Windows computer may be more difficult. (Again, this is where one of the GUI compilers could be helpful.)

2. Less is like training wheels

Many people say that Less is easier to learn than Sass. Some even say it’s like training wheels.

Moreover, Less’s syntax is more comparable to CSS. Which may be nice for people just starting out, wanting to move from CSS to a preprocessor.

The main differences between Sass and Less

Differences between the two are not massive. Here are a few key ones.

1. Less runs on JS, Sass on Ruby.

As we talked about previously, this could make a difference when setting up your environment.

Again, there are several GUI compilers available where you don’t need to venture into the command line at all.

Meaning this shouldn’t be a factor when determining which to use.

2. Less doesn’t have as many awesome frameworks, like Compass.

As mentioned previously, Less does have some extensions. But nothing like Compass — which people rally behind. In fact, some people use Sass because of Compass.

3. The way you write variables differs.

This is not a huge issue. Both store values in the same way, they just use different symbols.

Sass uses $, whereas Less uses @.

One issue that could arise for some would be confusion while using Less’s @ symbol because in CSS the @ symbol has other meanings—like @media queries and @keyframes. In CSS, the dollar sign has no other value.

In the end, this mostly it comes down to personal preference.

4. In Less, loops only allowed for numeric values.

Again — back to the more complex capabilities with Sass. In Sass you can iterate through any kind of data.

But in Less, you can only loop through numeric values with recursive functions. Being able to loop through any kind of data, like you can with Sass, is much more helpful.

5. Better nesting in Sass

Both Sass and Less allow nesting, but Sass takes it a step further by allowing you to nest individual properties.

Still unsure? Go with Sass.

Unless you are working with something that relies on Less (like a certain frontend framework), go with Sass.

Yes, the learning curve may be steeper at first. However, most agree that Sass is better in the long haul bauce:

  • Sass has a better language syntax
  • Sass has more features
  • Sass has Compass (and other frameworks to choose from)

Basically, Sass is next level.

At the end of the day, using a CSS preprocessor (any preprocessor) is better than using none. It’ll speed up your workflow and make your styles more efficient regardless.

Plus, you can always switch later on. Just start using one.

Which team are you on? #teamsass or #teamless?

5 Reasons Why Swift is Perfect for Beginners

“I’m new to programming — what’s a good language for me to learn?”

So you’ve just joined the world of programming. You got your introductory crash course, learned the basics, and got enough of a taste to know you want to do this. Now there’s just one question: where to start?

If this sounds like you, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Every new programmer has to face this question, and all too often the “right” choice isn’t right for what you want to get out of programming. If you’re new to programming and you want a language that’ll get you fast results, I recommend trying out Apple’s Swift language. Today, I’m going to give you five reasons why I think Swift is great for new programmers. Ready? Let’s get –

Hold on, hold on. Just a quick disclaimer before we start. There’s a lot of fame-and-fortune-related reasons to pursue Swift. Maybe you’re interested in creating the next phenomenon that takes the App store by storm. Maybe you’re interested in following in the footsteps of apps like Getty Images, Yahoo! Weather, or LinkedIn, all of which were created with Swift. Maybe you just want to get in on that sleek, smooth Apple aesthetic.

All of those are all great reasons to learn Swift, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to focus on why Swift isn’t just a great language, but a great language for someone who is learning how to code. Here’s five reasons why Swift will be a great fit for your programmer origin story, starting with:

1. Swift Was Designed to Remove Complexity

Created as a (long overdue) replacement for Apple’s Objective C, Swift is a coding language for the people, by the people. Okay, maybe it’s not quite there yet, but it is a system that was made with simplicity and efficiency in mind.

Its syntax was designed to close the gap between the human mind and the computer operations, getting rid of a lot of the moving parts that most other languages need to get off the ground.

Imagine, for instance, that you were coding with something from the C family. Before you could get the code to compile into anything remotely resembling a functional app, you’d need to master everything from functionals to optional chaining. Other languages might have you spend hours working the finer points of headers and compilers, and that’s all before you even feel like you’re getting started. The thing about programming is that you want to build something. So when you’re starting out with programming languages, it’s often a good idea to pick something that you can pick up easily, learn quickly, and build fast.

The thing about programming is that you want to build something. So when you’re starting out with programming languages, it’s often a good idea to pick something that you can pick up easily, learn quickly, and build fast.

2. Fewer Special Characters

If you glance at anything written in Objective-C, Swift’s predecessor, you’re bound to notice one thing all over the place: semicolons. Semicolons at the end of every single line. It’s a veritable flood of semicolons, a plague of semicolons. Just take a look:

That’s the way that many of the older coding languages work. Every line break needs a semicolon, except for the ones that need brackets, or square brackets, or curly brackets or who even knows anymore! And if you miss even a single one? Disaster strikes, and you get to spend the next three hours combing through your code. Swift does away with most of that nonsense, letting you focus on getting the computer to understand what you want it to do. (AKA: the important stuff.)

3. Try It in the Playground First

One of Swift’s greatest “no pressure” innovations is the inclusion of a playground feature to Xcode, the main development tool for the language. Here’s the basic idea: rather than throwing you into the deep end with a full-fledged app, Swift gives you a safe space where you can simulate the apps or programs you’re creating.

This makes an enormous difference in how you can play around with Swift. Go ahead, try out that gut instinct and see if it works. It doesn’t? No sweat, just try another tweak and see if that does the trick. The sandbox model is there to get you working quickly, and to eliminate the ever-present fear of, “Am I about to break everything?” Whether you’re taking the first tentative steps or trying out a hare-brained scheme, the Swift playground’s got your back.

Which leads us to…

4. Swift Gets You (Nearly) Instant Gratification

Think about the last time you were learning a new language. Or mastering a new dish. Or picking up any new skill. Now imagine trying out something new… and then not being able to see if you got it right. Or, even worse, not being sure where in a series of steps you went wrong. Doesn’t sound like a great learning environment, does it?

A lot of programming languages take time to bear fruits, or force you to jump through all sorts of hoops just to get your code to compile.

A lot of programming languages take time to bear fruits, or force you to jump through all sorts of hoops just to get your code to compile. But Swift was built with a sense of immediacy as one of its guiding principles. The playground lets you see what you’re building with just the touch of a button, and, even as a novice, you can put together a simple app in just a matter of days. You get concrete results, see your work in action, and get to hone your skills at a much faster pace.

5. Swift is About to Go Open Source

Earlier this year, Apple made a big announcement: Swift is will soon be made open source. That may sound scary, but it’s actually a really good thing for programmers everywhere. Long story short, it means that the source code for the language will be made public, contributions from the community will be accepted, and the compiler will be available for systems outside of the Apple family. Translation: the language is about to become much more open, much more exciting, and available to a lot more people.

This means that there’s no time like the present to jump on board the Swift train. The community that surrounds the language is about to grow at an exponential rate. There’s about to be many more people coding in Swift, writing about it, teaching it, and more resources dedicated to it! It really is about to become a coding language for the people, by the people, and you want to make sure that you’re there to catch the wave when it does.

What is a Minimum Viable Product?

It’s a tool for finding product market-fit (AKA when people love your product and/or want to pay you for it) Wikipedia some great info on when you’ve achieved product market fit.

It’s something you can change quickly.

According to Steve Blank “An MVP allows you to gain maximum amount of learning in the shortest amount of time”.

It’s a tool that helps you discover your early adopters, get early revenue, and gather data on the viability of your business. Whether you’re building a business to business application or a consumer facing app, an MVP is a critical tool for helping ensure you nail your startup’s business model before you invest in scaling.

Here are important aspects for discovering and building a useful Minimum Viable Product.

The prototyping team.

If you’re in a startup, chances are you’re burning through cash and that you need to move quickly from idea to revenue. Perhaps the most important aspect of any startup is it’s team. In the earliest stages, this team should consist of three types of people, the hacker, hustler, and designer. I won’t go too deep into each of these roles but it’s important to note that skills in sales and rapid prototyping are key to being able to move quickly and iterate on the design of your product during MVP development.

Build things that don’t scale.

Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator, wrote an excellent article about the idea of building things that don’t scale. A common mistake entrepreneurs make is writing code too early and trying to build out a fully functional product. Depending on the market you’re attacking, you may be able to build a high-fidelity MVP that is really just a bunch of interconnected and clickable mockups. This could be enough of you to pre-sell early adopters without actually writing a single line of code.

Another option is to leverage existing services like WordPress and Google forms and create a version of your service that looks automated on the front end while in reality, you’re behind the curtain manually making the service run. The point here is to try and test whether someone will pay you to actually execute your value proposition.

Know what you’re measuring.

When I’m testing a B2B Saas business, I often use a version of the High-fidelity MVP to try and get early adopters to either sign a letter of intent or pre pay me to build the service. In this case, I’m measuring the number of customers I talk to who are actually willing to pay. However, when building say the next Twitter, you might be testing ways to drive traffic to a landing page where you’re asking people to give you their e-mail to get on a waiting list. In this case you’re measuring conversion rates and you have a pass/fail metric that will help you determine whether the MVP is a success or not.

If you aren’t measuring and capturing data with you’re MVP, you’re going to have a tough time demonstrating the evidence for why your business will be viable.

Iterate

It’s important to remember that the MVP is not a final version of your product. Whether your MVP is actual code or clickable mockups, you’re not intending to keep any of the work you’re doing. You need to have mentality that the MVP is just a prototype that can be changed at anytime. This is why the prototyping team is so important at the earliest stages. You need people who move quickly and don’t get stuck in building something that’s perfect but rather something that gets you maximum learning in the shortest amount of time. When the evidence dictates you need to pivot, they’ll be ready to pull an all nighter and pump out the updated version.

But wait, How do I even decide where to start? and Can I start now with just a one person team?

In my work with startups, schools, and corporations, these are a questions I get all the time.

Start by talking to customers. If you’ve got an idea for a specific market, reach out to target users and ask them to tell you about the challenges they face. Try and focus on their pain points and then sketch out your first MVP on the back of a napkin. Then get feedback from the user. Repeat this ten times until you have a good understanding of the pain you’re trying to solve. This will help you have a much better understanding of what MVP you should try to build first.

A huge part of being an entrepreneur is being able to recruit talented people to join you. You’re constantly selling your vision and mission to potential partners and employees and asking them to give up cash and opportunity to follow you into your startup. That said, it is possible to start building your startup with just a one man team. In our One Month MVP course, I’ll dive deep into the steps you need to take to help sell, design, and build your first MVP without writing a single line of code. If you’re working alone or with the ideal prototyping team you’ll be able to use the evidence you gathered and the prototypes you build to help sell your vision to investors, partners, and you’re first customers.

Google Analytics: The Modern Way to Know Your Users

How many users came to your site today?

Do you know how many people are coming to your site? How could you figure that out? Well, if you live in the 1990s, you could put one of those little web counters at the bottom of your screen and keep track every time someone clicks it (you could also say hi to Ace of Base for us).

Now there’s a much better way to track web activity: Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free service you can sign up for that will track all sorts of useful information on your site. It tracks much more than just who shows up. It will also tell you how many users are boys or girls, where they’re coming to your site from, how often they come back, even what kind of computer they’re using.

At One Month, we use Google Analytics to track data that allows us to figure out what sort of content will help our community best. Like when we found out that many of our visitors are Windows users, that helped us remember to keep them in mind when we make our classes.

Any web site you make can benefit from Google Analytics. It doesn’t matter if the site is a straight out of the box site from somewhere like Squarespace or if it’s a site you made yourself. It also doesn’t matter if you’ve never tracked the site before; you can add Google Analytics to it now.

Here’s how you get started:

  • Create a new account at the Google Analytics homepage.
  • Fill in a quick form with some details of you and your web site.
  • Copy the tracking script they give you into the code of your site (make sure it’s showing up on every page).

Then you’re ready to track your demographics.

Takeaways

  • Google Analytics helps web sites track user demographics
  • If you have a web site, you need good demographics to make content your users need.
  • Adding Google Analytics to your web site is easy no matter what kind of web site you’re using.