Coffee Cellar 2.0: Rethinking the App

Coffee Cellar is an App that I developed last year. It’s an App that I use regularly in my day-to-day life but hasn’t been updated since last Christmas.

I spent a good 6 months and put heaps of effort into Coffee Cellar and that effort was rewarded with some really nice reviews and coverage (both print and digital). Despite the positive reception, it hasn’t done amazingly well financially. Nevertheless it does make some money.

When I produced the App my target was to raise enough money for a new mid-range espresso machine (around £300). That was nearly a year ago and I’m only about 1/3 of the way there. I know I can make it to the my goal but I don’t want it to take another 2 years.

My plan is to pour heaps more energy into the App and make that remaining 2/3 so I can buy that new coffee machine. To do this I’m developing Coffee Cellar 2.0 and, along with it, attempting another marketing push.

The good news is that you won’t have to wait long. Coffee Cellar 2.0 is complete and has been submitted to Apple with an anticipated release date of December 2012. Users of Coffee Cellar 1 will get Coffee Cellar 2.0 for free as an update (it will still be called Coffee Cellar). I’ve yet to decide on a price for new users but its likely to remain similar to the current pricing ($1.99 or £1.49).

Coffee Cellar 2.0 is not a totally new App but instead its a tightening up of the overall experience. Rather than adding buckets of new features, I’m streamlining and improving what is available. There are numerous tweaks, fixes, and additions being made and in this blog post I’d like to share some of the key improvements.

Appearance

I’ve always been proud of the appearance of Coffee Cellar because I created all of the graphics myself. More recently I’ve been looking at them and thinking they’re a bit sloppy and a bit ugly. They’re broad brushstroke concepts and lack attention to detail.

For Coffee Cellar 2.0 I wanted to overhaul the graphics. I’m still doing them all myself because, whether or not I’m any good, its something that I enjoy. I think its safe to say that Coffee Cellar 2.0’s appearance is much improved. When looking at one of the new screens in isolation you may not spot the difference but, taken as a whole, all of the subtle improvements come together to deliver a much more polished interface. In fact, EVERY single asset in Coffee Cellar 2.0 has been redesigned from scratch or improved in some significant way.

Lets take a look at some of the old screens and new screens side-by-side.

Cupboard

I’ve adapted the cupboard considerably. Gone are the heavy, cartoony outlines and in their place more reliance upon shadows and highlighting. Hopefully the wood has a more subtle but realistic grain to it.

The background is also new. Incorporating the features mentioned above to create a subtler appearance.

Sharing

Sharing has been improved altogether but the most immediate impact is through the visuals. You no longer receive a coffee with a simple pink circle to denote it as shared. Instead you now receive a parcel that you must open to reveal the coffee that has been shared with you.

Its a much nice looking experience as well as being more fun.

Viewing a coffee

My goal with the view coffee screen was to improve the wood grain and create a more modern look. The background now benefits from better shading and grain. The text buttons are replaced with more substantial icon-driven buttons. The star ratings are more of a feature, easier to tap and look much better.

I’ve added small icons to all of the fields to denote their purpose (name, country, region, farm, and merchant). I’ve also switched from the pink text to a more neutral grey.

Searching

An improved button and better separation between the table cells. Ive also added icons to the cells, again used to easily identify the fields.

Icon

I really wanted a new icon for coffee cellar 2.0 but was happy with the overall concept of the old one. What I opted for was improving its colouring and shading as well as adding some air bubbles to the surface of the coffee. Overall I think the result is much more appealing than the original.

Cupboard Icons

All of the cupboard icons have been modified to receive better colouring and more realistic shading.

A new tasting note experience

This is the headline feature. The old tasting note experience revolved around entering custom words to record the coffee taste. Stats show that this feature has not been used very much.

I still believe that tasting is a matter of personal experience and there needs to be a freeform element to tasting coffee. That said there is clearly a need for more structure if comparisons between coffees are to be effective.

In the above shot you can see the old experience and the new improved experience. I’ve tried to strike a balance between complexity and ease-of-use. I’ve settled on the following Coffee characteristics…

Aroma: This is the smell of the Coffee. You can pick out many of the characteristics of a Coffee from smell alone.
Acidity: Some nice crisp, bright acidity can be a good thing in coffee. On the flip side too much can overwhelm and is a sign of poor extraction.
Sweetness: Some coffees are naturally sweeter than others. Depending on how well it works with the other components of the coffee this is generally considered a good thing.
Body: Similar to wine, some coffees exhibit a fullness of body (having what I’d class as an almost edible quality).

Each of these 4 attributes can be given a score of 1-5 with 5 being the most pleasing to your palette. These are added to create an overall score out of 20.

In addition to the score you have a flavour section where you can record the flavours you can taste. This is improved over the previous version of Coffee Cellar because you can maintain a global list of flavours to select from as well as adding new ones. More often than not you are going to select similar flavours so hopefully this makes adding them a breeze.

iPhone 5 support

Supporting the iPhone 5 was initially easy to achieve. Once I started to look deeper though it ended up being a lot of work. Each screen has to be reviewed and a decision made. In some cases I’ve conditionally moved elements on the screen whilst in other cases I’ve needed to create a new xib (I’ve tried to limit this for maintainability).

The end result is that iPhone 5 users get a full screen Coffee Cellar experience with the added benefit of an extra shelf in the cupboard.

Numerous smaller fixes

Facebook sharing
Improved sharing for Twitter and Email
A Welcome Coffee that also acts as a tutorial
Font and Alignment tweaks

Not everything made the cut and I’ve had to park some items for future releases. Lets see how this new update does first.

Marketing

Marketing is still in progress but I have a number of things planned.

New Website

This is still a waiting page at the moment but the new website is designed and coded and will be up in the next few days. You can visit it here – www.getcoffeecellar.com

Updated facebook page

I’m not terribly au fait with Facebook but I think its time I extended my reach past twitter. I’d be much obliged if you could fling a quick like over here.

Dedicated Twitter account

Coffee cellar now has a dedicated Twitter account for updates, support, and fun with the community (that I hope to build). Follow @CoffeeCellarApp

New trailer

I’m working on this and will release it as soon as possible. The old trailer was a little too jaunty so I’m hoping to give this one more of a cool, lifestyle vibe.

Merchandise

I’m ordering some merchandise soon. Custom coffee cups (because I want one) and some custom Coffee Cellar T-shirts (for some gorilla marketing).

Press release

I hope to send out a day 1 press release to help with inbound links and overall coverage.

Email press

Targeted emails at specific members of the press and magazines.

I’ll write up the results of all of this in a follow up post soon.

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