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Case Study 29: Art Beat Inc launches two iPhone apps

Art Beat Inc offers art event listings for New York City ( ) and Tokyo (  A dedicated team of art experts and enthusiasts update the content daily, covering a variety of mediums—painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, video, and much more.  Art Beat also offers rich personalization and community features such as favorites, reviews, and recommendations.

Although the Art Beat web sites have been tremendously successful, like most web sites, they do not translate well when viewed on mobile phones.  As an interim solution, Art Beat created mobile-friendly versions of their sites.  These were effective but they didn’t take advantage of one of the key mobile benefits—knowing the user’s location

In an effort to improve the mobile user experience, Art Beat recently launched two native iPhone apps—NY Art Beat and Tokyo Art Beat.  The apps were designed in collaboration with Vela Design Group and Ginsburg Design, both based in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The initial versions include the following key features:

·      Maps and directions to nearby art events.

·      Ability to browse events via a variety of rich metadata, e.g., location, media type, and “smart” lists.

·      Quick access to the most popular events in the app’s area.

Event list and detail views.

iPhone apps seem simple on the surface but creating an app is a significant undertaking.  If you plan to develop an iPhone app for your service or organization, consider some of the lessons our team learned along the way.

Try to limit the scope of version 1.0.

Although it’s always tempting to have your app do more than less at the beginning, fewer features means a more timely release and an opportunity to listen to user feedback before developing the next version of your app.

Sort out API issues first.

If your app requires access to an API (Application Programming Interface), make sure the API requirements are fully defined before design and development begins.  If you don’t take the time to do this, you’ll slow down your software developer.

Don’t skimp on specifications.

Although iPhone apps often have less functionality than web or desktop apps, they still require detailed documentation.  Documenting the user interface and backend requirements will keep everyone on the same page and save time down the road.

Mobilize don’t miniaturize.

Don’t attempt to cram every possible bit of info onto the small screen. Choose which pieces of information are most important for the mobile user and prioritize them accordingly.

Allocate ample time for field testing.

If you have a location-based app, it’s critical to test it in the field before launch.  You may uncover user experience issues that are difficult to find in a usability lab environment.

Develop a marketing plan.

Having a great app is meaningless if no one can find it.  Art Beat was fortunate to have a built-in user base and loyal Twitter following but even that’s not enough.  Be creative and adapt your strategy as you discover what works and doesn’t work.

To see the Art Beat apps in action, download them on iTunes now:

NY Art Beat:

Tokyo Art Beat:

Press Release can be found here: