At the beginning of this year I started working on my first indie app to release in the App Store called Dark Noise. It’s an ambient noise app for iPhone and iPad.

At first, I had a giant list of feature ideas and no idea how to distill them into a focused product. So I started by forcing myself to pick 3 principles to guide the design.

I eventually landed on these core principles:

  • Configurability
    • Targeting pro users who want as many options and hooks to work the app into their workflow as possible
  • Speed
    • Opening app to playing sound should be as fast as possible with no compromise since this is the 99% use case
  • Keep it dark (expect fat fingers)
    • Most users will probably be using this in a dark environment, possibly without their glasses on or half asleep. Keep that in mind.

After creating the principles, I took my list of feature ideas and tried to slot them all into one of those principles. If they didn’t fit, I tossed them in the backlog.

Dark Noise Principles in Action

Keeping these principles in mind as I tried to design and form an MVP was really helpful. I have a tendency to get overly excited by an idea and drop whatever I’m doing and build it. Often that’s a bad idea, but sometimes it’s good!

Whenever I had the thought of adding a bunch of custom app icons referencing podcasts I like, I realized it was something that might actually resonate with the pro users I was targeting. And seems to have done just that!

Dark Noise App Icons

This also played into my pricing decisions as that market tends to prefer paying up front and is a little more averse to ads. That’s not to say I won’t add a free tier in the future (in fact I probably will) but it’s something I’m always keeping in mind as I make these decisions.

Anyway, I’m not an expert at this, heck I’m barely a beginner, but maybe you’ll find my thought process interesting nonetheless.

This post is an attempt to make a more permanent record to this tweetstorm from a few weeks ago.