Sunday, 11 January 2015

Resolutions for a Windows Platform Developer

This year seems to be slipping by quickly but it feels fresh with optimism and hope.  It’s always interesting to see the plethora of resolutions issued in January.  And, while I’m not immune to this, I decided to start my resolutions well into the year so I don’t fall into the category of blowing them all before February is done.  I’m sure, if you checked, you’d find most social media inundated by resolutions.  I read on forbes.com that only about 8% of people achieve their resolutions.  That’s a whopping 92% failure rate.  That same article suggested that approximately 40% of residents of the USA make those resolutions.  That’s a whole lotta failure to deal with.  Well, I’m not into failure.  Who’s got time for it?  I thought, for this year at least, that I would come up with a list of resolutions I can keep (well, most of them anyway) and you, the reader, may feel free to rip off any or all of these resolutions.  I’m not all that complicated.  Just like most people out there a complicated resolution is almost guaranteed to fail.   KISS (Keep is Super Simple, ya, I know, it has other meanings) is the key to these resolutions.  They aren’t rocket science; you don’t have to buy a bunch of gym equipment or memberships you won’t use.  Honestly, for the most part, these are things you should probably already be doing or maybe are already doing and that makes them even easier.

Earn more Advertising Revenue from my Apps

Do you do advertising in your apps?  How’s that going?  I have a large number of apps that contain Microsoft pubCenter advertising.  The problem with that is fulfillment rates.  Sometimes, like around Christmas, I get pretty good fill rates and that’s a good thing.  Higher fill rates usually mean also a higher payout for my apps.  However, typical fill rates are at or below 50%.  That means a lot of wasted screen real estate.  I fill that with things like my own advertisements but that does not generate any revenue. 

Well, last year, Microsoft Dev Center introduced a new medium for advertising.  Ad Mediation for Windows Phone is available to all developers and (here it comes) I RESOLVE to include Ad Mediation in my apps to make better use of the full time a customer is viewing my app and thus generate more revenue making me happier!

See, that wasn’t too painful.  One down.  You can give it a go too (and let me know through comments how you did).  Find out more about Ad Mediation at Dev Center.  If you already use pubCenter, then switching to Ad Mediation will be a piece if cake and get you a bunch of new ad choices.  Some are better in some locales than in others so you really can maximize your apps ability to earn revenue.

Make my Apps Better

Do you have apps in the store?  More importantly do you have some method for your customers to provide feedback to you?  If you don’t, shame, YOUR New Years Resolutions should be to add a feedback method to every one of your apps.  If you do, you will find that those same customers will start generating great ideas for your apps.  I have a bucket of them for more than a few of my apps.

Do you update your apps on a regular basis?  If you have apps that don’t get all that much love from the Store and you’d like to see more downloads, update it.  Regular updates can improve your position in searches and that means downloads.  Already have quite a few downloads?  Regular updates can improve customer satisfaction and increase usage.  Increased usage means more ad revenue. 

Did you know that features suggested by customers make great In-App-Purchase products. Those features are the ones they want and are willing to pay for.

So….. I RESOLVE that this year I will improve at least five of my apps with new features and bug fixes as suggested by customers making my customers happier!

Learn More about my Craft

This past year has been spectacular with regards to learning more about what I love to do. I had the pleasure of attending the Microsoft //Build/ conference in San Francisco. I learned a bunch of new stuff that I was able to apply to my development.  More importantly I met quite a number of people who are now go-to people when I have questions about Windows Platform development.  If you choose to go to Build 2015, make sure you take advantage of the networking opportunities offered.

I completed several courses at Microsoft Virtual Academy.  I spent quite a bit of time looking through courses that I would LIKE to take and there are too many to enumerate here.

One of the greatest learning opportunities I had was from other Microsoft MVPs.  Your local MVP is a fount of knowledge and loves nothing better than to share it with you.  Find them, meet them, learn what they know and you will be a better developer.

This is really more of a continuing thing but you have to keep at it.  Our world changes so fast.  Windows 10 is coming soon.  Along with that will no doubt come so many new features, changes to the way we do things and just all around differences that to NOT indulge in your continuing education is to become less productive. I RESOLVE to continue my education in at least 3 areas, learning, networking and practical development making me smarter and better able to help developers and customers, making my developer friends and customers happier!

Increase my Programming Productivity

This last category is the hardest one and the one that is, nevertheless, important.  To better program you need to be fit.  I’m the last one to discuss fitness as, sadly, that is one of my vices.  I do not get enough exercise.  In fact, if you are like me, the busier you are with coding the less you pay attention to your body.  Tell me if this sounds familiar?  You code more, you sleep less.  You code more, you sit more.  You code more, you get winded faster.  Ok, first, I don’t want to code less.  What I do need to do is fix some of the other bits. 

Late last year, my cousin presented me with a Microsoft Band as a birthday gift.  It’s really cool.  However it does highlight the fact that I don’t sleep as well as I should.  I also now have a better idea of how little I’ve been up  and about. 

I RESOLVE to do the things required to improve my sleep and general fitness so that I can code including getting my step count up making me happier!

This will be the toughest to do.  I’m going to keep an eye on my Microsoft Band to help me track progress.  Did you know certain Windows Phones that support “Sensor Core” can do activity tracking for you?  There are also some very inexpensive fitness bands out there but they are not required.  I’m going to keep an eye on my friend Jonathan Rozenblit at Microsoft who is a strong advocate for Microsoft Technologies (he works there) and for developer fitness.  Another MVP associate of mine has done away completely with chairs in his office.  Instead, all his workstations are standing ones.  I’ve seen this in a number of places and while I’m not ready for that kind of commitment it does have it’s attractions.

Whatever it is, do something

I don’t expect I will succeed at everything I try but I will try everything I resolved to.  You need to come up with your own ideas.  Remember, pick stuff that will be simple and easy or something you will find fun and entertaining.  Everybody has their own limits and abilities.  Find your happy place and good luck.  If you achieve some success, feel free to post a comment here so that others might enjoy your success with you!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (SORTA)