Vylo Case Study Update: Programming and Graphic Design Issues That Have Delayed the Project

Vylo Case Study Update: Programming and Graphic Design Issues That Have Delayed the Project

Today I wanted to provide an update on a software case study that Perrin and I are doing right now.  As introduced a little while ago, we are developing a software application targeted at gamers called Vylo.

Vylo is a web-based chat solutions for PC gamers primarily, and we hope to build it into a great business.  However, we are still in the development stage and have not launched the business quite yet.

This is one reason I haven’t provided an update for about 2 months now; because not much outwardly has occurred.  However, there has been A LOT going on in terms of product development that need to be shared.

In addition, I think this post will be a great insight for anyone looking to hire a developer and create their own software business in terms of project timelines and small issues that can arise.

Current Status of Vylo

So, how is the Vylo development coming along?  Well, I truly believe that we are getting VERY close to having a product that we can start officially beta testing.  We’ve been internally testing Vylo for a couple of months now.

Once we have worked out just a couple of minor issues, we will likely start sending out the beta version to the list of over 6,000 interested people that Perrin built.

So, in its current state, we have a working version of Vylo that Perrin and his friends currently use while they are gaming.  It works!  So, that’s a huge step obviously.  But, it still has just a few rough edges that need to be tweaked before we can publicly share it.

Toss the Timeline Out the Window

If you look at the date of the last Vylo update, you will remember that it was posted in February of this year.  Development on the project actually started at the end of November, and we expected that it would only take a couple of months.

So, as you can see this project has taken our developer much longer than expected.  We are now going on about 5 months, and its still not quite ready.

As you can imagine, this can be very frustrating to some people.  However, I’m personally not too anxious about it.  I’ve always been MUCH more concerned about getting a great product, even if its late, than getting a half-working product on-time.

And to be honest, this is really not out the norm for larger projects; they often take much longer than expected.  I’ve come to realize this as I’ve made major changes to Long Tail Pro a few times and the deadline is always a goal, but if it takes a month or 2 longer to get something completed; I’m okay with that as long as its done right.

For Vylo, we have had a few issues arise that have caused the time delay; including our developer getting sick; developer being extremely busy with other projects (as he thought he would be done with ours), some graphic design delays that were caused on our end, and unforeseen bugs that needed to be fixed.

Again, this is probably the norm for any large project.  The unexpected happens.  So, despite our wishes that the software would have been ready for prime-time by now; it really is going to be just fine.  We’ve had great communication with our developer and that goes a LONG way in keeping everyone on the same page.

Graphic Design Issues

One of the issues that caused a bit of a delay was the graphic design.  We didn’t have graphics ready to hand to the developer…to be honest we didn’t fully know what we would need going in.  The developer was able to add some basic skins, but after discussing with the developer and ourselves, we decided the highest quality product would be created if we hired a graphics person to do the designs.

This took a little bit of time, but what took even more time was the fact that we sent back our first designs and asked for a second set!  Ouch!

Basically, it was our fault again.  We asked for a bit too much in terms of graphics, and ended up with some designs (based on our instructions) that we thought looked outdated for this project.

Here’s a sneek peek at the first set of designs that we got for Vylo:

vylographics1

I’ll be honest, I like the design.  However, I’m not a gamer.  After Perrin, the developer, and the other partners (all of whom are gamers), discussed the designs, they decided they did not like it.

The primary reason was that it looked like something that would have been cool 10 years ago, but not so much now…it looks out of date.  Also, we wanted something more simple and clean to match what Vylo is all about (a quick and easy way to set up chat rooms for your gaming buddies).

Again, this was our own fault for not being more clear about what we wanted up front with our graphics person.  So, we went back and got a second set of designs that we are moving forward with.

Here is the current look of Vylo:

vylographics

Overall, we are happy with what we have and are moving forward!  Just a few more tweaks to the actual application and we’ll be ready to introduce it to the world for more testing.

Marketing Plans

Despite a few hiccups along the way, we are still actively planning how we will market the software once its ready to go.  We are still planning on what I shared in the last update about marketing:

  • Connect with influential gamers and communities where gamers hang out.
  • Get Pro Players to try it out.

In addition, with our initial list of over 6,000 people we hope that it will spread by word of mouth.  This is a very natural way for Vylo to spread since its pretty boring to chat in a room by yourself.

Once we have a final product in our hand, we will be hitting the marketing side of things much harder.  But the majority of it will be focused on finding those that already have some influence in gaming communities, forums, have email lists, etc and doing whatever we can to strike up some sort of agreement with them to mention, promote, or share Vylo with their communities.

Going forward, I’ll share our marketing plans and results much more as that will be critical to the success of this business (as with any business).  For now, its still a bit of quiet before the storm…

Excited for the Future Launch

Overall, Perrin and I are very excited for the eventual beta testing and launch of Vylo!  The potential market is huge and we think with the completed product and the right marketing we can capture a nice sliver of that market.

We still don’t know the exact date of when everything will be ready to go, but it really should be in the next few weeks.

As always, I’d love to hear any comments or questions that you have, and Perrin and I will do our best to address each of them.

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65 Comments for this Post

  1. Perrin

    Perrin

    Oh man… Those early designs! They hurt! Ha.

    Happy with the current designs, though 🙂

  2. Dash

    Dash

    Could you expand on the graphics issue you had? What channels did you use to find a designer? How long did the process take? How spendy was it? etc, etc…

    I would LOVE to know more details on this kind of stuff and this Vylo project. Getting a website created that is bigger than your typical niche sites is really down my alley right now.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Hey there 🙂

      I won’t disclose the amount we spent on a designer, but it was abut what you would expect to spend on a professional designer. That is — it wasn’t an Elance job, so it wasn’t cheap.

      The designer is someone I’ve worked on several different projects with, so I knew her work and could call her on the phone.

      Everything else was just hard work. We sat down and hashed out a bunch of different concepts, mocked up some designs, went through the whole site, and figured out designs for each element. Then our designer just started drafting mockups and sending them over.

      It was a pretty grueling process! (…although we were going at a pretty fast pace because we all want this thing done and launched!)

      • Perrin

        Perrin

        P.S. Perhaps at the end of the project, we can disclose a detailed budget or something. 🙂

  3. Greg Moore

    Greg Moore

    The new design is great! At a glace I can tell what’s up.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Thanks, Greg 🙂

  4. joe

    joe

    Sorry if this was already covered, but how is this better than using Skype?

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      1. You don’t have to download anything
      2. You don’t have to exchange info

      Instead, you just share a URL and everyone is chatting. It’s built for quick, random pick-up games with either online friends or other players you meet in-game.

      🙂

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      They serve different purposes. Lots of gaming chat software exists outside of skype currently, there is a big market there.

      • Misty Spears

        Misty Spears

        TOTALLY AGREE. I currently use TeamSpeak and Ventrillo with my gaming buddies and honestly it’s such a pain having to setup a profile for every server I enter. For example, when I joined a clan in one of the games I was playing the other night, I had create a whole new profile with my display name, the server, port, password, etc. Too much!. I’d rather just click a link and join immediately.

  5. DG

    DG

    I like the first design,the second design looks boring

  6. Jon Haws

    Jon Haws

    Great case study Spencer. I am in the process of conceptualizing my first software project, and this case study along with all other about LTP have been very insightful.

    I too am not a gamer, but I like the second set best!

    Good luck!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Jon! You’ll have to tell me what the software project is all about…

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Nice!

  7. Pratik Unadkat

    Pratik Unadkat

    This is very interesting. Lately, I’ve been developing a lot of interest in SaaS so I am digging all posts alike this greatly.

    Also Spencer, just like you, I am digging the first design too. Maybe we are old schools ha! 🙂

    -Pratik.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Keep us updated!

      I’ve very new to this arena, too, so we’re definitely learning together, Pratik!

      • Pratik Unadkat

        Pratik Unadkat

        Perrin,

        I agree. I think in future we should do a private mastermind of couple of people too who are maybe committed in SaaS for making a passive income (income stream).

        I believe it helps everyone a lot to keep each other accountable for everyone’s own progress.

        Cheers,

        Pratik.

        • Mark Mayes

          Mark Mayes

          Pratik, I’m with you here, SaaS is definitely the way to go.

          I’m creating services on Microsoft Azure and I’m AMAZED at how easy and powerful it is.

          I’m always up for a discussion on this with a view to future business

          Mark

        • Pratik Unadkat

          Pratik Unadkat

          That’s great Mark. Hope we’ll be in touch (all of us) in future when we start our own ventures as well.

  8. Jhana

    Jhana

    Congrats again you guys! Such a huge inspiration! I totally understand what you mean when you say the first design looks a little bit outdated haha. I’m not sure if I completely dig the second design though. I think perhaps the white on orange color scheme just doesn’t sit too well with me. Perhaps a green or a blue? Also, the skeuomorphic design elements seem a little outdated to me… perhaps you guys could try a flat design style. But that’s just my personal preference. Anyway, keep at it guys!

    • Pratik Unadkat

      Pratik Unadkat

      I kinda agree with Jhana on orange/white design too. Maybe blue/white could have gone well. But anyway, I think colors are easy to change as much is based on CSS and images can be edited as well. So split testing in future is possible I think.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Very possible. The nice thing is that the graphics are honestly not that important for this particular product; the users won’t be interacting with it a ton. Once they are logged into a room, they will be off playing their games, not staring at the designs. We can also update designs at any time if we decide to.

      • Pratik Unadkat

        Pratik Unadkat

        A great point on the latter part. Yeah, not much interaction is done on site once they are logged in.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Too late now! Ha.

      I really like the designs, but if we (and, more importantly, our customers) decide we don’t like them down the line, that’s a very easy thing to change. 🙂

      • Stephen

        Stephen

        I’m a graphic designer and I definitely like the second design. It’s awesome.

        Keep up the good work, can’t wait to use it =]

  9. Rahat

    Rahat

    Wow wow wow, I’ve got a feeling that this will blow up.

    As a graphic designer, I also have to say that the graphics are bangin

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Rahat!

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Thanks man!

  10. Rahat

    Rahat

    By the way, I think it would be a good idea to keep your mailing list warm by sending them a quick email update on the development and design.

    • Pratik Unadkat

      Pratik Unadkat

      I agree on this too if you are not already staying in touch with them.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Yep; we need to get on top of this.

  11. Alex

    Alex

    Awesome, Spencer.

    You always have different online business ideas. But I’m still working hard on my niche site.

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      So are we, Alex!

      We’ve got a whole bunch of niche sites we’re working hard on, and I personally am working hard on my second niche site. It just passed $200 this month today!

  12. Jeffrey Dibble

    Jeffrey Dibble

    Hi Spencer,

    I think you need to change the new design. Orange/white doesn’t work in this case. Maybe you can try out the blue/white. I think someone mention in of the comment. Somehow blue always attract people to buy.

    You might give the idea of us vote for it. Then you can have a better idea.

    Have a thought.

  13. Andrew

    Andrew

    As always great job on the project guys!

    Being a graphic designer ( not trying to pitch myself in any way, and not searching or accepting any works) Just very thankful to Spencer for all his great things he’s done and shared with us, learned a lot from him, so here are my 5 cents:
    I can tell the both designs are a bit to simple and not at the level they could be.
    First design is old styled, and complicated, so its good you doped it.
    The second has a good idea behind but still missing on execution.
    A few problems:
    – good style for 2012, not for 2014 ( a flat styles will be more appropriate)
    – no attention to details,
    – to many gradients,
    – looks like something on Elance, sorry to be mean 🙂
    – even the headphones over the knob are not finished.
    A real flat and clean style design will do the job perfectly!
    I would advice going to dribbble.com and just type in to the search for ” interface design” or something similar.
    You can get there some really good designers, some of them are world renown and may charge up to 100$ per hour, some of them may go as low as 15-20$ !
    But once again, you get what you pay for!
    Good luck Spencer and Perrin, this project is really nice!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for the good advice Andrew!

  14. Rus

    Rus

    Just reading the comments it’s easy to see how hard design/design process is.

    Everyone has different tastes so everyone will have an opinion on what is good and/or bad about your design.

    The best solution is to hire a quality designer at the beginning and have as much information for him/her before you even contact them.

    Know what functionality you need and always ask “what happens next”. If you want a button, what happens when you click that button. Need a big circle with headphones around it? Why, what purpose does that have?

    Knowing the details will help your designer and keep costs down.

    Once you have a good first version, push that baby out of the nest and let user feedback guide you on what works and what doesn’t.

    This has been a public service announcement from a 20+ year designer/UI/UX/Developer guy 🙂

    • Perrin

      Perrin

      Yep!

      In the end, you just have to take something and run with it. 🙂

      Designs are easy to change, though, so I’m sure they’ll evolve as the site evolves.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Rus!

  15. Drew

    Drew

    Hey Spencer,
    Been following your blog for a few years and this is an interesting project you are getting into. There is lots of heavy competition out there and I would suggest digging into it. Off the top of my head, the major ones I know of are RaidCall, Ventrilo and Teamspeak. Their interfaces are not snazzy and look very window-ish. But they work and work well.

    Best of Luck, still stuck in my wantreprenuer world and wishing I could get out. A niche site, authority site or webapp website is what I want to do.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Drew. Yes, we are definitely aware of the competition and understand how we are different from them; which is key. Best of luck!

  16. David

    David

    Hello Spencer and Perrin

    this looks like an exciting project.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the delays – in a year’s time you will be glad that you took the time to get the product right before launching it.

  17. Kate_H

    Kate_H

    Not a gamer or graphic designer but I do dabble in website creation so I thought I would throw my 2 cents into the ring.

    The majority of the comments here are all about the graphics which to me shows how important the visuals are (I would imagine the same would apply with gamers as well).

    Maybe you could make the software skinnable? If you are targeting specific games you could always make up some skins to complement the game of choice?

    As I said just my 2 cents worth.

  18. Steve

    Steve

    This is a pretty amazing case study. After seeing how much was made in such a short period of time with LTP the wheels were definitely turning.

    I’m impressed by the fact that you were able to build a list of 6000 interested buyers.

    Keep up the good work guys, I would also love to see the final costs with this project.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Steve! And I’m sure we will be sharing more numbers in the future after launch etc.

  19. Tyng

    Tyng

    As an avid gamer myself, this is definitely an interesting concept.

    I just couldn’t help but wonder though, if you have to share a link, then does this not require having already exchanged some sort of contact information (it was mentioned in comments that the one of the points of this webapp was you didn’t require exchanging info)? Otherwise how would you send the link out to the other party members?

    Whether that is a phone number, email, instant messenger client, etc…

    I suppose it’s still a benefit considering everyone has a browser versus having to work out which program to install and use.

    I just want to add that I currently use Dolby Axon, and there’s one feature that I really like that I can only briefly describe as voice mapping, where you can visually place users around your own icon on a map, and this will cause those people to sound like they are coming from that side of the room. The benefit to this is that you can easily identify who is talking just by the direction they are speaking from – emulates sort of a real world environment so to speak as if the person was in the room with you. Some people have very similar sounding voices so this makes it very easy to tell who’s who without having to ask who said something. 🙂

    Another thought also is have you considered possibly going to a gaming convention, such as PAX Prime to showcase this?

  20. Matthew45000

    Matthew45000

    This looks great! Thanks for the update. Looks like it’s on its way to being very profitable for you, and a great learning experience for all your readers. I’m looking forward to hearing absolutely everything about how you guys market the product.

    Best of luck! Keep on crushing it!
    Matt

  21. Don Massey

    Don Massey

    Hey Guys

    Great to hear about your progress. Word of mouth marketing will be your best bet. You are in a market where passionate people play.

    My son worked in the music industry (recording) and a few years ago he decided he could write software (plug-ins) for the recording and mixing equipment. He did. His stuff is good and he has been very successful and is well known in his niche. Because music is a passionate industry, word of mouth was his marketing plan. He has never advertised. Passionate folks passed on the good news of his products, particularly on forums. 😉

    He did did some great reviews in industry mags which helped. Gaming mags? Writers need content.

    His plugs are free to try but you can’t save the settings which allows the user to try them but without being able to save settings for future studio settings. So the software is limited in its use. But they like them so they purchase.
    http://www.masseyplugins.com

    Could this approach of some limitation on a FREE copy with a purchase upgrade with the license be an option for you. Probably too late in development phase to even consider.

    Anyway best regards and look forward to hearing of your success.

    Don Massey, an old guy!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Don! In fact, Vylo will be taking the freemium type approach, will be free to use; but have advanced features for a fee.

  22. Mark Mayes

    Mark Mayes

    Hi Spencer, first of all, I love your site and everything you do. I used to be subscribed to 7 SEO guys, now you’re the only one I subscribe to.

    Anyway, I’ve been a software developer for 21 years so maybe I can help some of the people out there understand a little more about the development process.

    Software engineering (as we call it these days, until someone discovers something that sounds more cool!) has evolved immensely over the past 10-15 years both in the technology available and the development process. Years ago, you gave the developers a very detailed and static spec, waited and hoped for the best (the waterfall method).

    These days, we have “Agile” development methodologies, which promote a constant feedback loop between the developers and users, which ensures that you get what you pay for!

    As technologies and communications improve, there are more and more excellent programmers and companies with programmers out there. Note that I said programmers and not developers, or… software engineers. A good programmer does not make a good developer. The difference is in the feedback and providing a business service. This is not an art. Much like engineering or architecture, software development is a business.

    I’m straying now and waffling so let me get to the point. When hiring a developer, don’t just ask what they’re capable of developing. Ask about their development methodology, how they gather requirements, how they provide feedback, how they approach their testing, and most importantly, what they need from you. If they ask very little from you, especially at the start, then they’re not going to understand EXACTLY what you want, and trust me, changes are FAR cheaper at the start of a project than at the end.

    Cheers,
    Mark Mayes in London

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      EXCELLENT point Mark! I agree 100%. We’ve hired a great developer who is all about communication and constant feedback…very critical to the success of any project.

  23. Morten

    Morten

    I like blog post like this.

    BUT, is it a reason why you don`t share the cost of development/design, it should be really relevant if we want to take action on your content?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Its very easy to get a potential cost for your project. Post a job on Elance and see what programmers bid for. Everyone’s project costs will be different based on what they are developing.

  24. Josh Escusa

    Josh Escusa

    Vylo looks awesome. I don’t game anymore, but the concept of this is a definite winner. Looking forward to seeing this become huge in the computer gaming world.

  25. Ben

    Ben

    I like the second design.

    The first design looks rad.
    The second design looks great!

  26. Warren

    Warren

    The first design is more futuristic and might appeal more to fast action, SiFi gamers. However, gamers come in all types and gender. So the second one will server and appeal to a wider market. Also, the second design will be more responsive for mobile devices.

    Another point is that the second design, from a web developer, will translate to code more directly. Thus, once the code is done, it will run better, faster and with less bugs.

    Great work!

    I would like to develop a simple software too, but have no ideas at the moment. Do you have any suggestions of finding a need to fill with software?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Get a notebook. Write down problems you encounter each day that could be fixed with a business idea. Also, start thinking of various niches and how software could help…each day. After a few weeks, you’ll have tons of ideas.

  27. William

    William

    Hi Spencer,

    Thanks for the cool post! Your project looks awesome especially the graphics. Wish you all the best.

    For such a large project, why did you not register the .com ?
    Are you no scared that someone will take advantage of that?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      We are being lean; .com is taken.

  28. Nick

    Nick

    I like a new design and I am looking forward for a further progress of this project!

  29. Christine

    Christine

    Thanks for sharing your case study. Though I am not a gamer, I am now interested into participating in Vylo’s success.

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