Blog

Beat the Deadline: Africa Design Award
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It's a little short notice, but, better late... Africa Design Award is  looking to reward designers who have projects that can embody a certain vision of Africa in its desire to move ahead. Send in your applications by 30th April 2014 (tomorrow) if you are interested.

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How to Let Your Members Shine: Easy Web Galleries for Creative Organizations
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We've been busy at Asilia, honing Black White Simple, the web app that we released last year to make it easy and quick to create your own simple, elegant website. Several member organisations and networks in the creative industry have approached us about creating online galleries using Black White Simple. So much so that we've developed special packages for these groups. Find out why a Black White Simple gallery might be ideal for you.

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Are you creating a total package? Presentation is everything, part II
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From the Afriapps archive: a post by Asilia’s Creative Director, Lulu Kitololo, that was originally written 3 years ago but continues to ring true today.

 

In the second part of her guest posts about app presentation, Designer and Asilia's Creative Director Lulu Kitololo lists some tips that app developers can take to help them differentiate and promote their apps.

In part I, I posed the following question to app developers: what are you doing to ensure that we notice your app for long enough to see what it's really about?

Considering that you will be competing with apps from around the world, not only does your app need to look good but, it needs to address the widespread thinking in Africa that, foreign is better. It's a presentation (or image) exercise that goes beyond the purely visual.

Below are 4 key areas to address when working on the total presentation package of your app:

1. Research
Have you considered the platform(s) that you are creating the app for (i.e. Android, iPhone, iPad or web)? Have you used apps on that platform and talked to other users about their experiences, frustrations and likes? Have you looked at other well-designed apps on that platform and thought about why they work so well? Are there standard buttons styles that you need to comply with and are there templates available? See below for links to some articles that provide just that.

2. Positioning
Have you thought about how you will describe your app to people? Can you come up with a short strapline that explains clearly and concisely how users will benefit from the app? Have you thought about why people should care about your app (i.e. what value it will add to their lives – how is it desirable)? How you will communicate this to them?

3. Design
Less is almost always more. When it comes to technology, good design is evident where user experiences are simple and straightforward, pleasant and intuitive. Not confusing and overwhelming. Design should assist rather than distract.

In designing your identity/style, have you considered coming up with a restricted colour palette and 1-2 fonts that you will use consistently across the app? If you are using or creating images, are they all in the same style (e.g. all in the same illustration style, all black and white photography etc.). This Mashable article from earlier this year observes 7 trends in mobile app design. Most of the examples shown pick a particular visual style/element that drives the look of the app – be it font style, background treatment or something else.

Have you considered not only how design will be applied to the app itself but also how you can consistently use elements of that design, or identity, across supplementary materials that you will use to promote the app (e.g. a website)?

4. Promotion
How will people find out about your app? Will you spread the word via social networks, events, online communities or other avenues? Have you prepared complementary graphics, in keeping with the identity you've developed, to help establish recognition of your app in different places (e.g. ads on relevant sites, avatars for Facebook fan pages and Twitter)?

A great starting point is thinking about who your app is for in the first place. What places (on- and offline) does your target audience frequent? How do they keep up with what's new? What communication channels are they most responsive to? What kind of marketing turns them off?

The suggestions above will help you to present your app in a professional fashion and promote it effectively. This will help to increase its exposure to the people who will benefit from it most.

Are there other important areas that I've missed? What else do you take into consideration when creating apps? What's your process?

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Illustration by Lulu Kitololo

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#Repost: Is your app getting noticed? Presentation is everything, part I
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From the Afriapps archive: a post by Asilia’s Creative Director, Lulu Kitololo, that was originally written 3 years ago but continues to ring true today.

In the first of a series of guest posts, Lulu challenges app developers to ensure their apps don't get lost in the crowd by using captivating design and presentation. Hope you enjoy it and look out for more insightful posts from her in the coming months.

I judge books by their covers. It's the path I chose, as a visual communicator, and the unsettling realisation that years of experience and observation have brought me is that, presentation is often everything. I've seen mediocre ideas in shiny packaging be heralded as genius. I've seen excellent concepts not even given a second glance because, on the surface, they just weren't engaging enough.

The business of image
Often with African-made products, and services, little attention seems to be paid to presentation. It seems there is a complacency when these products and services are consumed regardless. However foreign goods are taking over our shelves, showrooms and other marketplaces, at record speed. We increasingly HAVE to pay more attention to presentation because, at the point of purchase, the consumer's decisions is greatly influenced by what looks better.

The technology industry is a very visual one. A lot of people spend most of their time looking at some sort of screen‚ be it for business or for pleasure. Computers, televisions, games, mobile phones. Whether you like it or not, the app industry is involved in the "industry of appearances." As an app developer, design HAS to be one of your priorities. That is, if you want your app to become something more than your personal pride and joy.

The business of function
I'm not advocating that substance is irrelevant. Employing that great design adage, "form follows function," fancy packaging on shoddy goods will fall apart at the seams upon closer looks and sustained use. And use is why apps exist. An often unappreciated fact is that use is encouraged by function AND desirability. To create something that not only gets something done (whether that is entertain, solve a problem, educate, inform, manage etc.), but that users also enjoy using, content and design need to work in tandem. When makers appreciate this interconnectedness from the get-go, rather than tacking design on at the end, the resulting creations are superior and their users' experience of those creations are pleasant, intuitive, beneficial and‚ lasting.

True excellence runs deep and in fact, outer beauty is merely an expression of it. So to rephrase my first sentence, I may pick up a book because of its cover but, I make my final judgement based on what's inside.

App developers, what are you doing to ensure that we notice your app for long enough to see what it's really about?

Illustration by Lulu Kitololo

Read Part II here.

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Interview with @jkeyison and @fiifibaidoo from iSpace Ghana
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iSpace Ghana started as an idea way back in 2011, when two young techpreneurs, Fiifi Baidoo and Josiah Eyison, with a similar vision met at a tech event in Ghana. Afriapps was lucky enough to grab the founders for an interview about how they transformed their vision into a successful innovation hub for startups that has seen fledgling ideas grow into thriving businesses.

1. Tell us about yourselves
Fiifi Baidoo is a Web Enthusiast and has worked in the internet industry since 2003 with years of experience in LAMP, GEO tools, SEO, and Product Development. He blogs about the internet, social media, new technologies, platforms and apps in Africa. He is also known for his avid interest in mapping technologies and trains technology communities on these subjects. In 2010, he accepted the role to be a managing member of GDG Ghana (Google Developer Group) where he helped set up new GDGs across Ghana and SSA.

Josiah Eyison was instrumental in staging the first ever Apps Circus event in Ghana. After leaving his position as CEO of Quintessentially West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast), Mr. Eyison served as a Managing Director(Africa) for Learning Without Frontiers where he developed day-to-day communications efforts and executed community outreach strategies to support the organisation’s mission. Mr. Eyison has in the past provided prize funding for three incubators in Ghana, one of these companies was Saya Mobile who were selected to represent Africa at the World Mobile Congress 2012

 

2. What is iSpace?
iSpace is a unique environment where technology startups can start up safely. We nurture a local network of like-minded and focused tech entrepreneurs, providing places where they can work, meet, collaborate, network, learn and have fun. By providing the right people with Resources, Connections and Training in a physical space, good things happen.

Our goal is to promote and support entrepreneurs and innovators in Ghana building new technologies for global markets. Based in a 350 square meters of Class A office space in the centre of Osu with a breathtaking sea-view that inspires creativity and innovation, the open plan space includes permanent desks for resident start-ups, a ‘dropin’ working space for members requiring an occasional space to touch down in and a plenty of space to hold start-up and technology events. iSpace is equipped with fast Internet access and Wi-Fi service. iSpace is one of the stop for international investors looking for the next great startup to emerge from this promising region.

We will also host a regular stream of visiting global speakers. iSpace is currently the only innovational hub where tech stakeholders and creative industries stakeholders can meet and exchange ideas.

The iSpace initiative:

Provides a space for tech enthusiasts to meet, collaborate and network. 

Host events and training that improve the capabilities of the local tech community.

Host and provide space that meet the needs of the local tech community.

Liaise between the local tech community and the global tech community.

3. How did the idea come up?
We first met in 2011 to host the first mobile apps event in Ghana, we discussed some of the problems facing the tech communities, the common themes, where lack of resources, funding and space to enable development. We decided to start iSpace which will be open innovation co-working space for the tech community in Ghana. What iSpace does differently is that we include the creatives in the startup ecosystem hence we have a rich blend of both tech and creative startups here.

4. How is the response so far?
The response has been positive, we have various entrepreneurs using the space for either business plan workshops or developers learning how to code/create apps using the various available platforms. We’ve had features from CNN, BBC and various other media outlets interested in work being done at iSpace.

5. What type of projects do you incubate?
Right now we are incubating a range of products and services, working on Education with E-Solutions, Health with iLife and Governance with Oderko. We also have people working on building apps for tourism, sports, music and a peer -to-peer lending platform called Lending Square. On a social development side we are working on encouraging the youth particularly women/girls into tech with both Tech Needs Girls and iDesign initiatives.

6. Which cool ones come to mind? 
The iDesign and Tech Needs Girls projects are very cool. iDesign is an illustrations workshop for ladies between 16 and 25 years while Tech Needs Girls is a series of workshops designed to introduce young ladies to programming and web design etc. These two programs are special because they introduce women into the tech ecosystem at a very young age. Through these workshops we are getting to see some great innovative ideas which can be developed into prototypes. iSpace is thereby laying a foundation for the next generation of the tech community in Ghana and that gives us hope to continue what we have started.

7. Why are you passionate about Africa?
We feel that where Africa goes or should go must be determined by “Africans”, we are not alone on that, there are so many thousands, even millions of Africans who feel the same way. Africa in all its glory is very much undiscovered and that offers the opportunity to those who want to grind out the daily challenges and come up with better solutions. Africa allows you to test your resolve, everyday we see people with limited resources trying to make it and that fuels the entrepreneurial spirit of what is possible.

8. What do you hope to achieve as iSpace?!
In the short term we just want to provide an enabling environment for startups, we want to use training workshops to encourage more developers to learn across all the mobile platforms. In the long term we want to see iSpace hubs in all the 10 regions of Ghana, we believe content can be created anywhere and by anyone as long as they have the resources and platform to do so.

9. Your final words?
Africa’s challenges should be seen as opportunities by entrepreneurs who then can focus on building products or services to meet them!

 

Photos courtesy of iSpace. 

Visit the iSpace website for more information. 

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African Blogger Awards
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Loving this new and unique approach to awarding. No voting is required, all you need to do is do your thing, create great content and you will be judged according to the traffic to your blog. Top Instagrammers and YouTubers are also welcome to join the party. Check it out here.

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pixelfable
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Reminds you of the different tales we heard as we grew up right? Only its digital. Check out Pixel Fable for cool African fables.

 

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Date:13 May 2014 to 14 May 2014
Location:Radisson Blu Waterfront, Cape Town
Time:All day
Fee:Check website for breakdown

Overview

Showcasing the rapid growth in the optical market in Africa, the conference will bring together insights and experience of operators and vendors assessing the massive technical challenges the industry faces to deliver high speeds, and ensure that networks are fast enough to handle the current and anticipated traffic demands. WDM & Next Generation Optical Networking Africa will embrace the ethos of the established and trusted European conference, gathering the entire optical ecosystem under one roof to speak and debate with the leading experts, experience live demos on the exhibition floor and make those important new contacts to drive your optical business into 2014 and beyond.

The co-location with Submarine Optical Networking will also offer a close examination of the optical technologies tailored to the harsh undersea environment of submarine telecommunications systems.

Visit the website and book your place.

Asilia's January Sale
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How can design and digital technology help take your business to the next level in 2014?

Asilia loves to explore different ways to capture and express the passion that you have for what you do, in the way you present yourself. 

We're offering 8 exciting packages, creating materials to help you build momentum to carry you all through 2014.

  • Present yourself in a professional and memorable manner with our stationery design and infographics packages.
  • Get traffic to your site with branded graphics to customise your digital media presence and expert consultation on your SEO. 
  • Get online with a Typepad blog or a simple, elegant Black White Simple website.
  • Engage and excite people with bespoke slides on your website or Black White Simple site.
  • Ditch photos and get yourself (or someone else) an illustrated portrait.

We're offering these packages at a special discount when you sign up in January. Find out more on the Asilia blog.

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Southern Sun Mayfair Nairobi
Date:12 February 2014 to 13 February 2014
Location:Southern Sun Mayfair Nairobi
Time:All day
Fee:Check website for breakdown

About the event

The Mobile Web Africa series of events is innovative and progressive in nature. 

The agenda for each event is split into ‘mini-sessions’ that consist of two presentations, roundtable discussions and then a traditional panel discussion. The roundtable discussions are a ten-minute opportunity for delegates to discuss the presentations they have just heard and to form questions for the subsequent panel discussion. This all contributes to the attendees enjoying a fantastic on-the-day experience and significantly improved outputs and networking.

Visit the website for more information and register here.

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