Brian Dunagan

August 4 2011
Design Iterations for Dollar Clock

I shipped Dollar Clock 1.0 more than a year ago as an experiment. I wanted to submit an app to the App Store, and my friend and I came up with tracking how much money meetings waste. To date, the free app has had several thousand downloads on iPhone and iPad, a moderate success for a mediocre side project with no marketing.

1.0: Simple and Lame

The first iteration of the app was simple. That was my design goal: really simple. There were only two views: the money counting and the settings. I limited input to two pickers for people and average salary. I designed the input this way to force the user to estimate the numbers, rather than be exact. I wanted people to use the app to estimate meeting waste.

The app was simple but lame. It lacked personality. Just look at it. I'm bored already. I even shipped 2.0 and 3.0, and both were such lackluster releases that I don't remember what they included. Something about iPad support and VGA support, I think. And that's my point. Even the developer didn't care about the app.

4.0: Snarky and Deeper

Recently, I decided Dollar Clock needed some love. The app needed a personality. What goes with a depressing clock counting monetary waste? Interesting images and uplifting messages.

I gave the app a voice. It iterates through a set of Flickr photos, each with a number of messages associated. Here are a couple examples:

  • You're not special. Neither is this meeting.
  • Does someone have the notes from the pre-meeting?
  • More people make meetings less effective. Leave. It'll help.

Furthermore, I was wrong about input. The most common request for the app is more customization for salary input. My original problem with this was complexity. I didn't want to make the salary input hard, for people to use or for me to code. But I like this new version. People click the "Add Salary" row. They can type in number for people and a salary and save it. It's just another salary row. Simple but flexible.

Dollar Clock is available on Apple's App Store, free for iPhone and iPad. Try it out! Let me know what you think.

Dollar Clock 4.1 Dollar Clock 4.2
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