2016 was an interesting year; with chaos and a huge amount of uncertainty all around the globe. Watching the year quickly zoom by, we kept ourselves busy releasing a major update to our iOS app, Snug for Instagram, along with a complete revamp of our Tumblr Stalkr app. And finally, we released our new SaaS product, Fetch. And breathe....
Having celebrated our second birthday, we started the year with determination in mind – to shift ourselves away from the digital agency lifestyle into the software as a service (SaaS) marketplace. Compared to the pool of other agencies in the Cheshire area, we are just babies. But we knew, given our background and expertise in development and social media, that we wanted to—and had—the skills capable of building a platform that combined our knowledge of both sectors. The platform aspired to open doors for brands to harness the power of user-generated content in their marketing strategy; and Fetch was born.
At the start of 2016, we'd mapped out the project lifecycle and broken the entire development down into agile phases. Simple, right? Q1 flew by and thanks to our very enthusiastic Creative Director (apparently it's his New Year's resolution to be less pedantic) we already had about a dozen designs and UI overhauls. Designs, designs, designs! We were fighting a battle against ourselves. Though the outcome was slightly more positive – do more extensive planning.
Every problem has a solution. You just have to be creative enough to find it. – Travis Kalanick, Uber.
With that said, we stepped up our efforts of creating and planning through extensive Google documents and spreadsheets. And yes, they were very colourful thanks to our design team… But it was the best thing we probably did. By the end of August, after what felt like a thousand team meetings and directional changes – we were ready to start testing our prototype. In all honesty, it wasn't everything we had on our list, but it was enough for us to start planning our business and marketing strategy.
At the end of Q3 we opened the doors and officially launched Fetch. Wanting to have a soft-launch, we exclusively invited our clients and marketing directors to trial out and relay feedback on the platform. At the start of October we were in talks with Photobox to host their Christmas event – the Photobox #GiftyGrotto.
We spent the full 3 months pulling in a huge marketing effort, setting up email marketing, behavioural marketing triggers, landing pages and our CPC and display ads. But our traction was very slow and we struggled to convert over 75% of trial signups. The more research we did, the more we realised that the marketplace for a social media aggregator and content curation platform was crowded and that we really had to innovate and provide a unique feature set.
Our industry does not respect tradition - it only respects innovation. – Satya Nadella, Microsoft.
Overall, 2016 was a very stressful year. We had our ups, but mostly setbacks followed by more setbacks. The learning curve was extremely high and we all had to adapt and take on more roles than we ever thought we would. But we start 2017 with our entire year of learning, adapting, and overcoming our problems. We've got a lineup of exciting events all around the globe that Fetch will showcase at and we look forward to growing Fetch into the product we want it to be.
Snug for Instagram
It was a volatile year for Instagram and we saw a complete rebrand that got people talking (for better or worse). Alongside their rebrand, Instagram unveiled a new modern and sleek look to their apps that put all emphasis on user media. We saw the additional of Instagram Stories, Live Video, new moderation features, the ability to like comments, Instagram for Business, Instagram Analytics and finally, the addition of multiple accounts.
We wanted to ensure our Snug kept up with all the changes Instagram introduced so we completely re-designed our UI to mirror that of Instagram's. We transformed everything into a flush white layout that let our Instagram users truly see how their next photos will sit alongside their current content.
In the Summer, we experienced what really sucks about developing an iOS app. Crash reports. We spent the good part of the entire month trying to locate a single bug that we'd had reported to us for a while. Hours and hours poured into scouring every line of code around where the crash was being reported in an attempt to find what turned out to be a one letter typo. It happens!
It's hard enough to find an error in your code when you're looking for it; it's even harder when you've assumed your code is error-free. – Steve McConnell, Software Engineering Author.
At the start of Q3, we refactored all of the Snug codebase and provided support to all our dependencies to migrate over to Swift 3. Surprisingly, it went smoothly. We continued to release a handful of minor updates and watched as Snug climbed its way up into the charts. By the end of September, Snug was 5th in Photography across the United States and 30th in the overall charts. Snug continued to climb and reached top 20 in 56 countries. We had more downloads in October than we had in the entirety of the Snug life cycle to date.
At the start of November, we dropped an update to all our Snug users for a much requested feature, multiple accounts. The update enabled brand and social media managers to effortlessly switch between feeds and preview their different images on each.
In 2017, we look forward to introducing several new features and continuously improving the functionality that Snug offers.
New Year, New Ideas
Overall 2016 was a truly eventful year. Alongside our three main products, we launched new websites for RMG, Deli-Vert, Notting Hoole, Dyson Energy Services, EbonyRose, Minchin Fellows Estate Agents, My Red Delicious, Digital Exposure and iGamingSports; all while providing continuous development for Recify, The Bridal Company and a handful of exciting startups!
Focus on the long term, and always do what's right to grow the company and not make short-term decisions. And outlast everyone. – Adam D'Angelo, Quora.
As 2017 kicks off, we've got doodles and notes spread across every whiteboard. We look forward to growing our products, team and opportunities available at Made by Magnitude.