We're delighted to welcome our guest blogger this week - Masterclass Teacher and Natural Chef Ceri Jones of Natural Kitchen Adventures.
Ceri shares her journey of how to develop a recipe app.
The Natural Kitchen Adventures App - nurtured by nature, a seasonal approach to healthy eating
Releasing an app was not initially on my ‘career goals to do list’. However a recipe book was, so when an opportunity from a very small iphone app development company came along I thought well why not? Financially we would work on a 50/50 profit share of the app after Apple have taken their cut, so it sounded like a fantastic way for me to get my recipes packaged into an app (a modern book?) with the only costs being my time and ingredients. I had nothing to loose.
We decided that 40 recipes (which grew to 50) would be sufficient for an app to be priced between £2-3. The content would comprise favourite recipes from my blog, as well as some new ones. Some of the new recipes came from my archive of not yet blogged or photographed cooking class recipes (some I’d taught at Made in Hackney) and others I’d cooked on the yoga retreats I cater. The remaining new recipes I went on to develop aimed to plug the content gaps and add variety. However a real benefit of an app over a book is that no decision is final. We could always add additional recipes after publication.
The development process took a long time. We were fitting in work on the app around other work, so it was important for me to set my own deadline to submit all the text and photographic material. I also had to write an app store description, which a copywriting pal of mine kindly assisted with. The recipe text was written up in an excel document to sync with the development software which made editing a challenge. There are some photographs in the app I don’t like very much, and in an ideal world I’d have shot them all with one design concept (or hired someone to do it for me). I decided for my sanity, timeframe and budget that we just had to live with what we had.
Half way through the process I decided that the app needed more of a unique focus, something to give added value. I decided to hone in on eating seasonally, a principle I have a strong growing voice for, and something many people just don’t think about. In came a seasonal eating guide and also a function for sorting recipes by season. This change added much time to the development process, but I feel it’s one of the app’s strongest assets.
To test the app I download a beta version and I also asked some friends and colleagues to look it over. Our job was to make sure all errors were noted. I also asked for any suggestions on improving usability. The typos seemed never ending, but finally it was submitted to Apple for approval and release. This last bit happened quicker than we expected so the app was living a secret life on the apple store for a few weeks while we prepared a PR strategy for launch. I told no one!
Launch day was in early November 2016, and I had an instant positive response on social media and from my blog readers, students and colleagues. I reached number 16 in the UK food and drink charts on the app store that day. Downloads have since been very modest. I am currently working with a PR to help gain some coverage, most of which won’t come to fruition till the new year because of publication lead times. I’ve self-funded the PR work from my savings; its been the most expensive bit of the process so far, but one could argue the most important.
It was difficult to know what to expect, and I was (and still am) aware that competition is tough. However I am incredibly proud of all the work we (the developers, myself, and all my friends and family who have contributed in some way however big or small) have done to create an app that will inspire people to get in the kitchen to cook healthy and delicious seasonal recipes from scratch.
Click here to get App link It's a bargain priced at only £2.29 (less than a cup of expensive trendy Hackney coffee)