A Swift Summer

As summer draws to a close, I have been looking back and reminiscing about the past few months. I can’t help but feel like time has gone by too fast. This summer has been one of the most fun and productive periods of my life. I joined the crew at Prolific a little over three months ago as an iOS engineering intern and have enjoyed every minute of my time here.

I first heard about Prolific from a friend when we were both looking for iOS engineering positions to fill our time during the summer break from Binghamton University. He suggested that I look into mobile agencies like Prolific, rather than the companies and start-ups I had been considering. I was skeptical at first. I was not familiar with Prolific by name and wasn’t even sure I wanted to work for an agency. A quick look at the company’s portfolio over the past five years immediately turned me around.

Stepping Out Of The Classroom

From the very first day, the Prolific Peeps (commonly referred to as P’s) were very welcoming and receptive to my questions and ideas. After a two week ramp-up period of working on internal projects, I was brought into an ongoing project for a well-known retailer. In my Computer Science classes at school, I became used to coding in a vacuum and solving problems in carefully controlled environments. While working at Prolific, however, I experienced flexible timelines and was part of a team progressing towards the release of a live app, receiving constant input from the clients. I helped build a custom parallax page viewer for filtering products, and worked with designers to quickly prototype features and iterate upon them until they felt just right. All of this taught me valuable lessons about working with a team and approaching software development with flexibility and expansion in mind.

Finding Camaraderie

The team at Prolific is a fun-loving bunch. This is one aspect I did not expect coming in but one that attracts me the most to this company.  Over the course of three months, I have grown to love the camaraderie of the folks here, especially the iOS team. The highlight of the summer for me was the trip I took to San Francisco with the Prolific iOS crew to attend The 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference. I was only one week into the internship at the time of the trip, so it served as a great icebreaker for the team and me to get to know each other. We attended the famous Apple keynote together and geeked out over programming languages and new iOS APIs.

As excited as I am about going back to school and enjoying college life for one last semester, I also wish that I could continue working at Prolific and spending time with the team. I know I will fondly remember the summer I spent here in Brooklyn.

  • Htin Linn

Want to get featured in the Google Play Store?

Play Store Feature Screenshot

Just a few months ago, Prolific helped launch the Udacity Android app to the Play Store over the week of Google I/O. Now, the app has an average rating of over 4 stars and hundreds of thousands of downloads. We couldn’t have seen this success without the Play Store Business Development (BD) team there to help us get featured for the launch, but it wasn’t as simple as getting someone to flip a “featured” switch. There were a lot of technical and design-related hurdles to overcome in order to meet Google’s standards for a featured app. In this post, I’ll highlight what I thought were some of the most important requirements we encountered in the process, and hopefully make your next featuring process more seamless.

The Checklists

First off, the requirements that Google enforces are actually all publicly listed on the Android Developer website under Essentials for a Successful App. I strongly recommend going through each of these and making sure you comply with everything. Seriously–everything. The documents are fairly short, and the Core App Quality section has checklists with IDs that the internal team most likely uses to check your app against, verbatim. From the start, make sure your app is following the correct guidelines for design, functionality, and performance. Having to update these areas in your app last minute (while you’re up against a release deadline) is no fun.

Pure Google

When it comes to design, make sure your team is designing for Android and not just porting assets over from an iOS design. In the developer guide, there is a great Pure Android section that points out common design do’s and don’ts when comparing styles between Android and other platforms. Make sure you follow closely! Another personal pet peeve of mine (and Android Developer Advocate Roman Nurik) is when apps block the UI with loading dialogs that you can’t escape. And yet, I still see it in a lot of apps. It’s bad UX, and I doubt the Google designers will be happy with your product if you do it.

For those who really want to go the extra mile (maybe to make up for other areas that may not be conforming to spec), I urge you to explore “Pure Google” in addition to Pure Android. This means using added features like a Google+ login, Google Wallet payments, etc.

Tablet Support

Another important trend I noticed through our interactions with Google was their strong insistence on tablet support. From what I can tell, proper tablet support is very high on their list of requirements for an app feature…so you better have tablet-optimized layouts. This also inherently means you need to support landscape orientation throughout your app, or have an extremely good reason not to.

This doesn’t mean an app needs to have dual pane designs everywhere at launch, but large amounts of white space or super long line lengths on tablets should be avoided, as stated in the Tablet App Quality doc. This was probably one of the most common problems with the Udacity app pre-launch. However, we quickly tweaked our layouts and used Android’s wonderful resource qualifiers to fix up our line lengths and paddings to be tablet appropriate.

Make a Beautiful Play Store Listing

Finally, I have to address the actual Play Store listing. This is composed of everything that the user sees before they click “Install” (and yes, on Android it’s called click, not tap). Just like everything else, there’s a checklist for this under Core App Quality: Play Store. The focus on tablets shows up again here; you should most definitely include tablet screenshots in your listing if you want to appease Google. Another small but important critique you might receive as feedback is on the use of promotional screenshots. I’m referring to the recent trend of including Android device frames showing the app, surrounded by extra promotional text in the “screenshot” image. While this isn’t directly discouraged by Google, they do want you to include some full-sized screenshots next to your promotional images for good measure.

And everything else

Again, this post isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide by any means (that’s what Google’s checklists and guides are for), but a friendly reminder of some of the important details to keep in mind throughout the creation of your app, especially if you’re expecting to be featured. Once they’re part of your workflow, it becomes easier to create an experience that your users, and Google, will quickly feel comfortable with and approve.

  • Vince Mi

From Marketing to Mobile, Flatiron to Dumbo

It wasn’t long into my first conversation with Bobby when I was struck by just how unique Prolific actually is. It’s one thing for a company to be a development shop, and another to be a creative agency, but it’s an entirely different challenge to exist in both creative and development. I continued to learn about Prolific and became enamored with the idea of being able to influence the products being developed, as opposed to checking off boxes on a list in order to prove to a client we are delivering what they asked for. Instead, to help the client understand what they were asking for, and how best to deliver it, seemed like a very unique undertaking.

I wasn’t looking for a new job the first time I walked through the doors of Prolific Interactive. I was not a mobile specialist; I wasn’t even focused on just how impactful the mobile space truly is. The first time I walked into Prolific I was following up, trying to learn–and above all else–I was just curious.

Brooklyn’s Abuzz

There’s an almost tangible energy abuzz inside the office here. The best way to describe it is excitement mixed with uncertainty. It’s clear everyone knows that what we’re doing here pushes the envelop of mobile design. It’s not that we’re creating crazy new ideas that are meant to change the world, but instead applying our own unique point of view and impacting a relatively new space–one that continues to develop standards, best practices, and procedures. What’s uncertain? Everything. In an industry that develops new technologies on a weekly basis, and improvements almost daily, how could anything be concrete? Well, let me rephrase. While the individual advancements may be uncertain, one thing is clear. Prolific will continue to lead and engage the mobile community in new, innovative, and impressive ways. No one here doubts that, and it’s part of what makes Prolific such an amazing place to work everyday.

Once I arrived at that conclusion, I could no longer convince myself of anything else. I needed to work here.

New Doors, New Challenges

About a month ago I walked through the doors at Prolific in a new capacity: I worked here. Excited, nervous, apprehensive–all words that describe the first time I realized I really had left my job in Manhattan and decided to take the leap across the bridge. I can say with unequivocal certainty that I’m glad I did.

This first month at Prolific has been challenging to say the least. I’m learning an entirely new industry, a new field of study, a new medium. But beyond challenging, its been fun; every day is filled with a different set of obstacles and decisions. There are always reminders that while I am by no means an expert in the field, the people surrounding me are. And the most amazing part of it? They want to share what they know.

See-Thru Walls

We chastise the idea that there should be an opaque divider separating us from our clients, and instead we share our knowledge through a transparent relationship with our clients. The entire process is collaborative and iterative. No idea is ignored based on where it comes from. We try new things, even if we know they won’t work, just to see how or why they fail. And while the screen sizes of our devices continue to grow or shrink and the methods of device interactions continue to evolve and mature, there is a seemingly constant idea embedded in the ethos of Prolific. Technology advances and so do we. And because we’re on the cutting edge, there is no one to tell us what’s right or wrong. We get to drive innovation in the industry and through that innovation build lasting relationships with our clients. Needless to say, I finally feel like I’m somewhere I’m going to stick around for a while.

Let’s see what we can build together.

  • Max Dowaliby

#WEAREPROLIFIC: One Month As A New P

I filled the first weeks of summer with Netflix and endless job-hunting, demolishing Parks and Recreation, Lost and Orange is the New Black within the span of two months. Even I was impressed by the extent of my binge-watching.

I recently graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in English and film studies and the determination to find a job in the media industry. Ignoring family and friends who insisted that I might have to settle for a less-than-perfect position right out of college, I set my sights on New York and trolled the internet for unique companies that would let me put my liberal arts education to good use. I cursed the completely impersonal and frustrating experience of online applications and considered un-friending any classmate who posted a Facebook status about how they were officially employed by their dream company. Finally, after weeks of slow and minimal progress, I stumbled across the Prolific website and discovered a team of friendly faces and a portfolio of exciting mobile work. I decided to send an inquiry by email, and the rest is (very recent) history.

Love what you do

One of my main criteria while looking for my first “real” job was finding a company culture that would make me excited to go to work every day. I found that in spades at Prolific. I received the warmest welcome from everyone on the team and was quickly accepted by a group of people who truly love what they do. Everyone here is clearly passionate about our partnerships, our products, and mobile in general. Plus, they genuinely like spending time together, both within and outside of the office. I feel very lucky to have found such a close community here after saying goodbye to the community I had built over four years at Conn. It’s certainly something that has made the transition into the real world a little easier, and I can’t wait to get to know everyone even better as time goes on.

Already I am challenged every day at Prolific. I didn’t know much about the mobile space when I arrived here, with most of my knowledge stemming from the apps I use on my iPhone. I quickly learned that this minimal understanding didn’t begin to cover the amazing things that can be done with mobile devices and the impact they can have for businesses and every-day users. Through introductory meetings with Prolific team members, I slowly began to understand Prolific’s unique approach to this red-hot industry, and grew more and more excited at the prospect of being involved.

A prolific team

As Prolific’s Community Manager, I don’t work specifically with one department and have therefore had the opportunity to interact with a large portion of the Prolific team. This has allowed me to learn a lot very quickly, simply by asking questions and having conversations with many different people. I am constantly astounded by the amount of talent and skill housed within this growing agency, but even more inspired by the endless flow of ideas and strong desire for growth amongst the whole team. I hope to be of some help as Prolific progresses towards bigger and better things in the near future, and can’t wait to document and share Prolific’s story with an ever-growing audience. (I also still can’t believe that instagramming and tweeting about these awesome people is a part of my job description.)

It’s an exciting time to be a new P. I look forward to exploring what my role means here and growing along with Prolific as we expand and change for the better. I’m already pretty convinced that the team is going to change the world — using only pocket-sized smartphones.

  • Bailey Bennett

Prolific Visits Alex and Ani

Last month, Prolific visited the Alex and Ani® headquarters in Rhode Island for a collaborative design studio session. Working closely together, the teams spent the day brainstorming, whiteboarding and planning key features for Alex and Ani’s new iOS app.

Here’s an inside look at the day.

  • Bailey Bennett