Little app, big day

Hokan and I published the first version of the Android DOT Placards app today.  We’re missing our professionally designed graphics and we have little clue about how to market it, but it seemed silly to wait any longer.  Time to learn by doing.

DOT Placards is Mark’s brain child and  ‘just’ a viewer for information that is otherwise available free on the web in the form of the PHMSA Emergency Response Guidebook.  But I think Hokan’s done a beautiful job of implementing it.  The one iPhone app we’ve found that does about the same thing is pretty much just  an index/viewer for the original Guidebook PDF pages and costs $7.99!  Our version reflows the text, making it more readable, is a much smaller download, and is FREE.

This free version is ad-supported, which is giving us important experience in how to implement the ads and drive ad revenue.  I don’t expect to use ads to support the RNFamily of apps, but it is good to know how to do it if we need to.

We’re hoping to soon bring out a for-pay version with no ads and some fun features for keeping track of when and where you were when you saw a particular placard.  Birders would call it ‘keeping a life list’ but I’m not sure quite what we’ll call it.

Actually publishing the app was the easy part of the day — the Android marketplace makes publication a nearly trivial exercise.  The exhausting part was trying to do a passable job with the marketing materials — the product blurb in the marketplace, the new PlacardApp web site, and the Google and AdMob advertising we bought.  I bought my first stock photograph from, which I only knew about because of Josh Dorrel’s StartWest presentation last week.   Mark, Hokan, and I put our heads together and came up with the various bits of text.  Stand back!  Geeks are loose in the marketing department!

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