Interview With The Developers of StockTouch

In this DevDialogue, we have a chat with the founders of StockTouch. StockTouch is an iOS App that presents to you your stocks in a revolutionary interface. While the response from the community about the App has been mixed, we take a look at the behind the scenes picture. This one is a good read.

1. How did you conceive the idea for the App?

Jennifer Johnson, co-founder and CEO of StockTouch, believed that there was an opportunity to reimagine financial information products for the Post-PC world. We then sat down and spent months prototyping ideas, and StockTouch emerged as a powerful new way to visually explore the market and get a visceral sense of trading activity at different time scales.

2. Do you think Apple’s offerings for developers for developing Apps is good? Are there any changes required?

Our core developer has been building Mac and iOS products for 15 years. We think that iOS gives us the ability to create more rich and immersive data experiences that are as engaging as games but true to life as the stock market.

3. What is your marketing strategy? What marketing techniques do you use to promote your App in this heavily competitive application space?

We are very focused on building the best products possible, and believe that our commitment to building the best product will result in satisfied customers who advocate for our products themselves. We are small and lean and do not have an in-house marketing person.

4. Can you describe your “Eureka” moment while developing the App?

Once we started to build StockTouch, it took a while until we were actually pumping live market data through the app. Until that point, there was always the question of whether you would actually get value out of this new experience. Once we turned live market data on and started to see the ebbs and flows of market activity, shifts across sectors, and view different measures over different time scales, we knew this app had some value. We started sharing it with folks in the finance business, and the common reaction was, “Cool! Now I want more.” So now we are working on delivering that “more.”

5. How did you come to decide the price that you would be charging users to purchase your App?

We did a survey of existing apps across different categories and asked people whom we trusted for advice. There’s not a lot of good information out there on the price elasticity of demand for apps. Someone should make an app for that 😉

6. How does your company deal with negative reviews? When can users access more stocks?

All apps in the App Store have to deal with the potential of negative reviews but here’s how we look at it: when we see a negative review, we see it as an opportunity to take constructive criticism from a customer, and turn that into a better product. Overall, statistics are on your side if you’ve got an app that people like – potential customers look at your reviews and star ratings and make an assessment as to whether they want to buy or download your app. We’ve had hundreds of ratings which reflect, in aggregate, a lot of happy customers.

7. What makes your UI so different? How did you conceive the idea? Is it really revolutionary enough?

Our UI is differenct because it’s a highly responsive wave to immerse yourself in a large data set. Call it an information browser. It’s different because it enables you to zoom into this data set, and more detailed information and data emerge as you zoom deeper. This zooming interface makes it really hard to get lost – just pinch zoom out and you’re back at the top level of the app.

Your question “is it revolutionary enough?” is an interesting one. We don’t really frame the process of building and improving our product way. Instead, what we ask ourselves, “Have we created the best possible experience for our customers?” Then we set about sweating the details over things like frame rate, interaction paradigms, cognitive models, data compression, affordances, and information architecture.