Uppercut loves cats

Why Everything is Better with Cats

I LOVE CATS. If you're a cat-person, you'll understand the many reasons why cats are so lovable (for their adorable personalities and endless hours of entertainment they provide). YouTube should be called CatTube and don't even get me started on how many awesome cat memes are out there! #crazycatlady

Cat memes

The opportunity

When Meow Foundation, a Calgary cat-focused charity and humane society with a no-kill mandate, called us for creative and marketing help, you could imagine how excited we were [insert heart bursting emoji]. Art director, Shauna Hartsook, described the opportunity as a "dream job" [insert hands clapping emoji].

Since 2000, MEOW Foundation has been rescuing and facilitating the adoption of stray and abandoned cats into new, loving, permanent homes. In addition to their Rescue and Adoption program, MEOW Foundation offers a subsidized Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP)Cat Food Assistance Program and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Program for cats living in the Calgary community.

By taking a humorous and lighthearted approach, we created a campaign for 2016 around the idea that everything is better with cats. To help generate support from the public, we created a betterwithcats microsite, advertising on public transit (your commute home made better with cats), and large life-size cat stickers for shop windows – all promote the hashtag #betterwithcats.

Uppercut donated additional hours to help extend their small budget for this "good for your soul" project.


betterwithcats window sticker

Advertising on public transit.

More about the project

Uppercut importance of design

The Importance of Good Design in Apps

Design is an important principle of innovation that is often overlooked in many web and mobile apps. The app market is competitive, and it sort of makes sense to why companies want to quickly launch an app. However, not taking the time to figure out the design – UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) – can lead to frustrated users because they don’t know how to navigate your app. In addition, making multiple pivots during development (without a good plan from the start) can be costly.

As a creative director, I explain the importance of good design is beyond having something that looks nice, it’s about creating a pleasant user experience from beginning to end. If you’re building a house, I don’t just want to know how you want your house to look but I will also want to know: Why do you want this house? How long do you want to live here? Where will it be built? Who will live in this house? You get the point. Very often during the design phase, we’re identifying potential user obstacles and strategizing for how to overcome them. Design should be considered right from the start because it determines how the app will look and function before it’s made.

Design is not a superficial investment. The level of fanciness is governed by your budget and business goals. Take the time to explore the user’s experience from beginning to end because that is where you will find opportunities to differentiate yourself from the competition.

What is good design?

Good design defines a product’s identity through creativity and functionality. It’s nicely explained by Dieter Ram’s ten principles of good design:

  • innovative (design works in tandem with technology)
  • emphasize the usefulness of a product
  • aesthetically pleasing
  • make a product understandable
  • unobtrusive and fulfill a purpose
  • honest and deliver on its promises
  • long-lasting
  • thorough with details (care and accuracy show respect towards the user)
  • environmentally-friendly (consideration of its lifecycle)
  • simplicity (less, but better)

Why does good design matter?

Creating amazing brand experiences will help create customer loyalty. Good design is necessary for changing and affecting a business’ profitability. Fast Company posted an excellent article on ‘Why good design is a finally a bottom line investment,‘ explaining how design has helped transformed companies and modern startups.

There is proof that design does affect profitability. Adobe posted an article on ‘The Importance of Design for Business‘ with some fascinating stats:

  • Design-driven companies have outperformed the S&P Index by 219% over ten years
  • Nike’s CEO is a designer
  • 13 of the 2014 Fortune 125 companies have executive-level positions or CEO support for design
  • Companies that foster creativity enjoys 1.5x greater market share

Start with the design before you begin to code.

Designing your app before you build it can allow you to get it in front of your users faster by using a prototyping tool like Invision (transform designs into clickable and interactive mockups.). This stage can help you to gather valuable user feedback on the UI and UX, and help developers plan out the building of the app.

Camp Festival even app by Uppercut.

Uppercut uses Invision tool for app design and UX.

We used Invision to mockup our initial wireframes and design flats for the Camp event app to help us validate our strategy, and identify technical issues way before development begins. Starting a project with design also helped us control the scope of work and timeline.

If you have an idea for a web product or mobile app and are in need of some UI and UX help, get in touch with us to see if we’re a good partner to help you bring it to life. You can also learn more about our product development process.

What makes an app idea good?

Is Your App Idea Good or Bad?

A while ago, there was a lot of media attention around a particular app and many more criticisms posted online because of its controversial idea, to allow humans to rate other humans based on personal, professional or romantic experiences. The consensus was that this app would enable online harassment. So why did this app get built? Isn’t this just a bad app idea to begin with?

Coincidentally, we were asked to quote for the design and development of this app project but we were not hired to build this app. In those early discussions, we had called out the potential harassment and offered some ideas on how to avoid these issues. Our team didn’t feel so great about the idea without major modifications to it. From our perspective, it’s unfortunate really, all that time and money invested in building the app that could have been avoided if the idea was validated in the first place.

How can you tell if you have a good or bad app idea? You’ve asked a few friends/colleagues and they all think its great, is that really enough? What if you’ve asked three people and two of them don’t think it’s great, is that enough to shut it down? Rather than relying on the opinions of a few people, collect info and data to validate if you have a viable app idea. Some of the most successful apps out like Instagram, have gone through iterations by responding to user feedback.

The app projects we have the most fun creating doesn’t necessarily start out with a perfect idea, it comes from partnering up with the right people who are open to feedback, sharing a common goal in wanting to make a great product and building it the right way.

You have an app idea, where to begin?

Start by defining the problem you’re trying to solve. What are your business objectives and how do you define success? Do some preliminary research by looking at the competition and who are the customers you’re trying to attract? If there is a lot of competition, where are the opportunities for you to do it better or differently?

One method that many startups and companies (including ourselves) often start with is the business model canvas: to help define, design, challenge, and pivot the business model. It’s a visual way to describe your product’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers and finances.

If you don’t know, that’s alright too, find a trusted app studio to help you sort it out and do it before you get into the design and development stages. Create a plan to help you define your minimum viable product (MVP) and be open-minded to the feedback you gather along the way. Feedback from your core users are not simply positive or negative reviews, it can be very insightful and spur some “ah-ha” moments to help make your product even better.

Be Brave and Ask Tough Questions

We acknowledge that our clients have a wealth of knowledge about their companies and customers, but our job is to challenge assumptions and play devil’s advocate along the way to help ensure you’re building a great product. In fact, to only be agreeable would be a disservice to our clients. Like any expert, we’re hired to help bring a different perspective, our technical and industry knowledge, and most importantly, help you identify the opportunities. We like to recommend some form of validation of your app because it turns assumptions into real data.

Creating and launching a new app can be a big challenge but it can also be a very exciting and rewarding experience. Understand the process from start to finish and be ready to pivot if the feedback is indicating to do so.

At Uppercut, our motivation is to help make people’s lives better through design and technology. We like to partner with people who share a similar vision and are excited about their ideas. To learn more about our process and how we can work together, visit Uppercut’s services.