Tope Abayomi - Cocoa Developer Interview

Aaron Brethorst, April 08, 2013

Tope Abayomi

Cocoa Controls: Who are you? What do you do?

Tope Abayomi: I am Tope Abayomi, kind of a geek but I try to deny that, unsuccessfully :-). I run App Design Vault, where we give developers design templates to make their apps look good.

CC: What’s on your iPhone’s home screen?

TA: My most used apps are Flipboard, Twitter, Mail and Safari. I have attached a screenshot.

Tope's iPhone

CC: How, why, and when did you become an iOS developer?

TA: I started iOS development in 2008. I watched the Stanford CS193P development course led by Evan Doll and I was hooked. I had developed some Windows Mobile using the Compact Framework and it was kind of a horrible experience. iOS development with the animations and ease of getting something really good was a refreshing experience.

CC: What’s one mistake you’ve made that you won’t make again?

TA: Using QuartzCore to add shadows to views in a UITableViewCell. The performance of that app was so bad, it hurt.

CC: What’s the best decision you’ve ever made with your software development career?

TA: The best decision I have made was to quit my previous job and go independent with App Design Vault. First off, that freed me from having to code enterprise apps in C# and WPF. I hear the tools are now better though but mobile development and iOS specifically is so much more rewarding because you can have a product out in the market quickly and iterate on feedback from customers.

CC: What’s your favorite open source component? Why?

TA: AFNetworking – It makes it so easy to work with network resources.

Baker Framework – I use this in the Appville magazine and it allows you to get up and running with a Magazine app quickly

CC: What else should we know about you?

TA: Apart from being a software developer, I am also a Dad to a 2 1/2 year old son that is currently going through potty training so any tips you have are welcome :-). I am also an avid gamer, although “gamer” is a heavy word since I only play one game which is FIFA 13. If you want to have an online match-up, let me know.

CC: It seems like App Design Vault pretty much came out of nowhere about a year and a half ago, and now seemingly has a huge amount of mindshare among iOS developers. I see your site featured quite regularly on Joanna Wiebe’s Copy Hackers and Mobile Orchard, among other sites. When did you start the site, what was your motivation, and how have you made it as successful as it is today?

TA: I started the site in November 2011 and it came about as when I needed some really cool designs for my apps and I couldn’t get any good resources short of hiring a designer for $1000+. So I was basically scratching my own itch.

I think is it successful because it scratches the same itch for lots of other developers as well. We are not necessarily good at design but would love to make our apps look nice. It is also a lot of hard work trying to get the word out, pitching people to partner up and featuring your service/app to their audience, but that is needed to have a successful business.

CC: How long have you been working exclusively on ADV?

TA: Since November 2011, I made the jump and it’s been fun ever since.

CC: One of my favorite adages is that you shouldn’t mine for gold, but instead sell pickaxes, which seems to be pretty applicable to both of us. Any suggestions to would-be service providers on what to do or not to do to get their businesses off the ground?

TA: But in a way, it is also as hard to mine for gold as it is to sell pick axes. If you have an app or you are running a service like ADV, you still need to make people aware of your app/service and after that be able to convince them to spend money with you and buy stuff.

What has been most helpful for my business is writing guest posts for sites that have the audience I need: developers. I always come from an educational stand-point, meaning I write articles or make videos that teach or help developers.

And it doesn’t stop there, I also try to focus on good customer support. I try to help customers as soon as they have problems and I don’t want to come across like a corporation using company speak. I speak to them like we are friends (and I am really friends with lots of them, I exchange lots of emails on a daily basis). They all appreciate that.

CC: What’s been your biggest surprise with regard to ADV?

Seeing so many different implementations of the templates has been a surprise. I was concerned that a lot of the apps would look really similar but it seems everyone mixes and matches what they need from the templates.

Here is a list of some of them:

I’m always happy when I get an email from a customer that launches an app using any of our templates.

CC: What is your most popular theme? Any ideas as to why?

Foody is the most popular. That is a surprise too because it was one of the first 4 template and it still out-performs the others.

Even though there is this craze for a Flat UI, it still does well. I think developers really want to have a really unique design and the stitched leather really helps.

Follow Tope on Twitter

Tope’s projects on Cocoa Controls

Check out App Design Vault for iOS App Templates

Have a suggestion for whom we should interview next? Let us know at [email protected].