What was the scope of their involvement?
The Sneakers Agency has worked with us on a continuous loop, coinciding with iOS updates, especially since our app was created at the dawn of iOS. A lot has changed since then, and The Sneakers Agency has helped us keep the app running well for a significant portion of our users through every single iOS upgrade, which is no small feat, given how graphically intense and non-standard the app actually is. The Sneakers Agency has also provided advice on the evolution of the iOS and mobile markets, based on their experience with other clients. They’ve given us advice on how we should grow and what we should be doing to the app, technically speaking, to make sure that it remains competitive, proficient, and distributable.
Apple provides tons of standard components that can be integrated into apps—buttons, text entry, and so on. Our app not use many of those. Even the screen transitions are all bespoke, as are the backgrounds, inputs, and their reaction to interface changes. To do this in the first version of iOS was challenging, but, because it was still the "Wild West", it was easier. As we’ve moved on, Apple has tightened what we can do and purposely made things look and feel similar between different apps. It’s been quite a challenge to make sure that we’re still maintaining the fun, playful, and unique feel that we’ve worked hard to establish. The app has a visually rich, image-dense custom input and display.
The Sneakers Agency has advised us to take more standard approaches. They’re quite pragmatic, but they only had this approach in areas with little or no UI impact. Also, when something would’ve cost too much or been too difficult to achieve, The Sneakers Agency worked with us on getting te maximum value for the user while maintaining the strong brand. The Sneakers Agency has been very good at understanding how important the brand is and why it was created as it was. They’ve come to us as partners in maintaining that, while still not making us pay millions of dollars. They’ve also helped us with client engagements, which required website builds.
How did you come to work with The Sneakers Agency?
Their founder was referred to us by a recruiter. When our internal iOS developer left to pursue another opportuninity, we began looking for either a short-term or long-term replacement and found The Sneakers Agency. We interviewed them and were excited to see that their founder, Chris White, was an actual human being who not only knew how to structure, build, and support iOS apps, but how to speak with stakeholders about the technical limitations of and opportunities available within iOS.
iOS was still quite new, and the iPad had just been released. Our app coincided with the launch of the device, so there were few people who knew what they were doing and even fewer who could actually speak to me about the subject. Chris was one of the very few of the latter group.
How much have you invested with The Sneakers Agency?
In the first year, we were paying Chris around $50,000, but we were his main client, and he grew with us as we were developing the app. As he shifted more towards The Sneakers Agency and growing that business, our cost also went down. Our investment in iOS has shrunk, but we’re spending around $8,000–$10,000 for every yearly upgrade and a few other incremental changes. I would estimate that we’ve spent another $100,000 since our first year.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with them since before the company was called The Sneakers Agency, around 2013.