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Last Saturday, I participated at another excellent iPhone/iPad huddle, the Hello Universe Seminar, hosted at CoWorking Fullerton by organizers Linus Lee and Rutger Hensel. It was a 1-day meetup to learn, share and connect – specifically, it was geared toward developers, product & graphic designers, UI designers, UX designers, business strategists, legal counsel, and current & future iPhone/iPad entrepreneurs.

The whirlwind day consisted of multiple tracks of 90-minute sessions to choose from including UX and Design, Coding, and Business Insights, filling the morning. Then, in the afternoon, we had a special panel of speakers share apps, code knowledge, legal advice, and additional practical business advice from successful “i-preneurs.”

Blazing Down the UX Tracks

The first session I sat in on was with product & graphic designers Craig and Greg. They shared their perspectives on good web design sensibility from the artistic and creative side, as well as emphasis on human-centered or user-centered design. Together the tag team presenters touched on a range of info on everything from the key elements of art theory, color, balance and the Golden Mean, to ergonomics and physical form attributes to consider with these new mobile devices. For example, did you know that humans have evolved to where our index fingers are no longer our dominant fingers? It’s the thumbs. Makes you wonder why, doesn’t it!?

The next session I joined was “UX Rocks”, presented by Amy Li of Meidesign. After that session, I have to say that Amy rocks and she did a stellar job of showing the full spectrum of the user experience design process and explaining her UX design philosophy. Amy designed the widely popular iPhone app – Have2P – which sends giggles across the room everytime it’s mentioned. The app was featured in the New York Times and Gizmodo. As you can guess by it’s clever name, you use the app to tell you where the closest potty is when you … have to pee! Amy described UX professionals as “misfits” – which I totally love because I think that’s very true, we have multiple interests and don’t just fit into one hole. We user experience folks love getting into not only the graphics design and visual design, but also people’s behavior, and the business side of things.

By demonstrating how the concept evolved from initial ideas to wireframes to visually treated screens, Amy helped clarify the thought process and iterative process that you should expect (and demand) when you work with an experienced UX designer or UI designer. She explained how her design philosophy of empathy design, keeping it simple, and surpise and delight applied directly to Have2P. She even shared strategic tips on cross promotion for other spin-off products and graphics used in marketing and co-branding programs. The presentation ended with a look at upcoming trends in mobile experiences such as augmented reality, biosensors, and combining speech with gesture – so those killer displays you’ve seen in movies like the Minority Report and Iron Man are just around the corner. Also, all you women out there, apparently we’re an untapped market as only 20% of the current apps are geared towards us. There’s lots of potential for growth here so let’s get cracking!

Lunch and Launch

Lunch consisted of homemade healthy food courtesy of Linus’s wife and a fun fast-pitch session for prizes. I love prizes (and feedback about ideas) so I jumped into pitching my idea. Eleven of us had the chance to pitch an idea or an actual working concept for a new app in a 60-second “mini-mercial”. The rest of the seminar-goers voted by an applause-o-meter that measured actual decibel levels.

Afternoon Insights from the Field

Afternoon treats included guest speakers, John Safyurtlu of General Counsel, Alex Miyamura of Simpaddico and Burstly, Steve Rassmussen of eCasa, Inc., and Martin Perez of JPL.

John helped us navigate the waters of business entity selection and recommended contracts that developers and designers should have in place when getting into the app biz.

shared his first-hand insights on how to monetize an app, explaining that an IS is a business and that we should focus on the revenue sources that really matter and that we can control. He presented 3 models of direct revenue including paid, ad supported, and Lite+Full/Freemium.

Steve covered the in’s and out’s of how to turn your website or web application into an iPhone-friendly format using the things we web developers are already familiar with: HTML, CSS and Javascript. He recommended PhoneGap as an open-source platform for developing designs for multiple devices that render through the on-board web browser. So it works on Android and the iPhone/iPad, and also Windows and Blackberry with a little extra work. According to Steve, PhoneGap is still compliant with the guidelines of the App Store as it still works within Objective C and Xcode natively, a strong concern for developers with the recent changes to the App Store guidelines.

Martin shared his work on the Space Images iPhone app for JPL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA. It’s pretty cool and if you have kids, super educational. Definitely check it out. Also, if you’re looking for something educational and fun to do with the family next weekend, think about going to the one-time-per-year JPL Open House Sunday, May 15-16, 9am-5pm.

The day ended with prizes! Alina of the LiFE Russian LiFE Russian iPhone app helped Linus present the goodies for presenters and the fast-pitch contest. And guess what?! I took third-place, winning an iPhone Sketchbook. If you know me, you know how much I love sketchbooks. Overall, it was a great day. Looking forward to seeing everyone again at the next event!

If you’d like to network with other smart folks in this space and you’re in the OC area, try joining this meetup for other mobile design and development adventures. To see more photos of the event, go to NomadChique’s Flickr or Tumblr.