Zeek Interactive launched on June 1, 1995 as a the next great CD-ROM game company. And CD-ROM games died on June 2, 1995. (Google it. That’s the actual date. Not really.) We learned quickly to adapt with the times. We have been a Shockwave game company, a Flash developer, a kiosk developer, and a web developer. Now, 20 years later, we focus on 2 core competencies: mobile and WordPress development.
I started this company purely out of naiveté. Zeek had no clients, zero prospects and no business plan. But what we had was a passion for digital stuff. We didn’t make a dime for the first year and a half, but I spent my time telling anyone who would listen about my ideas. And then, we landed our first client: Lynda Keeler. She hired us to develop 5 Shockwave games (hey, remember Macromedia Director?) for the movie Multiplicity. And things took off from there.
These days, we are developing and maintaining websites and apps for Fortune 500 companies, large news portals, lifestyle brands, academics…the list goes on. We work hard to create customized solutions for our clients’ business needs, and I couldn’t be more proud of my team.
Beyond the work produced at the office, Zeek is also the home of Orange County, CA’s WordPress meetup community, hosting three meetings each month for designers, developers, and users of WordPress. All the work we produce is powered by WordPress (yes, even our apps), so it’s important to us to give back. WordPress is open source in every sense of the idea, and it’s a privilege to be able to provide space for the unrestricted exchange of knowledge and ideas, helping make current developers better while creating a space for up-and-comers to hone their skills. I first met half my team at our meetups.
While it’s anyone’s guess what interactive technology will be available 20 years from now, Zeek looks forward to finding out. We’ll still be here.
If you are like many business owners, all you want is an app that works. Discussing native, web or hybrid platforms for your mobile app may be a conversation that causes your stomach to churn. Yet, it doesn’t have to be that complicated.
In general, a native app is one that is built for a specific platform, such as an iPhone iOS system or an Android phone. A native app functions uses functions already inherent in the device (pinching or tapping), allows for faster translation of graphics and relies on the security and features already used on the mobile device. This can mean developing two separate amazing apps rather than one that shows decently across the board to accomplish the same goal.
Hybrid apps combine both native and web concepts, and can be an excellent choice when developed by someone with the right experience.
Deciding Between Native, Web or Hybrid Apps – The Choice Is All About Functionality
The key when using native and hybrid apps is an awareness that technology changes at an extremely rapid pace. Native features are tied to platforms and their associated APIs so must be maintained and updated more frequently. When a new feature rolls out, the user must update the app rather than having it change automatically.
HTML5 development allows for easier maintenance but it makes your user have to try something new, rather than relying on familiar mobile interfaces, an issue particularly in cases where secure sign-on is important. It can also pose a problem when integrating mapping features or calendars, functions that are easily integrated in native development.
At Zeek we build adapt apps to our clients’ needs. When versatility is a key component or security is an essential concern, we use native apps. Other scenarios may have us suggesting a hybrid. Both options require maintenance as platforms develop and needs change, and we understand that and plan for it.
At Zeek we solve a lot of problems and clean up after a lot of developers. We get a lot of questions regarding app development and mistakes developers make when going mobile. We also talk to a lot of developers to understand their process. It seems that many of us have similar experiences.
Are you making the 3 mistakes developers make when going mobile?
Expecting Overnight Success
While it is possible to develop an outstanding app on your first try, it is very unlikely. Most developers repeatedly knock their heads against walls for the first year trying and testing and launching products. It can take a long time for all the code to fall into place and create the app that delivers winning results. Not all developers will last to see that happen. If you can hold out and continue to develop ideas, chances are you will reach success so hang in there and learn all you can.
Expecting Word-of-Mouth to Fuel Downloads
Sorry to burst your bubble, but even the best apps need promotion to be successful. Along with your code development, a marketing plan is necessary to have your app launch well. If no one knows your app exists, it’s pretty much impossible for it to gain a following. Don’t let your app be a faceless creation – avoid the mistakes many developers make when going mobile – by developing your marketing strategy before your product launch. Ask yourself how you can make your app stand out in the crowded download market.
We were approached to develop an NFL app in 2010. It was called Last Drive and allowed for replays of real time plays. It reached a previously untapped market and was an instant hit. People loved it and marketing was easy because the audience was already established and welcomed the product. Innovation directed to the right audience makes your app stand out more quickly than word of mouth.
Expecting Someone Else’s Idea to Work For You
It seems so easy to follow the direction of other app developers. Perhaps you saw an innovative mapping tool idea and thought, I could do that. However, creating something better than the next programmer or jumping into a current app trend is not always as easy as it seems. And honestly by the time you’ve gotten there, the likelihood is that the market will already be flooded.
Don’t be afraid to be a trendsetter. Look around but keep your focus. Develop what you are passionate about and hold your ground. Be unique. Explore your niche. Leading-edge apps are not developed by imitating someone else’s product. Success evolves from passion for your product and the ability of our product to stand apart.
It’s what you bring to the project that makes your app stand out and makes you stand apart. Make no mistake – you define the project – you define the app. Going mobile is innovative, it’s risky, and – it’s worth it.
As I review the last year at Zeek Interactive, I realize we’ve experienced a lot of change and growth. As our focus has shifted to accommodate the needs of the ever changing responsive web environment, we have added team members and increased the quality of our support and products across the board.
Today, I’m excited to announce that David Arceneaux has joined us as a PHP/MySQL WordPress Developer. David has a long history with web development and coding, having created his first webpage in 1994 while in college. He literally grew up alongside the web. Back in 2008, he discovered the power behind WordPress and started attending local MeetUps. In the years since David has presented to developers and designers, introducing new WordPress tools in an effort to share his knowledge of how to build better code and apply it to design. David is an active asset to the WordPress and coding community and we are proud to have him on our team.
David looks to Don Knuth as his hero, amazed at his 15 years of dedicated research to Knuth’s TeX publishing system and the craft of creating beautiful text. David believes that designing a webpage is really about how you lay out text and honoring “the subtle rhythm of lines on a proper graphic grid.” He considers his approach to web development a true craft. David takes pride in his work and enjoys being able to say, “I made that. I built that.” When he’s not coding, David devours fiction and anything on the latest technology and playing what he terms nerd games – he recently discovered urban hiking! The best way to connect with David is via Google Hangouts.
Our clients may be the first to notice the extra care that David will bring to Zeek Interactive as he has already jumped in on several projects, but we’re sure you’ll start to notice changes as well. Over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting our team members on our blog. I am grateful to each of them for the role they play at Zeek, for their commitment to our growth as a company and to me personally.
Eric Dobyns was fascinated by iOS and came to Zeek seeking to learn more about iOS app development. His entry into the tech industry began at a point-of-sale company, where he was quickly pulled into the development department working on Order Entry, an enterprise iOS application. Long a fan of Elon Musk: founder of Paypal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, Eric understands the need for expansive thinking and pushing limits. His deft development skills have impressed all of us, but Eric is about much more than tech.
He’s a musician who has been featured on a number of albums published to iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. He’s worked in the restaurant business, the real estate business, and the music performance business. Eric also volunteers 150 hours per year at Camp4Kids, where he plans and hosts numerous fundraisers to generate funds to send children to camp. He’s definitely a productive guy, but Eric believes friends, family, and community should ALWAYS come first, and is often willing to relax and “hang out”, wherever coffee can be found.
Montrail Cooper had an interest in the tech industry long before he came to Zeek. Tech advances intrigued him from childhood and in November 2008 he determined to pursue his dream and enrolled in classes at ITT Tech Institute. After earning a Bachelors of Science, Monty welcomed the opportunity to develop and execute test strategies and test cases as a Lead Quality Assurance Engineer at Zeek.
Monty brings a colorful history of experience to Zeek, having been a real estate agent, mortgage loan officer, sales manager, and ammunition missile specialist in the US Army. He also possesses a strong background in 3G/4G/LTE technologies and layer-2 and layer 3 routing concepts. When not at work, Monty relishes playing speed chess and working out or dining at the local sushi bar or Korean BBQ.
As many of you know, I’ve been proud to know Steve Zehngut and call him a friend for more than twenty years. I’ve also been proud to work with him in partnership at RealEstateShows.com for the last 12 years and at Zeek Interactive for last five. The friendship that has endured several decades will continue to endure, but my relationship with Zeek is officially changing.
In October of 2013, I expressed my desire to focus on RealSatisfied and ended my daily management involvement at Zeek. Today my role at Zeek is now officially moving to that of “strategic advisor.”
Thank you to everyone who has supported my time at Zeek, especially those in the OC WordPress community. I’m sure I’ll be visiting from time to time. And while I have greatly enjoyed my time as President of Zeek Interactive, I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.