I started this app as a small side project. I had, still have, and will always have so much to learn about iOS Development, but while learning, I came to realize that no matter how many courses I took online, or how much I studied, there was no kind of experience like the experience you get from actually building something. So I combined the three things I love the most. Learning, coding, and Stephen King.
When I started working on The Nexus, I was originally going to call it “The Dark Tower”. For obvious reasons, or at least reasons that should have been obvious to me because of trademarks, I couldn’t. I decided to name it “The Nexus” based off of this quote from the The Gunslinger —
Suppose that all worlds, all universes, met at a single nexus, a single pylon, a Tower.
While I would have still preferred to use a name more directly connected to Stephen King, I thought based off of that quote that to me, sums of the entire Dark Tower series, The Nexus would work just fine.
I wanted to go for something bold for the icon design. Something that read well in the thumbnail, but that presented its own problem. I started off with a bold design for the tower, very simple since when the majority of people saw it, it would be a tiny icon on their phones home screen, but it was far too simple. The problem I soon encountered though, was the the more detail I included in the icon, the harder it was to read.
I started out with extremely simple geometric shapes that would be recognizable at a glance, which is mostly all these icons will get one someones home screen.
Landing Page Designs
Early on in the idea validation phase, I used landing pages to gauge the interest in the app before I started a single line of code. The pages I made were created in the voice of some of the major villains from that particular book, or in this example from The Shining, and invitation similar to the one Jack Torrance found in the boiler room of The Overlook Hotel. This method of idea validation worked, getting me over a hundred subscribers in a very short amount of time with minimal effort.
Quiz Cover Designs
By far one of the most enjoyable parts of creating this app was designing the covers for the quizzes. I would read each book, taking notes on interesting and unique visuals that stood out to me instantly. Images that popped in my head without much thought. In the beginning stages, I painted most of the covers, because a lot of my art and design experience comes from my painting background. But I had to shed that working on this app, because the tone wasn’t right.
By the time I had finished creating most of the architecture for the app, a vision of the feeling I wanted users to get from using the app started to surface. I started to embrace a more modern and simplistic graphic design than old school painterly illustrations, but the process really sold me on my new love for graphic design. I’ll always love the details and depth of meaning that paintings can create, but I’ve also grown to love simplifying an idea or a concept down to its simplest recognizable graphic form. There is so much art in simplicity.
Now that I’ve created a system for the way I take notes while reading the book, working on the trivia is a breeze. But in the end, I’ve had to reread some of the books multiple times, because I hadn’t yet figured out exactly what should be included in the app, and how to store the information. There are some things you only find out in the process of doing, and not in the process of planning. But besides designing the covers to each quiz, one of the most surprising parts of building the app that I found joy in was creating the fake answers to the trivia questions!
You can find the app in the App Store now! I’ve learned so much from the process of creating it, and I hope that you enjoy it! If you’re a Stephen King fan, I think you’ll particularly enjoy the sign up process. Check it out here!