Last week I shipped an update to Easy Grade Free, my EZ Grader app in the iOS App Store. The actual changes in the app are minor (a new “iOS 7” icon and a slight color change, and a removal of the periodic nagging to rate the app. The bigger news might be that I have removed the paid version of the app from the App Store.

Easy Grade’s original icon was great, but it was far too detailed to fit in with iOS 7. I knew it needed to be updated, but I didn’t particularly want to pay for a new design at the moment. I kept hearing people on Twitter talk about this app called Sketch, so I thought I would try my hand at redesigning my icon. You could certainly make the argument that it looks like a non-designer made the new icon. As they say, Don’t Ship Programmer Art. Knowing this, I designed what I had in mind and asked for several people’s opinions as I iterated on it. I kept it on my Home Screen for a few days, and I think it fits right in. Oh, and yes, Sketch is an amazing program.

When I included the prompt to rate the app in Easy Grade Free, I didn’t particularly like the idea, but I told myself that this was the free version of the app, so let’s experiment. Then Gruber’s campaign happened, and while that alone didn’t convince me to remove it, it did help me make my decision. In the future, I hope to find a way to put an info screen with a button to rate the app, so that it’s a more user-driven action and so it never interrupts the user in the middle of a task.1

The other part of my decision to remove the rating prompt is because I removed the paid version from the store, effectively making Easy Grade Free the premium product. It always bothered me that searching for EZ Grader in the iOS App Store would return two almost identical apps. I felt like this was confusing. The free version is, for obvious reasons, getting significantly more market reach. From my business’s perspective, it is also receiving significantly more revenue. So I decided to consolidate into a single, free, ad-supported app and remove “Free” from the app name.

You’ll often see apps in the App Store that are free, but up-sell you with terrible In-App Purchases. This is mostly the case with games.2 I feel like Easy Grade offers a nice base level of functionality and is accessible to anyone with an iPhone (or Android) because it’s free. This will always be the case. And then, if for whatever reason a teacher needs to add the half points feature, they can spend $0.99 to upgrade. I feel like this is a fair compromise and benefits everyone.

PS - Unrelated to this blog post, props to Ken Lasko for calling me out on his blog for not posting regularly enough. I try not to post just to post, but this gave me a little kick in the pants to write about recent happenings.

  1. I’ve already got two reviews, with five ratings, which is hopeful. 

  2. I’m looking at you, Candy Crush Saga