Bright Newt

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How to Reskin an App When You Don’t Know How

Published October 29, 2013

Hi. I’m Tyler, a musician and creative consultant. I have a confession to make…I don’t know much about apps. In fact, if you’d asked me how to reskin an app a couple of months ago, I would have raised an eyebrow and changed the subject.

I joined the Bright Newt team about a year back. My boss, Austin, was already deep into his journey of self-taught app development. I watched him email designers and programmers, update iTunes Connect, and talk in gibberish about Xcode, Objective-C, and Java. I felt out of my depth. It wasn’t his fault, mind you. I just hadn’t been exposed to that world yet.

I went to college. I got a degree in Psychology. I worked in coffee shops and played in bands. I’d had some experiences and am a fast learner, but when Austin hired me, I had no idea what I was doing. I started out by writing email newsletters and doing social media updates. I don’t think there could have been a less experienced creative consultant than I.

What if I learned how to reskin an app all by myself?

I also had no background in coding or development, much less Objective C and Xcode. (It’s okay if you don’t know what those are yet.) All this app stuff felt like a foreign language. My boss and all of his indie developer friends felt so hopelessly far ahead. How was I ever going to catch up?

Well, fast forward a year, and I’m still catching up. But I finally realized that it’s never too late to start. After all, the app ecosystem is in constant flux.

A couple weeks ago I had an idea: What if I tried to reskin an app all by myself? What if I walked myself through the whole process without Austin?

It seems like a no-brainer, but I hadn’t done it yet. I’d been helping people with app development without doing it myself.

After all, I am not a developer. Or am I?

Is it possible for someone with absolutely no app or programming experience to reskin a code and launch a new app? I wanted to find out.

Armed with one of Bright Newt’s codes, a basic reskin checklist we provide, and the my old friend The Internet, I leapt into the void.

Can I share my secret to success? Google.

Seriously, though. I answered almost every single one of my questions from Google searches.

One of my personal goals was to see how far I could get without asking Austin.

I started from square one. My first Google search was “how to edit app code.” It led me to a blog post that told me about Xcode. (I didn’t even know that yet!) I went and downloaded Xcode onto my laptop.

Next, I googled “Xcode tutorial.” I found a handful of free resources.

I started walking myself through guides and the reskin documentation that I had. When I would get to unknowns (which was frequent), I kept googling. At some times the answers were easier to find than at others, but I always found what I needed in the end.

The web is bursting at its binary seams with valuable tools: free icon templates, free tutorials, free online forums.

You name it, you can find it.

Probably every question you think to ask has been asked before. My advice? Learn how to dig. Learn how to search the web. The information you need is there. Maybe it’s not right on the surface, but guess what? You’ve only been looking for five minutes! Keep going!

I’m glad I didn’t deny myself the often exhilarating, often frustrating journey of trying to do it by myself. If I had just gone to Austin every time I had a question, I would have always been dependent on him (or someone like him) to make progress. Instead, I’ve learned how to be scrappy, how to take initiative and be resourceful and develop a set of habits and practices that help me find what I need.

Sometimes, the shortest path to an answer asking a better question—for example, not “Who can do this for me?” but “How can I learn how to do this for myself?”

###

Prologue

I’ve discovered that in the nitty-gritty of app flipping, you can run into specific and crazy errors. I did end up needing to ask Austin several questions, and if you have purchased a Bright Newt source code, you may have some questions of your own.

As an ambassador for Bright Newt and fledgling app developer, I would ask you to email us as a last resort. Why? Because we only have so many hours in the day and can respond to only so many emails.

Go out there and teach yourself how to fish. Get out there and find your answers. Learning how to push through those frustrating problems—which often have nothing to do with the code but with Xcode or a particular device—will help you with more than just app development. I promise you that.

Good luck!

Tyler

Fishing Tackle

Speaking of teaching yourself how to fish, I’ve listed below some of the resources that I found helpful.

Hint: I found them by googling “how to reskin an app.” Just sayin’.

Comments and Support:

    James Mathew

    nice article I would give this a try

    Harshavardhan

    How should I start?

    J.J.

    Hi there,

    Thank you very much for this post. I’m trying to get into app reskinning myself. I am a 2D game artist with a friend that’s in the process of learning xcode. Is it doable to successfully do it between us two even though my friend is completely new at xcode? Thank you.

      austinlchurch

      @J.J. That’s a tough question to answer. As with any business, your results may vary, and will be based on your individual capacity, business experience, relative expertise, and motivation or drive. If you’re interested in teaching yourself how to reskin apps, then I’d suggest starting with a smaller project while you tackle the learning curve. I’ll send you an email with some resources.

    Nathan

    Good advice Tyler :)

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