Developing the Black Enterprise iPad App

Developer Ali Sharif discusses how the app came together, and what it took to produce it

Sharif and partner Ed Young formed F2F660 Digital shortly after the iPad's debut.

Ali Sharif is an industry veteran with more than 20 years experience as a communications/interactive professional. He has made vital contributions to everyone from AT&T and Mos Def to The New York Times. He has also racked up his fair share of awards throughout these years, including a few from The Society of Newspaper Design.

Soon after the iPad debuted, Sharif and longtime friend Ed Young formed F2F 6Sixty Digital, a joint venture that combined the resources of both their companies.  The new entity would give them the resources and connections they needed to bring a quality app to market.

On the eve of the BE app’s launch on Thursday, August 19, Sharif took the time to explain how everything came together, and what he and the F2F 6Sixty team set out to accomplish with this app.

How did the F2F660 relationship with BE begin?
F2F was already doing a circulation piece for Black Enterprise–a subscription module that allows magazine publishers to offer the lowest price to their subscribers when it’s time for them to re-up. And it allows them to pass on savings to their friends once they’ve bought the magazine. So they were already dealing with Black Enterprise on that.

Ed and I had been friends for a bit and were trying to figure out what to do in the iPad realm. So it seemed like the perfect opportunity to approach BE about the iPad since we were already talking to them about the F2F stuff.

What were you looking to accomplish with this app? What was your goal?
As I started downloading magazine apps, one of the things that frustrated me was trying to read the magazine. I was inundated by all this animation and I was like ‘I just want to read the damn magazine!’ I’m not so interested in the title sliding in or funky ways to separate the text from the graphics–I want to read the magazine.  So for us, it was about finding a publisher or title that had content that was worth reading, and that was really how we decided to go to Black Enterprise, because they had good content.

If you have good content, and if it’s a business magazine like Black Enterprise is, then their demographic isn’t the demo for all the fancy graphic animation. You can do some of them, but they want to read the content. It’s vital, important, valuable content. So how do we create an app that really facilitates reading the content?

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  • http://www.suiteminute.com Peggy Duncan

    Outstanding! I appreciate so much what it took to make this app happen. I especially like the well thought-out logic and how you applied it to the real world. Congratulations Ali! Now how long before we’ll have something for the iPhone?