So, on most weeks I usually send out tips on app development

Well . . . today is going to be a bit different

I want to open up a little bit and share something more personal.

Did you know I quit my job to start App Design Vault.?

I used to be a C# .NET programmer before this starting App Design Vault. I have worked in large companies like Philips and small companies as well. But somehow, I knew I did not fit in.

My bosses always loved me and the job I did but I knew there was something better out there. Something better than spending 8 hours of my day generating revenue for someone else.

Anyway, I quit in November 2011 and started App Design Vault. That is basically the best thing that has happened to me since then.

  • Getting comments about the themes on the Vault
  • Talking with lots of you via email
  • Seeing Apps live in the App store using Vault themes.

I never thought in a million years thought that it was going to have such an impact so soon.

Every time one of you send me an email with your app using one of my themes in the App store, I puts a massive smile on my face.

And not just iOS apps, Android apps as well!. You rock!.

It hasn’t been the smoothest road though…

I have a 1-year old son that loves jumping on me and pressing the sleep button on my laptop while I am using it 🙂

Anyway, enough of my life already. Let’s talk about you

This year is all about you and what you want

Since I have made the Vault my life’s mission, I have to make sure you are happy with what it offers.

Anything I do in the business should be about you and how to get you the results you want.

Here is one request a lot of you have made that I have been holding back on

I get an email every other day about this specific request, but I have been holding back because it is going to mean sharing more of me and my business than I have done.

For some months now, I’ve been asked by lots of people to implement custom features for your apps.

Themes like…

  • Wedding Invitation themes
  • Blog App themes
  • Movie Trailer themes

and Custom features like…

  • Hidden view in the Path and Facebook app
  • Sliding carousel

UPDATE: From the comments below, it seems a there is less demand for custom controls but more demand for choosing what kind of templates are launched on the Vault.

I can see you want me to help you take your apps and transform it into a stunning looking app that you will be proud of.

I am looking for a group of people that are ready to shape the future of the Vault. To give feedback on what kind of themes will be released next on the Vault.

It’s about time I start listening to you

The most popular theme from the Vault is the Foody theme, and this is one of the first themes that was released.

It came from a request I had about making an app that looked like the Apple “Find My Friends” app.

If I hadn’t listened, the Vault may not be where it is today.

So I have to get off my stubborn butt and start listening 🙂

It would give me an insight into what you want to see in your app. Instead of guessing what kind of features you want to see in future themes, I will be able to find out from you exactly what should be included.

So I’m Seriously Considering Doing This

I am seriously considering taking some of your feedback and making specific themes out of what I can glean from them.

I’m excited about sitting down with you to make your app look stunning, but I’ve been around long enough to know that my small projects quickly get out of hand and turn into big ones.

If I Do This, It Will Be A LOT Of Work, so…

Please let me know if you are interested

So I only want to do this if there’s enough interest.

I want to know . . .

  • What do you think?
  • Should I do this?
  • Would you be interested?

Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Your feedback and thoughts are absolutely the fuel that keeps me going
And I don’t want to even think about doing this unless there’s enough potential interest.

It would mean a lot to me, and I’ll do my best to respond to each and every comment.


  1. clive bearman


    I wish you continued success with App Design Vault. The themes are great and really help those of us who don’t have graphics skills to polish our apps. As for suggestions….

    – I’d love to see some more female oriented designs, suitable for retail boutiques, wedding invitations and other bridal type apps. So lace, ivory, and paper textures – pink, pastels and cream colors.

    – Also there’s “kid type themes too for educational apps.

    – Perhaps a library of “widgets, sliders and buttons” might be useful.

    – Finally … icons, icons, icons. Both toolbar and great artwork for app icons. Maybe a library of components that can be pieced together to make unique app icons?

    Anyhow keep up the great work!

    • Tope

      Good to heat the, Clive. Female oriented themes sound like a good idea. The Vault is packed full of testosterone. Let’s fix that, shall we?

  2. David Slone

    Tope, I love the App Design Vault, seeing your themes has been a huge help with some smaller projects I have that I don’t have the budget to hire a designer and your excellence is constantly pushing me to do better work. Thanks for your hard work and dedication.

    • Tope

      Thanks David, It is always good to know someone gets some value from what you do. That’s what pushes me to be better. My mission is “death to ugly apps” 🙂 and not have to spend all your budget on design while you are at it…

  3. Cory Hughes

    Q: What do you think?
    A: I think its a great idea!

    Q: Should I do this?
    A: Heck Yes!

    Q: Would you be interested?
    A: Just take my money already! 😀

    I think that you could only increase revenue this way and we would definitely be able to use what you make.

    I am a designer and only have a limited amount of knowledge about programming but after seeing a working app and playing around with it i am understanding it a LOT more. However, what I don’t fully understand is how to get there in xCode, but I’m getting there! (right now I always have this link open and bookmarked so I can somewhat see and understand the steps)

    Also, do you have a twitter account?

    Thanks for all your work! 😀

    • Tope

      Cory… You are a special breed, man. We developers stand in awe of designers. Most times, we wish we could kill you and take your powers:-)….

      By the way, there is nothing for sale … Not yet at least.
      I am looking for a group of people that will shape the future of the Vault with their suggestions, etc..

      Thanks for your comment!

  4. Mustapha

    Hello Tope,

    On the specific question about the custom features, here is my advice.

    First of all, I think you are really doing a great job and the Vault is a premium resource for us developers who don’t have great designer skills, and can’t afford to hire one. So please trust me if I tell you that my intention is to help you being fine, or more awesome.

    Clearly, I don’t think custom features are good for your business. The example you provided is excellent. We have many, many open source implementations of those custom controls, and countless tutorials on how to do it. I don’t know what are the skills of the developers asking this, but if one know the basics of iOS programming, he will eventually manage to integrate some open source controls. (iPad twitter like stack view, sliding views, carousel, pull to refresh etc.).

    I, for one, am not an expert in programming, but I don’t think I would buy something like this. Those features are part of the programming scope.

    The programming teaching you provide us, via videos and sample projects with themes, are “bonus” I consider, and are only here to understand how to integrate efficiently themes to our apps.

    If this is a lot of work for you, I’m afraid the return on investment would be hard to reach.

    Considering custom themes (on user request), it can be a good idea. For example you can have a section on the website with validated submissions by users, describing a theme. And customers would help you choose one theme to make every “X” time. For example, every 2 weeks, you will implement the top custom theme etc.

    I hope my answer will help you thinking about this.

    Kind regards !

    • Tope

      Hi Mustapha, wow, I love your comment. Very insightful. I see where you are coming from… You mean the Vault should be about design and not programming related features?
      I am curious to see what others have to say about this. ….

      I agree with the fact that you all should be involved in choosing the topic for the next theme…

      • Anonymous

        Absolutely, I see the Vault as design resources for developers. Programming features are cool too, a developer always love to see code, but it’s hard to charge for a tutorial when hundreds are available for free, and harder to charge for a component if the same one is live on GitHub.

      • Arda

        I agree with techilm. We come to your site for cool designs, not for code. Some minor code examples are good as long as they are only there to showcase the design; anything beyond that is unnecessary clutter that we will remove anyway.

        As for custom design, I think that’s a great idea as long as you keep it to design elements and not code. Without custom requests, you may run out of ideas after awhile.

        • Tope

          I think what I am going to do is get a group of people together and we shall determine the next 3 months worth of themes… The topics, what they will be about…

          This way I am developing themes with your feedback and not pulling ideas from thin air

  5. Mike P

    Hi Tope,

    Just thought I’d throw my 2 cents in, but I think you should continue to serve the market that you’ve started to cater to – developers needing good design resources. As another poster mentioned, there are plenty of open-source coding sites that cater to those less experienced developers, looking for pre-built solutions.

    I think you are doing a great job with the UI/UX design stuff, and that is specifically what I come here for, and the more variety the better…

    Keep rocking 🙂

    • Tope

      So you mean more App designs, less custom controls. Hmmmm, as I said, I am interested in seeing what you think. My ears are all open.

      What about custom designs for the open source component… e.g taking ShareKit and making five designs around it. So your ShareKit doesn’t look like other apps ShareKit… What do you think?

  6. Konstantinos

    Thanks for your excellent work.
    I think you should stay away from custom programming and keep
    doing your magic on the UI like you do now.

    There are far too many tutorials for inexperienced developers to watch and learn.
    I say that and i am one of them. Your work though is very inspiring and very helpful.

    It makes our work look good 🙂

    Keep it up.

    • Tope

      Thanks Konstantinos…. What about making you decide what kind of template will be launched next? There have been a lot of requests for Blog themes for example…

      • Konstantinos

        Choose between your favorite 5 and then make a poll so the users can make their own choice. The top result will be your masterpiece to work on 🙂

  7. Joey

    More themes are always a welcomed sight. I see no problem with taking requests, but I would suggest that if a request comes in that is very specialized (i.e. not generally useful) that you might consider charging the requestor something extra for the privilege of being the first on their block to have access to it.

      • Joey

        Sure. Just make sure that all parties involve agree to the terms upfront. If they want to keep it to themselves, then you charge a lot more since you lose out on potential sales at that point. Anything goes – as long as you get it in writing up front.

  8. brettburky

    Being that we have a coder and not knowing how to cater to that as well, I opt for more designs. I actually took one of the designs and added that hidden feature like facebook on the app we are getting completed.

    I would more designs is where its at for us.

  9. Kano809

    Hello Tope,

    I think that the Vault is at the very start of what will become a huge market (designing mobile Apps). Your work is very inspiring and a great help to those developer that lack designing skills. If you can provide Pre-made themes and do custom work as well is a plus. If you can’t handle both then that means that you have to expand.


    • Tope

      Yes, as you know Kenny, custom work is something I undertake privately… but only for interesting apps. I don’t accept when I get pitched custom work for boring, no functionality apps…

  10. Gazolla Junior

    Hello Tope,

    IMHO, you should focus your energy in themes development. You are doing a really great job in this field.

    Soon I will buy some themes.

    Keep up the great work!


    • Tope

      Thanks, Sebastian… I definitely will focus on theme development. It’s obvious this is what almost everyone gets value from.

  11. Chik

    Hi, Tope.
    My apps for enterprises looks more polished using the themes. Its a great help to coders like me with limited design skills and building up templates libraries. Looking forward to see more styling of controls such as search bar etc. Keep up the good work!

  12. Matt

    Wow – what a great article!

    Very candid, love it. Coming from an ad agency, this is REAL communication.

    From my perspectie – the more themes the better 🙂

    • Tope

      Hey Matt! … I am happy you appreciate the honesty. It took a while before I could hit publish on this post…. But it had to be done, I wanted you to know where I am coming from and that I am here to help…

  13. Jvanlint

    I second the vote for component designs. Your designs are great Tope but let’s face it, few of us actually use the theme in its entirety. I mean, is there really a need for another movie trailer, music player, food app. Not really. But the individual elements of these themes inspire and with a little modification these themes provide great elements to incorporate in our apps.

    Themes are great but ultimately they serve to inspire more than to use straight out of the box. Or am I wrong here?

    The generic nature of the themes mean that they serve as great inspiration and for that I thank you. Perhaps a few videos on how to manipulate these elements in photoshop would be welcome. For example, how do you change the color of the leather elements in foody? How do you manipulate the button images in social boo. Stuff like that.

    I also second the call for different types of schemes. Elegant wedding like themes and perhaps 1 or 2 corporate style apps (conservative) might be an idea.

    • Tope

      True that the themes are for inspiration more than anything else… All the apps live on the App store that use the themes never use all the designs “as is”… It just shows the themes ae versatile….

      The component design would have been fun and believe me, I was excited to do it.. But it seems no one is interested. I have to listen and do stuff that people will actually use….

  14. Iain

    Hi Tope

    Thanks for giving us the opportunity to have a somewhat of a say in the direction of your future – not that you need to listen to everything we say.

    I think that what you have been generating so far hits the spot – I don’t think that only producing the graphics is what you should go for. Personally I like the mixture of the two as the App also generates other ideas that the user can persue – sometimes all it takes is a great idea to stimulate one’s thoughts.

    I like the idea of also just selling or producing just graphics that we can use / build into existing Apps that we have purchased.

    Having got to know you over the last few weeks, I have found you to be an extremely talented guy from the programming side, so I would like to continue to see you share your skills with us.

    I guess some of the requests that I see above look more like getting an App to help someone with a project as opposed to what you started off doing which was selling aesthetically pleasing Apps that would help sell the product, but I guess at the end of the day, you have to decide what market you are in and then serve it – hey, what else do you have to do all day ?

    I am good with what ever you decide as I know that it will be good either way.

    I just need to see more.

    Speak to you soon and keep up the good work.


  15. Jean Fabre

    Hi tope,

    Great move again! all of this is only positive and can only give positive outcomes.

    One of my great and total disappointment with xCode and i0s development in general is the total lack of proper themes management. this is such a miss! Flex has a skin system, Java has a skin system. They are not perfect, but really handy and essential, Xcode…. nothing remotly close to that!!!

    So really. I would put a great emphasis into actually trying to build a framework that within xCode allow you to design and code an app ( easy to medium complexity, above it will become impossible almost). And this frameWork would allow you to switch themes without any code modification!

    that is a far reayh, and I have yet to see such framework. I think this is where it hurts the most currently.

    then, If you themes are simply drag and drop, AWESOME!

    This would be a huge task, well above designing themes and providing psds… So this might be out of reach for now, but this is what I would pay ( read my clients) a lot of money for.

    Also, I think you should start considering shipping Psd that are sliced and ready to export. Currently, there is still a fair amount of work to do to export a modified theme ( say I changed the colors or the font). Of course this doesn’t apply if we use the theme as is. but this is unlickely in many medium to larget size projects where branding needs to be adjusted.



    • James

      Hi Jean

      I’ve built a number of white-label apps for clients who want to sell versions of the same app to their clients. and the way i do this is through multiple build targets, where each target contains a different info.plist and a different set of assets. Simply changing target then produces a different app.

      Obviously, if you want to completely change the layout of an app as well as the skin, then that is a different story altogether, which is a big ask of Tope IMO. But for re-skinning, thats the easiest way.


      Hi Tope.

      Great Site.

      Thanks for the chance to help shape the site.

      • Tope

        Thanks James… All the themes are different in structure as you say… So it may not be possible to have a re-skin able app.

    • Tope

      Insightful comments as always, Jean… I fear some of your requirements, though they are cool to have, may not exactly be something everyone needs to have right now.

      I need to take a look at the Android framework you talk about though … To understand how it is done…

  16. Lori


    I just discovered the App Design Vault last week and bought my first template. It is exactly what I needed for my app as it was functional but really ugly. I agree with those who are saying give us design themes, we can code. I also 2nd the motion for more artsy (feminine) designs (for apps that are more “personal” than “business”). I want my apps to look professional but not so “techy”. The “foody” theme leans that way, but I would be interested in themes that are even more artsy and less techy.


  17. Rahul Rawla

    I think you’re doing a great Job, I’m myself is a C# Programmer and believe you me Microsoft has spoiled us with VS2010 and .Net Framework,I at times relate to C# with Objective-C and to be honest sometimes felt like using Monotouch etc. , but native is native I guess, Keep up the good work I’m looking forward to more app design templates and tutorials, but sometimes they are too fast to follow, I like all your ideas and I’m with you , I think with UI you can also spice it up a little where you need to tap into some cool features like Camera, Gyroscope,Maps etc.