Building a app part-time needs planning

Recently I’ve tried several times to start working on a side project, building an app. I’ve had several ideas, an app for tracking your Warfarin intake (after getting blood clots I found out how important regular Warfarin is), an app for managing you post (letters not email) and an app for tracking visits to the gym and what you do while there.

All ok ideas, I won’t know until I have a early version out whether other people like them, but I think they are ok and I’d use them.

So far I’ve got no where with them. Yes I’ve started them several times, I’ve create many Ionic template apps ready to start building the app, but this is as far as they get.

I’ve also been working with another developer on a app they want to build. It’s a great idea and will be a fantastic app once built, but what I’ve found is as I can only spend a few hours a day on the app. If the planning of how the app will work is not in place then development will slow to a virtual standstill. I’ve found this with both my apps and this other third party app.

If before development starts things like data structure, screen flows, how the app will handle offline support, how the app will inform the user what’s happening as they use the app. If these things are not planned or at least considered. Then during development the developer is building an app partially blind. Decisions that the need to be made will be decided by the developer as they go. For a side project this maybe ok, but it will slow down progress on the app. You’ll find that you will be rewriting functionality in the app over and over as you change your mind. This will slow progress.

Though you think as you are coding you are making progress, if you are rewriting the same part over and over the app is not progressing. When you see the apps isn’t getting any closer to being ready to launch, your initial enthusiasm for building the app will disappear.

So for my personal side project apps I need to go back to the drawing board (well notepad really) and plan these following aspects of the app:

  • Screen flow
  • Data structure
  • Offline support
  • User messages
  • Features for first version – in order to get the app out there to see if people will use it
  • How the app will be promoted
  • Who’s the target audience
  • Pricing structure – will I charge for it? If so how will that effect the structure of the app

A lot to think about. Some of these can be fleshed out as the app is being built, but having a good idea/plan before starting development will help.