Stupid ideas

Sometimes good ideas come out of what we think are stupid ideas. Sometimes a new venture starts with a push of imagination, and history teaches us that many companies were born out of nowhere, just because one, two or more folks started doing something that may have appeared stupid to all the other people.

When developing software for the customers, it’s not easy to get in the mind of the user. As developers, we tend to build software for ourselves, and while something might sound to us like a stupid idea, maybe it’s not.

So, sometimes maybe it’s worth exploring things even if we think it’s not worth it, and see what comes out of our ideas and imagination.

One week to build an app

You’re joking, right? One week? It will take months!

Well.

I’m not talking about a super-duper vector editing app, obviously, or a GarageBand clone. I’m talking about a small, useful utility application.

I think one week is a great timing: you don’t lose much time, you build on momentum, you are full of energy on your great idea.

One week from start to finish is possible if you already know the tools of the trade, you have a solid base of technology you can build upon, and you have a clear idea in mind.

Let’s write my process for doing things.

Day one? Prototype. Open Balsamiq Mockups and start drawing the user interface of what you’re thinking about. Don’t end until you are 100% satisfied with the design.

If the thing does not convince you, jump ship and try doing some other app idea you have written somewhere in Evernote.

Let’s just not waste weeks for the design. If the app will never see the light of the day, or is not successful as you think, you’re just wasting time.

Once the idea is there, start working on the code. Maxiumum 3-4 days of coding and the app should be 80% there.

Allow for time to think and improve the details, and get ready for shipment.

 

..Shipment??

 

Yes, the sooner your app sees real users, real customers and real world usage, the sooner you’ll have honest feedback. Forget beta testers and friends, you’ll never know the harsh reality about your apps from them, because they’re afraid to hurt you. Some good one-star review will let you know if your idea works or not.

Then the real work starts.

What happens after the App Launch

Once your MVP is shipped, published and people start downloading it, it’s really curious to see what people think about it.

After all it’s the reason we made it: to be used.

If no one buys the app, it’s like a song that no one will listen: a piece of art, but not really useful. Another idea that sounded great on paper but in practice it’s not much appreciated.

If instead the song gets popular, the app gets downloaded, it’s then that the project takes life on its own.

In your hands you now have a real thing that real people use. It’s time to dedicate more time to is, as bug reports come in, little things needs to be fixed, users demand features. You now have the power to decide its destiny.

Your App launch is the MVP

The best ideas are those that happen in the shower. Why is that? There’s serious science that explains it.

What’s important to note is that those ideas sometimes are just crazy and so brilliant that we must note them somewhere right away, or they’re lost.

The real work is getting those ideas down on paper once you get back to the drawing room, and try to imagine all the details that matter. Got an idea for a great App? Draw all the screens!

Many times those ideas are way better than the ones resulting from months of planning, meetings, feature documents etc etc etc. Let the gut work, and follow it.

Inspiration is the magic that must happen all across the process: idea, mockup, actual development and detail fine tuning.

Once the app takes a presentable form, ship it!

That’s the MVP, your original idea that took form and is ready to be used by people across the globe.

Less. Drop everything that’s not essential

Less is the key to most successful software projects (and not just those).

Less screens. Less things the user has to do to get the job done.

Less features. Drop anything that’s not fundamental to the app functionality. Than take away something more, until the app is so slim that anyone can use it without a user manual (do they still build those?)

Less starts at the front, the interface, and continues behind the scenes. Less code, less libraries, less dependencies, less complicated things to understand and document.

Less time to build it and get it to market, less time to work on it again and make it better in an update.

Drop anything that’s not essential.

Not enough quality products

We’re at the end of 2014, yet the world is full of low quality products. Specifically thinking about the Mac market, there are a lot of high quality apps, but also a lot of awful things. It’s clear if you take a look at the Mac App Store.

Someone needs to fix that.

I’m going to start small, and every day improve this very small portion of the world a little bit.

How?

By building quality products.

Create a serie of little, useful Mac Applications, and sell them for a sum that allows me to continue working on little, useful Mac Applications.

If the Apps I build will be quality products, surely someone, somewhere, will find it useful, and will use it.

My goal will take years to build upon, but one needs to start somewhere, right?