Back in 2013, I was a regular bus user in London and I remember having to use two different apps to get the information I wanted. The exact details have faded, but I remember that I liked the one app, because it was simple to use – you just open the app and it shows you the buses you want to see. The other app I used was to track progress once I actually got on the bus. Finding the right bus wasn’t always the easiest thing to do and having to use two apps was a bit frustrating.
By the end of July, I had put together an app using the technology I was familiar with (Google Web Toolkit) and I was delighted with the results. I remember feeling surprised that I made something which was better than anything I could find on the app store and my app did exactly what I wanted it to do. As I built the first version only for my own personal use, it meant that I could focus only on what was absolutely useful. All of the core functionality remains to this day (except for one unimplemented minor feature in the latest version which will be reinstated shortly):
- Quickly see all the bus stop nearby and arrival information for each
- Ability to select a specific bus and track progress
- See the details of an entire route and where that bus would stop
I had been using the app on my own for about a month and I was happy with what I had built. I showed my partner who game me some great feedback about the app. Towards the end of September, I decided that I should share what I had built with the world! Of course I was going to use this as another opportunity to learn something new – so I threw myself into the world of app monetisation and I decided I was going to put a simple ad at the bottom of my app. Even though my original app obviously didn’t have ads in it, it was a good compromise to make to see if I could make a little bit of money with my creation. The rules were clear for me from the start – do not annoy users with ads.
By the end of 2013, I had accumulated less than £10 in total advertising revenue. But this wasn’t the point – it was a hobby and I was super happy with my app, because best of all, it was useful for me.