If you thought I was just an app developer who wrote a bit of code and published it to Google Play, you’d sadly be horribly mistaken. Doing this all on my own, means I have to wear many, many, many different hats. It’s a lot of fun trying my hand at all the different thing, but it also means that I can become spread thin trying to manage everything else together with my day job.
Here are some of the fun things I get to try my hand at while I work on my apps:
- UX researcher and designer: I am a firm believer in good user experience and following good design patterns. When I built version 3 of the app, I spent hours upon hours reading the material design specifications. I had to carefully sit and work out margins and colour schemes and figure out how to get the material design concepts working before all the tools were built.
- Graphic designer: Or something along those lines. I had to draw the icon for London Bus Pal myself – I know, it looks like an amateur made it – that is because an amateur did! I also did the “swoosh” image (the one in the menu bar when you swipe left) myself and as much I would hate to admit it, I also did the splash screen (it needs serious work, but I have to focus on other things for now). All of the artwork in the app stores were also made by myself with free tools I could find.
- Marketeer: I have to find ways to get people to download my apps. I have to create campaigns and I have to, at some point, put that graphic designer hat back on if I want to make them more eye-catching.
- Sales person: When it comes to sales, the main thing I am selling is advertising space to other companies. It almost feels rude to say it, because I don’t necessarily like ads, but it is the most effective way to monetise a free app. I have to keep my eye out to make sure that I sell the space well and for a good price. Much of it is automated and out of my hands, but it is a role I have nonetheless. (Don’t worry, my UX designer would never allow me to just litter my entire app with ads, it has to remain functional!).
- PR management: I feel like some times when doing development, I cannot just do things right the first time. I always make a mistake and have to go back and fix it. With my PR hat on, I have to make sure that I keep my users in my good books and that they stick around.
- Support: I always have to be on top of the latest issues. Especially around big releases, this takes up a large chunk of my time – I have to constantly monitor logs and check user behaviour to see if things run as I expect them to. When they don’t, I have to figure out why – with GDPR combined with some limiting tools I use, this can be a massive challenge at times (https://www.londonbuspal.co.uk/blog/the-helpfulness-of-reviews-even-bad-ones/).
- Product manager: I have to always be on the lookout for the next big things or how I can improve my app to the benefit of my users. This is mostly what my day job is, so doing it for my app can become tedious or feel a bit fake, but it is really useful to make sure I build the right thing and not just what I feel like building today.
- Accountant: Even though I just make a bit of pocket money from the app, I still have to count all those beans – one benefit of it being a simple setup is that things are pretty easy to count!
- Developer: This is my favourite part of it all – I get to sit down, be a bit creative, solve some problems and see what I built once I am done. I also get to experience a little bit of what the developers I work with every day experience, so it even helps me in my “real” job. I also use this as an opportunity to learn about things where I might want to see for myself how it works (automated testing and repository management being some of my interests).
- Tester: You would not always say so, but I try and do this as thoroughly as I can. But when you develop something yourself and you look at the same things all the time, it can become quite challenging to do this thoroughly. I am always hopeful that this is where my test automation helps me out, but for that I need to invest more time in it.
- User: I love using my own app. It does what I want it to do and that makes me happy. I know what I want it to do next and that frustrates me – because in order to do all that, I need to do all those others things!
I love doing this and being able to experiment with all these different things. I would love to have more time to devote to this, but at the moment it is just my spare time I get to use for it. When things start picking up, I will have to look at how I make more time, but it’s always a question of economics!