Designing my first app – what have I learned?

It’s finished! Well, I should say published, because an app is never *really* finished, it just reaches a point where you have to ship it and continue to iterate it with the feedback you (hopefully) get from the users.

My partner and I created an app called Dream Catcher. It’s a dream journalling app that helps you log your dreams. You can write as much information you want and mark your dreams with tags and emotion you felt. The more dream logs you create, the more detailed your dream patterns will become, where you can track what you dream about and how you felt in most of the dreams.

This app was my first project that would go out into the real world and not just sit on my blog and show my beginner’s shenanigans. I had to step it up and really start to observe how other things are created, what are the guidelines for Android app design, what are good or bad practices and many more details I had to find out and be aware of.

My first steps were quite messy and 99% not even in the right order. As soon as we decided to do this app I jumped on creating the app’s icon. Maybe not the biggest of mistakes because it doesn’t influence the actual app designing process. At least it didn’t in my case.

I was very unaware how things usually follow because the steps I was unaware I should do at the start, I paid for it later. Not spending enough time wireframing and color-free mockups, resulted in fixing, moving, repositioning, removing and barely moving forward for some time, purely because I didn’t dedicate enough attention to it at the beginning. But let me tell you – big lesson learned. There might be a long and detailed process in creating a proper base, the bones for a product, but once you got that covered, everything else is so much easier and smoother. Funnily enough, I now find it’s something I enjoy doing. Similarly why I like lettering so much – I put on my headphones and dive into concentrated state of iterating until it’s just right.

The learning curve with this app was steep, as there were plenty of things I had to do alone (with the mentorship of my partner) and each new thing was accompanied with research on how it’s even done. Most of the time I did the task and then my partner gave me feedback if I’m in the right direction, should something be fixed, considered, added and so on. Having someone like that who is already in the industry and knows how things are done is priceless.

But something I noticed I missed very much was working in a team (partner having a full time job means not as much time to respond and help asap). I imagine it being considerably easier to be surrounded with people with whom you work on the same project and ideas can be thrown around, discussed, developed, everyone is there to help and explain if something is unclear.

As soon as we were done with Dream Catcher, I was already on the next project, which was redesigning an app that was already published.

Jotr is a simple app that allows you to quickly draw, write, doodle, sketch as soon as you open it. No hassle with choosing background, brush, color or anything else before you get to actually using it. Not to mention the ease of deleting and starting from scratch.

Everything that I learned designing an app for the first time, I was very careful to include this time. But despite the experience from the previous project, there were still things I didn’t know and had to consider. Which proves the point that there’s always something new to be learned, even though it might be one of the simplest apps out there.

All in all, I have to say I’m very lucky that one of the first serious projects was something that turned out to be very enjoyable for me. Can’t wait for the next one!

Take a look at Portfolio  for a quick overview of the apps.