How are Writing E-Books and Creating Apps Similar?
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know my thoughts about using Bubble and how learning Bubble can open new doors for you. To use an analogy, it seemed one time, not so long ago, writing a book and getting it published was an almost impossible task except for a selected few. But with advances in technology (e-books), distribution (Amazon), how-to guides, online training, etc., the difficulty to create and publish a book has diminished greatly over the past 10-15 years. Now I’m not saying it’s easy to write a book – you still need to put in the time and write. And you still need to have good content if you want to make money at writing a book, ie no value, no customers. But book publishing is now effectively available to the masses.
Creating apps is undergoing a similar trend. With newer technologies, such as Bubble, the barriers to entry for app development are plummeting both technically (codeless development) and financially (free or cheap tools). Technology will continue to get better and so will how-to and training content. Distribution can be done right from the app, ie the URL owned by the developer. No need to use any app stores – or pay those companies a fee for your app. And with Bubble, you can start for FREE with time being your only investment.
While I find this trend fascinating and exciting, I’m also seeing an uptick in frustration with new(er) app developers. I’ve been developing products for a good decade (or two!). I’ve had both the academic training in engineering and gained “hands-on” experience in the product development process; this includes supporting my designs/products that paying customers are using. In the middle of the night. On weekends. Or holidays. It’s par for the course when you enjoy creating new things for people to use. So I “get it” with the frustrations and challenges of new product (or app) development. But it’s a “tax” for unleashing your creative talents and creating something no one else has done before.
I’m finding with these lower barriers for app development, a lot more non-technical people are now becoming technical. This is awesome because now a whole new population of people with their own creative ideas and ambition can develop some pretty impressive apps. These are people who don’t have engineering degrees but are “technical enough” to take the first steps and determined enough to keep going. Their potential is being unlocked and that’s a great thing.
However, because developing apps is a new skill, you’ll struggle a bit with logic design or database design or user experience. You’ll start learning how to think from a user’s perspective (ie user persona’s) and figuring out how your app should work (or behave). You’ll start to see how the data structure and logic and user interface are all tied together. It’ll be new to you. It’s different. It’s frustrating. It’s exciting. It’s the power of “what if” opportunities. It’s part of the process for learning a new skill, arguably a skill with huge upside potential for you. So if you’re new to app development, you’re probably experiencing some or all of this. That’s good – you’re on the path of learning a valuable skill. Don’t stop – keep going!
When you get stuck (and you will get stuck), try different things in your design. Experiment. Ask questions in chat forums or watch videos. Reach out directly to experts for help. You’ll find sometimes the help you’re seeking isn’t necessarily how to make a certain “thing” work; that’s more tactical and forums or videos can help you with that. Instead, you’ll be looking for answers to high-level, architectural type questions, ie using Groups instead of Pages for mobile experience and better performance. This is where reaching out for 1-on-1 help makes a lot of sense. These types of questions can be too complicated or inefficient to put into email or forums because of the technical complexity and design nuances. They require a conversation so the context and the “why” is communicated effectively so you understand the underlying technical reasons. So don’t get too frustrated if you get stuck. Reach out for help through these different resources and keep pushing forward.
What I’ve found interesting (and enjoyable) in my conversations with clients is they also want to hear about the journey ahead of them. They want to know that the peaks and valleys they’re experiencing are “normal”. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. But someone else who’s been thru the process before does know and they can provide advice. Or perhaps even better, they can provide you with context or perspective. The journey to turn your great idea into an app is challenging. You will be frustrated at times. You will hit roadblocks. But having someone to turn to and discuss not only the technical challenges but also the business challenges can make all the difference in the world to you. Finding a technical mentor and/or creating a group of advisors who you can talk to are great ways to create a “support” system for you on your journey. Or bringing this back to the “writing a book” analogy, you’re looking for the equivalent of an Editor and/or a review team.
While writing a book isn’t necessarily easy, the process to create one and get it published for readers has gotten easier. Similarly, the process to develop an app is also getting easier. And in both cases, having someone who can help you thru the process will make your experience to the finish line much more enjoyable.