Reflections on building my first iOS app 📱

Projects/Life Flips# #review #reflections #iOS #programming #startup #blog

I developed an iOS app! 👨🏻‍💻
It’s called Life Flips, and you can find it here on the App Store
Here’s some reflection on my path to developing this app.

Overall

I spent 74 hours building Life Flips. This includes planning, drawing out sketches, developing / programming the app, and everything else.

I use an app called Toggl to help me track my time. Anytime I start working on a project, I turn on Toggl to help me record where I am spending my time.
So this 74 hours is dedicated work time. It doesn’t include bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, etc.

Is that a lot or a little? I’m not sure. Given that this is my first time developing an iOS app and my first app on the App Store, and I also don’t have any formal training in programming, I figure this time spent is OK?

Surely, a professional iOS developer could have done this in a lot less time.

It officially made it onto the App Store on 28 February 2019.
However, only 14 days in, I only have about 15 downloads. (Also, 100% are from friends clicking the link that I forced onto them. None of them are from discovery in the App Store 😂)

That’s not a great return-on-investment for my time building this app.
Of course overtime hopefully I’ll have more downloads that can justify this up front cost.
I suppose I should focus on marketing next.

Ultimately, I learned a lot about building an app in Swift. I also learned a little bit about UI, but I still have a lot more to learn. So this was a great exercise nonetheless.

Here are some thoughts on what I did well, where I didn’t do well, and my next steps.

What I did well

  • I developed and published an iOS app in less than a month!
  • I submitted the app to the Apple App Store and it got approved. They actually do a proper review of the app, so getting it passed should be considered an achievement, albeit a small one for most professional developers.
  • I learned a lot about programming in Swift. My second time around, I should be able to build an app from scratch much quicker. Maybe 50 hours? Maybe get more features in within the same time frame?

What I didn’t do well

Marketing

This effort completely fell flat. Often times, when I was working on building the marketing assets (screenshots, content for the App Store, a landing page, etc.) I would try and get it done as quickly as possible. I would just haphazardly put together whatever I could and just ship it out.
Sure, this might be great for working quickly. But I think the deeper part of it was that perhaps I didn’t enjoy doing this work, or I was scared that I wasn’t good at it?
Regardless, I’ll certainly have to spend a lot more time on this next time around.

For example, I could do a better job demonstrating my apps usage. I could develop videos showing how to use it, explain what I use it for, what pain points it solves for me, etc.

If I take a review of these screenshots, I can immediately see why it gets so little traction:



From these views, even I don’t get much of a sense of what this app is for.
* How do I use it?
* What pain point does it solve?
One friend even said – “Great app Chingy! But I’m not quite sure what to do with it…”

User Interface

My app’s beauty and shine is only OK. There’s certainly room for improvement here. I’m not sure how to improve here. Should I take some classes?

SEO

I did not think about this at all. Not even a Google research. But from hearing other developers and their strategies, I hear that this is quite an effective tool. I’ll be looking into this more in the near future.

Immediate next steps

It’s the middle of March now, so I am already late getting started with my 3rd project.
However, when I get time to schedule in more work for Life Flips, I want to focus on expanding the distribution of this app, just to justify the effort in building this.
There is potential to include premium features in this app and generate some revenue, so it’s not a complete loss. It’s just that this will still require a lot more work.
For now, I’ll start with a soft target of reaching 1,000 downloads. This is a relatively small number, but much larger than I’ve ever experienced.
Also, I don’t have a timeframe for when I want to hit this target yet. I’ll have to schedule in some time in the near future to continue working on this.

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