I am now about 3 weeks in; I have a relatively well developed idea and an app developer at hand but nothing to physically show for my efforts other than some fag packet sketches. All my efforts now hinged on Austin coming through for me otherwise it was back to the drawing board.
Our conversation began on Whatsapp (its actually where all my conversations happen, basically my meeting room). I Introduced myself, let him know where I got his number and what I was after. Having already experienced a lot of disappointment with developers I had no great expectations. To my surprise this turned out to be a promising first video conference. Austin spoke perfect English which made the experience much easier than the ones I had with the developers on Fiverr (that was just plain hard work). We then started to talk about the finer details of the app, how it needs to work, what the purpose of it was and so on. By this point I had already given substantial thought to the concept and had a lot of great ideas on what it could be. Admittedly, there was still a fair amount that I hadn't fully thought through but that's okay because once you start to walk you quickly learn to run.
Austin quickly proved his worth. He gave constructive feedback about my ideas outlining how better to do somethings or where ideas were not achievable he suggested an alternative solution which would yield a similar result. He was articulate in describing the steps we would need to take as well as directing me on other aspects I would need to consider which up and until now I had not contemplated. There is actually a lot to take in aside from the app itself such as server space to host your app, data allowances for storage, hosting platforms for the apps, the process of listing the app into the App Store and Play Store and terms and conditions. You will also need to prepare all the text and artwork which can be extensive depending on the complexity of your app. This would need to be paired with a user interface so you will need to consider how you want each item to work and their placement as well as how they behave. The magnitude of the task can quickly become daunting so the key is to remember an old Chinese proverb ''the man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones''. With this in mind we agreed to reconvene weekly. Austin would begin setting up a shared work space using google sheets (I hadn't used this before but it's an amazing way of collaborating). The plan was that he would set up an itemised list of what information is required by him and what he needs from me, outline the general logic for each section of the app and set colour schemes etc. The platform would let us both raise queries on any aspect of the app content and keep an ongoing dialogue until the query is resolved much like a Request For Information document (RFI) typically used by contractors but better.
It all then came down to cost. This was a side project for me and as much as I believed in it, I knew I needed to approach with caution financially as it's new territory. Austin was too polite to bring up the fee so it was me who initiated the topic. I knew by this point that he would be a great asset to the project so in my mind I was willing to go slightly above my budget to get him. Fortunately for me, the price Austin requested was only a couple of thousand which is well within my budget and cheaper by a long shot to the quotations. It is worth remembering however there will be a number of other costs associated with the app such as listing and hosting. Depending on your skill set you may also need someone to produce the artwork, create promo videos and other content.
So now with an app developer at hand and a plan of action, I started putting together a library of images that I wanted to base my app around. At this stage, it is important for me to mention that whilst images are publicly on the internet, you should not use them within your app without the explicit permission of the image owner. That being said there's so much great content out there so by all means use it as a base to build from.
Within the next few days I had a much more refined user interface in mind, a colour scheme which suited my concept and an idea of how the user would manoeuvre through the pages. Austin had listed all the main options the user would have and the logic behind each selection which drives the outcomes. In three days I had made more progress than in the last month and for the first time it really felt like everything was coming together.
Opportunity can present itself at any moment but only if you keep looking. An unexpected lesson I learnt along the way is that you should only bring people on board that will complement your energy. Had I settled for the earlier freelancers, I would have slowly lost enthusiasm. I would have settled for a product that wasn't what I envisaged and would have joined all the other useless apps I had researched. The right people will lay the groundwork for you to plow through and the wrong ones will build walls to slow you down so choose wisely.