You may remember back when we featured Diana Luckevich, developer of TextDooDad as one of the few female Android developers at the time. Well, luckily since the Android Market has grown, so have the number of women that develop apps for our devices. We have a special series this week in which we’ll introduce you to several of them.
First up is Dora, a European developer who started CheerApps and just released her first app, “Jelly Planner” to the Android Market in November. Here is our e-interview. Enjoy!
Hi, Dora. What is your app, Jelly Planner, and how did you come up with the idea for it?
Jelly Planner is a task list with a unique relaxing underwater interface. You use it to plan your tasks or long term goals. Each task is displayed inside a colorful jellyfish that smiles at you and moves its legs. You can easily prioritize your tasks by moving them around.
And how did I come up with this idea? Where I live, there exists a custom of making New Year resolutions – some people may laugh at it. Anyway, I find the end of the year a great time for reflection and making plans, choosing vacation destinations, thinking of things to learn and projects to complete. I used to write these goals in a small traditional paper calendar that I got myself every year. But last year I had a thought that it might be more convenient to have these goals in a place that I check more often than some page in my calendar. And then I thought of an application. I’m sure that I would have found an existing one that would do the job, but I wanted something cheerful that would make planning things fun and relaxing. A vacation on some seaside is always in my New Year plan – so this is why I thought of a planner with jellyfish :).
One more reason why creating such an app came to my mind is that I felt it’s fine (at least for me) to relax about some things – to avoid the trap of perfectionism – planning the future should be fun, it’s great if I realize most of my ideas, and it’s ok if others – that are not crucial – will be postponed to the next year.
Once you had the idea, what were your next steps? What was your role in the creation of the app? Did you design and develop the app by yourself, as part of a team, or hire someone to put your idea into action?
I’m a software developer myself, and my boyfriend used to write applications in the past. He is a great fan of iPhone. I didn’t have a smartphone myself at the time when the idea came to my mind, but we both thought it would be a great platform for this project.
So the first thought was to write an app for iPhone. We didn’t have an Apple computer that would have been ideal for the task, so I found a framework that makes writing for iPhone on PC possible in C++ programming language. After a few days of the application development I realized I didn’t like this C++ stuff, it wasn’t very friendly for human beings. And I read a little about Android: the documentation I found looked promising, I’ve been programming in Java for years, and it cost less than programming for iPhone. We decided it was a great choice for us, so I bought an Android phone and the development started.
I was responsible for the graphics, the main underwater screen and its logic, database site, alarms, etc.. And my boyfriend became the master of those Android forms – when there was a line in a form that was a few pixels too short, he was the patient one who always fixed it.
How did you learn how to do these things – did you go to school for software development or teach yourself?
I studied at a technical university, and then have been working as developer (mostly in Java) for more than 7 years. So after I set up a development environment for Android on my netbook, read some documentation, and took a look at a few sample applications, I was ready to write an Android app. We created the same setup for my boyfriend and began the work. Of course it was more like learning stuff at the beginning, we were making a lot of errors – but that’s how you get to know a new technology.
What is your target audience and how have you reached out to them to tell them about it? Have you gotten a good response from women?
The target audience are all those who like planning, but feel overwhelmed by a desire to organize every detail of their life precisely. Those who need to relax.
And anyone who is open to use a colorful, funny app to plan things in :).
Our app is new and we’re still working on reaching out to potential users.
It seems that women are the greatest fans of Jelly Planner — My sister, my women friends, and myself are very happy users of the app.
As a female app creator, what is your overall impression of the app “world” as a whole – do you feel like a minority? Does that impact what & how you design/develop your ideas? How do other people react when they find out you have an app in the Android Market? How does that feel?
During my studies or in any job I’ve had, women have always been a minority, so I’m used to this fact. I’m not aware of how it looks like in the Android app world yet, but I do realize I have a tendency of coming up with cheerful / relaxing / sweet ideas :).
Everybody who hears about a finished Android app that appeared in the Android Market congratulates me and wishes me luck. And ‘finished’ is a very important word here, for it’s really hard for someone with a regular job to complete such a project. It took us almost a year to finish it – with vacation breaks or weeks when we had no time for the app development.
I work in a software company where I could find a lot of people with Android phones who were interested in testing the app. It was great to hear from them that Jelly Planner is a nice application that works well.
Do you have any advice for other women that have Android app ideas and are considering designing and/or developing an app?
It’s hugely satisfying to complete development of an Android app. It’s incredible when you think that something you’ve created is going to be available to millions of people around the world.
A very important thing when creating an app is to have it tested by many people and to listen to their opinions on what’s intuitive, and what they would like to see in the app. When you hear several times that the checkboxes should be bigger since it’s hard to tap them with a large thumb, it’s worth considering :).
And there’s one thing that I’ve just clearly realized after Jelly Planner has been released in Android Market in the middle of November: there are thousands of applications out there. And a new one is well visible on the ‘New’ apps list only for a day or two. When I enter ‘task list’ in search field in Android Market I get over 3000 results. On the top of the list are the apps that were downloaded over 250 000 times, and a new app with a small number of downloads is on the very bottom. Those who might like it have a very little chance to learn that such an app exists at all.
So it’s not enough to write an application these days. If you want to earn some money on it or simply find users for something you’ve worked so hard on, you need to be prepared that there’s a big task ahead of promoting the app that demands creativity and patience.
Where can we find more information about you & your app? Any last “plugs” you want to share?
And a web page:
I will also answer emails sent to cheerapps at gmail dot com.
Thanks so much for the interview, Dora!
To those of you reading this interview, please support Dora and check out Jelly Planner in the Android Market, then come back and tell us and her what you think! If you are interested in becoming a developer and have any other questions for Dora, please comment below!