Introducing Lestr

Social, shareable lists

Now the fun begins. I have made my decision — I’m going to build an application that is all about lists.

One week ago I announced that I’m going to level up my development skills and take a project of building an application from start to finish.

I have now decided what I’m going to build — Lestr.

What is Lestr?

Lestr is all about lists. But I’m not talking about the todo lists (those are scattered all over the web) and I’m not talking about the grocery lists either (they’re also already out there). I’m talking about simple shareble lists about things you love — or hate for that matter.

We all enjoy listing things. In our heads we always keep a list of top ten movies of all time, five memorable places in Poland or the 20 restaurants to skip in Singapore (in no particular order).

And of course those lists are easily created with a few characters on most blogging or social platforms out there. But none of them are devoted solely to lists — lists that you can share with your friends, colleagues or audience.

  • If you’re a nurse you can create an ordered list of three things to do when someone suffers from a heart attack which you can share with the world to make people more aware.
  • If you’re a web developer you can make an unordered list of the best tools for developers right now and share with your followers.
  • Or if you’re bad at remembering stuff you can create a list of tv series that you like, a list that you can take a look at when somebody asks you if you’ve seen anything good on tv lately.

When I’m done developing the application my goal is that Lestr will become a platform where people can gather and create lists of all imaginable things.

What will happen during the project?

As I mentioned in my post last week I’m now on parental leave for quite some time. And my goal is to present Lestr to the world sometime before next summer — it all depends on how my son behaves. But I believe that it’s manageable.

The project can be separated into three different stages that I’ll have to go thru.

  1. Design
  2. Development
  3. Maintenance and further development

These three stages all contain subtasks within them. And all of them will present challenges that I’ll have to overcome.

Design

This is the first stage where I’ll try to carve out not only the looks of the application but also how it will work and what features that should be included.

I’m not a designer and have never done any serious UI/UX-designs before. But I believe that I can see the difference between good and bad design. Hopefully I will be able to translate my thoughts into Lestr.

I’ve already started on some sketches of what the app might do:

Left: Discover section with lists by everybody. Right: How a list might be presented.
Left: A list of your lists. Right: List editor.

These pictures are all early sketches and work mostly as wireframes. You don’t have to worry, the app won’t look like that in the end.

The biggest hurdle I think that I’ll encounter during the design phase is probably how to make it user friendly. And that is not a small hurdle. I’ll have to do quite extensive research on other applications user interfaces and find inspiration from around the web, and as someone once said:

Good artists copy. Great artists steal.

Or something like that.

Development

This part is all about coding. This is where I’ll make the application work and actually be useful. I’ve never shipped anything big into production (the stage where the app goes public) earlier. But I want this app to really work seamlessly for the users.

My focus today lies heavily on JavaScript. This might be very vulnerable in the long run, but I believe that I’ll have to get a real grip of this language before I can move on to other ones. Thankfully JavaScript works not only as a front end language in the browser but also as a back end language on the server via Node.js. This means that I’ve decided to go full stack JavaScript for this project.

But that is the only decision I’ve made so far. Later I must decide how to build the app and which frameworks, if any, to use. As of today React is very attractive for me compared to e.g. Angular. But I won’t make that decision right now.

The greatest challenge of this part is to write modular and reusable code. Code that I can later improve upon and easily add features to later on as I step into the final phase.

Maintenance and further development

This is almost the most exciting part of the project. Actually it won’t kick in until after the application is shipped. This is the part where actual people hopefully will use my product.

Most obviously this phase includes keeping the application running. I’ll have to make sure that the servers can handle all the visitors on the site without crashing. And I must make sure that bugs, that most certainly will occur, gets fixed as soon as possible.

But this part of the project also includes keeping users happy and reaching out to potential users through marketing — something I have absolutely never done before.


All of this actually excite me. I’ll have to stretch my limits to make it work and will probably curse myself for getting into it from time to time.

Hopefully these weekly updates will get some traction and someone will read these lines and click on that small heart. If one does that I can assure you that it will make me happy and it will keep me going.

Next week my goal is to present more about the looks and feels of the application as I proceed with the design phase.

Until then, have a nice day!


If you’re also an aspiring developer I think you might be interested in following my journey here on Medium, so click that follow button! I will post an update on my progress every Monday here at Medium.