Itchin’ for the Kitchen

Hello internet friends!

I’m Alec, the design guy behind The App Cookbook. I’m writing from my good friend Patrick’s couch in Berkeley, where we’re teetering on the edge of a crazy two week challenge, which I’ll spend furiously moving shapes around as we attempt to stir up 10 meaningful & functional apps in 10 days.

How did I get here?

I finally made it to the bay area on Wednesday after a two month road trip from my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. I took to the road in late-May after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, on a mission to discover what the middle and left-ish parts of this country have to offer. While traveling, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to continue working remotely for Promantus, where I’ve been a UX/UI designer for just over a year now.

Why The App Cookbook?

In my ~2 years in design, I’ve invested most of my time & effort in two long-term projects — first Flippo, a student-to-student delivery startup I founded in college, and now as a consultant working on various parts of the web and mobile experience for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification system. Deep-dives into the design of both of these platforms have allowed me to work on both building new brands and augmenting existing ones; But this process is gradual, and while goals and needs evolve, I usually find myself working with the same ‘palette’ of elements, colors and challenges on a daily basis for months on end.

When Patrick proposed his idea for The App Cookbook, I immediately saw it as a great opportunity to shake things up, and wrestle with a bunch of different design challenges and paradigms in a short period of time.

Our emphasis on documentation in the creation of our “recipes” will also challenge me to distill my own design process. Being self-taught, my techniques have evolved almost entirely organically, and I know for sure that I have some bad habits to squeeze out — failing to flesh out a global vision before getting caught up in the minutia (too much detail too early), a constant fear of committing to a paradigm (and screwing-over future Alec), and so on.

I’ve collaborated with Patrick before on some side-projects, but this will also provide me with new insights on how to undertake the transition from design to development. Each app we create is another iteration toward a smoother handoff.

The App Cookbook has one golden rule — we must deliver a COMPLETE app at the end of each day. Since our time limit is held constant, we’ll be forced to adjust our scope to accomplish the end goal. It’s easy to get caught fantasizing about the potential of a project, and end up delivering a half-baked dream rather than a functional product. This exercise will force us to break down our work flow into smaller, accomplishable tasks — a skill I hope to extend to my other work.

As we build furiously over the coming weeks, we expect to deal with all kinds of common and unique challenges that tend to pop up during the app development process. By publishing our experiences, we hope that you can learn from our successes and failures as you cook up your own goodies.

We can’t wait to get cookin’, and hope you’ll follow along :)


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