Learning on the job: Booshparrot

First published on square.devcenter.co

I’m writing this listening to Love Again — Slander, Wavz on repeat. One of the biggest misconceptions about people that are (or seem to be) on top is that they had it figured it out all the way. Contrary to this, most people are just like you — frequently winging through life with the occasional burst of clarity.

My favorite technical writer is Ire Aderinokun. I wish I can one day articulate my process like that. I want to demystify my creative process and lay it out, so people can learn from it, as I’ve learned from many other people. Unfortunately, because I don’t like technical writing, hate watching videos, and I can’t finish a design book for the life of me, I don’t know how to be technical about what I know. I’m one of those people that say “Can’t you see it, can’t you see that something is wrong?”

So, as with everything else I decided to just start. This will be a multi-post series of some the apps I’ve designed / built. It will be short notes about what I knew when I started, and what I had to learn to get it done. Here we go.

I spent the last three months of 2012 learning to write code during my internship (was a graphic designer for the 4 years before that), and I got a gig with a hustling guy called Mamuzo. He ran a software shop called Webexpress; he’d get the jobs and I’d do the work. The screenshot above was one of the sites I built for him. Sidenote: I hated working with him eventually.

Then in 2013, some of my smartest classmates — Akapo, Sayo and Kingsley (Now Hextremelabs) called me in to join them to design a news aggregator — Booshparrot. This app was supposed to be on the web, and as an android and j2me app. We wanted to create a social community around content. Likes, comment, activity feeds centered around what people were reading.

At this time,

  • My website looked like this http://themerrykid.com/old2013/
  • I knew nothing about APIs, I was strictly HTML, CSS and some jQuery gimmicks
  • I had my graphic design background
  • I knew how to work with templates from Webexpress

Over the next few months, what did I have to learn on the job?

  • How to design a mobile app and provide assets for android. I had to lean heavily on my graphic design knowledge
  • How to design a website from scratch — no templates, no grids, jQuery + CSS transitions
  • How to work in a team of people
  • How a bundled app works. i.e I provide design and someone puts code into it
  • Process of publishing an app to the Nokia and Google Play Store
  • Hustle. We travelled from Ife to the CCHub to pitch our app one time. Got back to Ife around 10pm

In the long run, it was an amazing experience. Shaped me a lot for deciding to start Curation later in September that year, which went on to become Devcenter.

The web version of the app I designed is still up at http://themerrykid.com/bpnew/#. This felt very good to write.

Update: Sayo sent in more mobile screenshots