Demo Day is literally right around the corner! We’d like to take a brief moment and thank all of our loyal followers for sticking with us this semester, we couldn’t have gotten this far without you. To show our thanks, we’ve left a present to show our appreciation, our fourth and final promo video.
This week we decided to change it up some. Instead of blabbing on and on about upcoming updates for choreBoard in lieu of D-day, we decided to get choreBoard some real PR experience by answering some questions for Burnt X, a student-run UT publication that specializes in covering campus news. Enjoy!
Our team and app name is one and the same: choreBoard! Nope, that’s not a typo. The capital B is 100% intentional.
What is your app and what does it do?
Our app was designed as a means to ease tensions and avoid passive-aggressive exchanges between roommates over the pressing need to get household chores done. We focused our efforts on creating a funny to-do app that sends out push notifications - or “snarky remarks” as we call them – to people who haven’t completed the tasks they’ve scheduled for themselves. Instead of relying on actual people, we decided to create an innovative way for the app to say it for us, and naturally humor was our ‘go-to’.
The humor is what really makes choreBoard unique, and it’s a voice we’ve kept up on our web presence throughout the duration of the semester (shameless plug for @choreBoard across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!). Our slogan is, “A chore app that takes the person out of personal, throws in a dash of snark and keeps tensions low between roomies.” C’mon, who doesn’t need this?
What inspired your idea for it?
When we were first trying to figure out what kind of app we wanted to create, we ran into a lot of problems. We couldn’t figure out how to make something that people would actually want to use, and how to take our ideas and actually build something from it. That’s when we decided to turn to Journalism Professor Robert Quigley, who is teaching Mobile Apps Design this semester. Professor Quigley advised us that the best way to figure out what to build was to come up with a problem and attempt to solve it. So that’s exactly what we did.
To be honest, we can’t remember when we had that specific “A-ha!” moment, where choreBoard originated from, but we were probably just sitting around complaining about dirty dishes at home and realized that this was our problem to solve.
Did you guys come up with any terrible app ideas before deciding?
We did have the idea to create an InstaTwitter app, which would’ve been a compilation of the two social platforms. Unfortunately, that didn’t really amount to anything, as it never went past verbal discussion. As choreBoard was our first and only baby to make it to development, we couldn’t be more proud. We wish we had more embarrassing stories about initial app ideas that flopped, but ain’t nobody got time for that.
What has been the hardest part of developing your app?
Do you know how hard it is to stand out in a competitive start-up app environment? On UT-Austin Facebook groups alone, there’s daily spam from desperate app developers, trying to push their products. Everyone wants to be the next Instagram or Snapchat, but we’ve always been pretty humble in our vision. We just wanted a working app that did what we claimed it would. When you’re building an app, you get pretty attached to it. You think your idea is the best, most marketable thing ever. There’s a lot of self-bias to get past.
The biggest challenge we faced was finding creative ways to get people to care and understand the hard work put into the marketing and promotion of our app. We hadn’t expected that at all. We learned just how hard it is be a self-promoting development team. It’s definitely one of the many influential aspects to take away from this entire process.
What has been the best or most rewarding part of working on this project?
The finish line, duh. After a semester’s work, seeing the tangible result of a clean, functional and finished product that we’re now working on updating is beyond satisfying. Like with any creative work, it’s great to see an idea solidify into a reality. From a practical standpoint, it’s such a perfect time to release choreBoard to the public because household chores always stack up as people get bombarded with final assignments. We know we’ll be using it in our own homes.
What have your limitations been in developing your app? How would your app be different if you had no limitations?
Time, no doubt about it. If our team members were start-up employees, and we all had a 40-hour workweek solely dedicated to app design, development and branding, that would’ve been our ideal environment to build choreBoard in. But the reality is, we’re four college students with conflicting schedules and a gazillion other projects and/or assignments to get done, so it was a lot harder to put together time to build, design, brand and most importantly promote our app.
At the beginning of the semester, all of the app teams were starry-eyed and hopeful about the features we wanted to include in our apps, but as the semester came to a close we realized we had to narrow our focus. If we had more time to dedicate to the app, we could have included all the features we had wanted to such as, incorporating Venmo so that users could easily split bills, but that’s what updates are for.
What advice do you have for people who want to develop an app?
We can’t stress simplicity, aesthetic appeal and usability enough. It’s easy to get caught up in one’s own perception of how things should work in an app. Whereas, you may think that think that a specific feature is obvious, others users might interpret it differently. That also applies to which font looks best and your eagerness to want to race forward with it. Everyone wants to implement originality into their app, but sometimes it’s best to go ahead and use something standard that been used before, simply because people more comfortable with it.
Even if you do decide to stick with your original buttons, icons or screen-swiping gestures, always remember to put a tutorial in your app to show users how to use it, and add in a help section. Although design elements are often up to personal preference, it’s the smaller things on an app’s interface that is necessary to make it intuitive. You don’t want users to think they should be clicking something, when they really should be sliding across it.
Remember, user testing is key to app development! We’ve learned how important it is to go out and get feedback from people who may or may not potentially use your app in the future. Even the simplest comment or criticism could completely change the way someone views your app. Always double-check with others, even if that just means a quick Facebook poll or asking the friend or stranger sitting next to you to offer their opinion.
Favorite moment working together as a team?
We’ve had a lot of fun bouncing ideas off of each other to come up with snarky remarks to match the list of chores we created. It was definitely entertaining and helped take some of the stress of building off. Sometimes we’d burst out laughing in class and even get the professor in on the joke. That type of comic relief is absolutely necessary now that we’re in final crunch-time mode before Demo Day.