In my last post, I formally announced to whoever stumbled upon this blog by mistake that I was finally going to start working on my Live2Leave app idea and make it happen, after four years of finding reasons not to do it.
It was all very exciting, I shared with you my big project and dream. Fantastic.
But then comes the next question, a little less glamorous and a little more pragmatic: how does one build an app? Or in other words for your average homo sapiens — someone like me: how does your idea one day magically appear on an iPhone screen?
(NB: from now onwards, all words that need to be explained to other homo sapiens reading this blogpost will have a “*” and a footnote)
“What does vinegar have to do with my travel app?”
Laura, my friend who did a startup (don’t we all have a friend like that nowadays?) sent me what felt like a disappointing one-word answer to my over-enthusiastic email about finally building Live2Leave: “Balsamiq.”
As an avid eater, and a French person, my first reaction was to think about how good fresh lettuce tastes with that vinaigrette I love to make: olive oil, half a spoon of Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt and some Balsamic vinegar. Five minutes later, as I was done thinking about that salad and what I would eat with it (cheese), my next thought was about how bad Laura’s spelling had gotten. It’s BalsamiC Laura, not BalsamiQ! And anyway, what does vinegar have to do with my travel app?
I didn’t actually ask Laura that because 1) I’m way funnier in real life 2) Laura is usually quite good at spelling 3) we also all have a friend called Google who can answer those questions without having to embarrass ourselves in front of that “friend who did a startup.”
“Balsamiq is NOT vinegar but a wireframing software”
Turns out, as you little geniuses might have guessed by now, that Balsamiq is NOT vinegar but a wireframing* software that enables people with very poor drawing skills like me to create something that looks like an app rather than a two-year-old’s painting. Obviously, you still need a developer** to turn those wireframes into the apps you use every day. But that comes at a later stage. Indeed, Google and Laura-my-friend-who-did-a-startup also told me that I first needed to create a better version of those illegible drawings that I’d made when hit by the occasional anxiety attack of “I really should try to do this app,” so that when I would eventually hire a developer and a designer***, they would have a clear idea of what I wanted to do and I would save time and money.
So off I went with my newly acquired tech knowledge. I downloaded Balsamiq, feeling pretty happy about the free 30-day trial as I was initially convinced I’d fail at using it. But 30 days later, I ended up buying the licence that would let me use Balsamiq indefinitely because I had already made dozens of wireframes and found the whole thing surprisingly easy to use. Believe it or not, I even had fun with it. Even more surprisingly, I realized that those four years thinking about the app meant I had actually created it entirely in my mind and knew exactly how I wanted it to look like, which functions it would have and how it would work.
“It made me feel a little bit less like an average homo sapiens and a little more confident about myself and my idea”
All of this happened four months ago. After that, every time I found myself waiting for hours at a South American airport because of a delayed Aerolineas Argentinas flight (I told you I would one day get my public revenge Aerolineas!), I created some wireframes. The whole process wasn’t going particularly fast as I was still married to my journalism job 14 hours a day and generally didn’t feel ready to fully commit to the idea that I was indeed building an app. But I still somehow found it fulfilling to have tangible proof — and something less embarrassing than my ugly drawings — that Live2Leave wasn’t only made of words and could maybe exist one day if I got my sh** (no footnote here) together.
I ended up with 103 wireframes that were logically linked to one another, and I knew that because Balsamiq lets you create a PDF version of your wireframes with interactive icons, which means that you can actually click on the different icons like you would do with a real app on your phone. So it basically looks like an app, without having any of the actual content in it. That made me feel a little bit less like an average homo sapiens and a little more confident about myself and my idea. And one day, about a month ago, I finally felt ready and asked Google with that minimal language that we tend to use when interacting with it: “hire developers and designers.”
How on earth I actually managed to do that will be explained in my next post.
Until then, follow us on Facebook Live2Leave and Instagram @live2leave !
Footnotes for the homo sapiens:
*”wireframes” are the different screens you have in an app, such as Profile, Feed etc…
** a person who speaks the language of computers, also known as programming language (and there are many of those, like Java, Python, Ruby and many more with alien-like names)
*** a person who designs what you see when you look at an app (the font, the colors, but also the various ‘movements’ of an app, like what happens when you click on a certain button)