I can’t believe it’s been about a year since I started with the idea of TidyContact, time really flies, especially when you have a busy life full of projects, kids, family, etc, and I am blessed for that. So far I have learned lots of things building TidyContact, most of the things I’ve learned are related to the web framework I am using (ASP.NET MVC), and the service oriented architecture I am implementing with this project. Yes it is taken longer than I expected and I know this goes against the Lean Startup methodology, but frankly, I do not care since what I am doing is fun (to me at least) and it is also a way for me to learn about third-party apis, frameworks, databases, etc… it is geek fun.
During this time I have been able to collect about 60 names of people who are interested in TidyContact, and about half of them showed enough interest to actually pay a monthly subscription for it, that is good. It is truly difficult to develop a product from scratch without any help from other developers, designers, etc… at the same time, it is rewarding every time I reach a milestone such as completing a feature, finishing a module, getting the landing page done, etc… I am looking forward to launching the beta version soon and hope to get valuable feedback to make the application better before the first version launches. I would say I am about 70% done with the version I want to release to beta users, I believe in releasing a minimum viable product and all that stuff, but since this application is something we’ll be using internally in TodoTax.com it won’t make sense to release it if it doesn’t do at least what we want it to do.
I enjoy being involved with different projects and doing different things, keep focus is not easy. However, balancing your life between your startup, family and other projects is also not easy and it should be the most important thing, no doubt about that. Being surrounded by family and doing things not related to software development are key to avoid burning out, this keeps the motivation high and it helps when feeling down.
Regardless of the time spent so far, which is much more than I originally expected, the journey has been both interesting and fun. Because of this project, I have pushed myself to get out there more often than usual, traveling to attend conferences such as the Business of Software and even organizing meetups to get to know bright people and help them any way I can, with this I also help myself.
Working in TidyContact has proven to be very beneficial to me as a developer, it is a different product where I have full control of what it would look like, what features should have, what technologies I use to build it, etc… it helps me balance the frustration that all developers sometimes experience by not having control of the projects or technologies we can work on. This project has also helped me to get better with things like SEO, conversion rates, A/B testing, and other things that are usually not part of a developer’s primary responsibility.
The application’s security, data schema and most of the backend code has been completed, at least the first version of it. The user interface is what is left to do, about 50% is done but this has been a difficult process since creating a good user interface and a great user experience is never an easy task. Loading the application fast, avoiding pages postbacks and building an intuitive application is all part of it and this takes time and skill to do.
In the next few weeks the first version of the UI should be close to completion and so the beta version will be released, after that I’ll start iterating on it more often to make sure I can go from beta to version one in just a matter of weeks and not months.