In light of app development becoming somewhat of a ‘I wish I did that’ career and IOS dev becoming the new cool, we talk to a solo designer who had an idea and got it out there. In this weeks score he tells us how he did it and why you guys should consider it too. So this week, our score comes from designer and creator of the OATBook iPhone app Rob Cleaton. Mr Cleaton, with your tiny eyes, take it away.
So, for all those that don’t know, what is OATBook? Give us an overview.
OATBook is a iPhone App to help users undergoing Oral Anticoagulant Therapy (OAT) monitor and record their medication.
What drove you to make the app?
This is an ongoing personal project for me, it’s totally self initiated and a dynamic solution based on first hand experience.
Following a medical procedure last summer, I am now on a lifelong course of Warfarin that’s measured through regular blood tests. These monitor my INR (International Normalised Ratio) against my INR range (set by the clinic that manages my medication). Falling out of this range carries some scary consequences so it’s important to be monitored regularly. Patients undergoing OAT are either tested by their local anticoagulation clinic, or they self test at home with a special blood tester. In both cases, patients currently have to record their INR range in a special yellow book issued by the clinic. Which to me, seemed a pretty long winded way of doing something and fairly daunting as it would be a lifelong and repetitive process for most people.
Rather than having to manually keep track of my fluctuating daily dosage in my yellow book, I wanted to be able to do it digitally. Which I think is quite a natural way of approaching something these days, people are often looking for apps/sites/services that suit their personal needs.
I wanted an app to record my blood test results, my appointment notes, prescription notes and the dates that I need to check in with the clinic. An app that helped me stay in my INR range by reminding me to take my medicine and monitor my blood regularly.
So you saw a gap in the market for something and you went out and did it, do you think that is the attitude to have these days? That creativity can come from the need for something?
Yep, just go out there and get something up. It’s the best way to learn anything new, not everything will be perfect first time, that’s part of it, it’s how you respond to this that will make it successful. The important thing I found was to test and learn along the way, it’s a very fluid process and something that took a bit getting used to, but seeing something that you’ve created come to life is a very pleasing feeling.
How did you get started?
Since I first conceived the idea for the app, I felt that it was something that would be useful to anyone undergoing OAT and not just me. Because of this I wanted something that felt friendly and easy to interact with.
Medically and functionality wise, the app had to highlight the importance of regular dosage times but more importantly aid the communication with the user’s clinic. Something which is currently an old fashioned process.
From my early sketches I started working up the key screens making sure it captured all key features but most importantly focusing on the user and what they would find useful. The screens were purposely stripped back from all design to allow me to purely focus on the functionality and allow me to quickly make changes.
Tell us about the testing process?
From working up the user flow I could then get it into making small prototypes in context of the iPhone. This was important to confirm decisions on user flow/interaction and easily change to simplify it where possible. It’s so simple and doesn’t take any coding but proved valuable when talking developers through it.
And the financial investment/return?
It took some financial investment from me to fund ie: apple developers license and developers fee but skill swaps and working on other freelance work all helps with funding it. My advice to anyone thinking about getting a personal project out there is to do whatever you can to get it live, bribe your mates, fund yourself or approach people and offer a skill swap, who knows what you might get out of pursuing an idea you have.
You’re a designer by trade, was it easy to make the leap into thinking about IOS app development? Is it something you would recommend?
I think any designer can turn their hand to producing a solution to solve a complicated problem regardless of the media. A personal project or something different from your 9-5 is definitely something I would recommend to anyone who wants to go into working in a new field and to not just sit on an idea. Go out and do it.
What advice would you give about getting into app development or the benefits of personal projects such as yours?
I think personal projects are really important. They’re the best way to introduce yourself into something new, a new way of working and a new way of thinking plus open doors with portfolio fodder. If you don’t go out and do something with your idea no one will.
How difficult would you say it was?
I wouldn’t say it was difficult at all. I wanted to learn something new as well as produce a solution that would benefit my health. I think the daunting world of unfamiliarity may be uncomfortable but its the best way to learn anything new and throw some hours at it.
Best app you’ve seen so far this year?
Really loved what Cardiio have come out with this year, it detects your heart rate by using the iphones front facing camera.
So there you have it guys. If you’ve got that one idea you think might actually go somewhere or help you earn something new, get the fuck out there and make it happen.
Til’ next time, much love. The YCC x
Posted in: Weekly Score