We enjoy working with clients who come to us to develop applications that make users’ lives easier and better. What we also love is when newly developed applications are also eye-pleasing, fun, and interactive. Recently, GBKSOFT team worked on one really great project, and now when it finished we are so glad to talk about it with its owner – John Lyon-Smith. The application we are going to discuss is FerryView, and that is a real success story! It is also worth mentioning that this project was built on Flutter, and it was an amazing experience for all our team.
First of all, we’d like to introduce you to our client. His name is John Lyon-Smith, he lives in Seattle, Washington, where the largest ferry system in America is located. Every day, thousands of people take ferries to get to work or home. So, as you can imagine, sometimes things go wrong: ferries are late or people who use the ferry system for the first time get confused in timetables.
Of course, there is a governmental site and an application that help people figure out the schedules. But unfortunately, both solutions are rather inconvenient for average users. And that’s what disappointed John so much that he decided to create his own brand-new application that will make ferry rides joyful and give easy access to all schedules and routes.
As John is preparing for the release at the moment, we asked him to share his thoughts and feelings about the beginning of his project and his experience of working with GBKSOFT team.
O: John, tell us please about yourself. What do you do for a living?
J: I’m a software developer living in the United States in Seattle, WA. I’ve been in the software industry for quite a long time, since the early nineties. I worked with a lot of big companies like Microsoft, and now I’m working for Amazon. I’ve been interested in doing a small mobile app for a long time, and I’ve even written a few games and other small projects. Now I have a list of small apps I want to build, and FerryView is one of the apps on this list. But I’ve never had time to explore it, as my full-time job consumes a lot of time. Over my career, I have worked with offshore development, and finally, I decided it was time to self-fund this project.
O: How did you come up with the idea of the application?
J: About 10 years ago, I moved to this area. I started to take a ferry to get to my house, and it was a new experience for me. At the time there was no app, only a website with ferry schedules. As you know, apps are a little more convenient on a phone, they are faster. I also knew what I wanted from this project. You typically ride one-two ferries, you don’t use the whole system, so I wanted the app to be focused on your own journeys, while the website shows you the whole schedule at once.
I thought about it as a fun project to give back to my community. Riding ferries is a very fun experience for people, especially new ones. A lot of families go here on vacation here, there are a lot of children. On a sunny day, it’s absolutely beautiful on the water, you can see a lot of whales, dolphins and other sea life. I wanted the app to reflect that.
O: There is another app with ferries’ schedules. How is FerryView different?
J: It doesn’t try to present all the information, and it doesn’t overload the user. It’s very focused. I don’t want people to spend a lot of time looking at the schedule, as it is with the website. They don’t need to search around, and that makes the user experience better.
The other thing is that FerryView is more enjoyable, more fun, it has more graphics and animations. They make the app more enjoyable, especially when your ferry is late, and you wonder if you can catch the next one.
I’ve already had a lot of feedback, and people have come up with cool suggestions for new features, it’s a good sign!
O: What is your monetization model?
J: It will be a paid app. I don’t want to use ads, it’s a personal thing as I never liked advertising-driven software. I thought about giving the app for free, and I may do it at some point. But for now, I want to recoup the cost of development. Once that done, I’ll donate the rest to a local charity or drop the price to zero. This app wasn’t really created for money-making.
O: How did you choose the team and how did you find GBKSOFT?
J: I have learned about GBKSOFT while I was working in another company. I was impressed with your site, your experience, and the whole package you put together. So when I came up with a decision to do FerryView, I looked through my list of contractors and chose you. You were so easy to work with! It made things fun, and my Project Manager always kept things moving forward. It was really a delight!
O: What were you afraid of when starting the project?
J: I’ve worked with offshore teams, and I’ve been a fan of it for a long time. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, but it wasn’t the case. I was impressed with your communication, as it’s very important to stay engaged in the process for all parties. You made sure that I stayed commented on Jira and checking the Slack channel. It was a two-way thing: I was committed to be engaged, and you kept me engaged by continuing to reach out and ask for questions and clarifications. And the final result shows that.
Another risk is that you could never be sure of the code quality. It took us a long time to get to the coding part, as we were doing a lot of designing. As a developer, I was anxious to get to that part and check the code myself, but it turned out it wasn’t a problem. Now I know that the quality of your code is really good, and I’m now worried about going forward with you on other projects.
O: Did you change or add something to the project during development?
J: I don’t really like to make changes when the coding started, because it frustrates developers. Once we figured all the screens and user flow, there were only minor changes. Your team was very accommodating and very gracious about them. But when the app is out there and there is feedback, I plan to come back to you and implement changes to improve the app.
O: When do you plan to release an application and how do you plan to promote it?
J: I would like to get it released by the beginning of July. I want to test it through June. You got a one-shot when releasing an app, and you can’t mess it up.
Summer is typically the time here when people go on vacation, and there is a line of cars getting on a ferry. I want to do an advertising campaign at that time and put posters with QR-codes on the ferries. I want a lot of people to join the app, though I need to make sure it works well.
I don’t think I will do other advertising, as it’s very geo-related to the area, and I hope it would be a word of mouth and posters. People would see them, check the app, see that it’s 2 dollars, think: “I can afford that!” But if the paid model doesn’t work, I will drop the price and give it away for free.
O: Are you satisfied with the finished project?
J: It was interesting to work with Flutter development and I wanted to see what an app would be built on it. Flutter is rather new and rather exciting and has a lot of potentials. Now I’ve seen your code on it and I also got a second opinion on it, and it looks amazing. The end result is good, and I’m happy with it!
O: Can you describe our cooperation in 3 words?
J: “Wow! Great software” (laughing).
I think it really sums it up, you build great software, and that could be a slogan for you. I have to say that I’m really impressed with your good English. Communication is important, and a lot of people don’t go for offshore teams because of language differences. And I’ve been telling everyone how easy it’s to talk to you.
O: Do you plan to cooperate with GBKSOFT again?
J: Yes, FerryView was a pilot project to work with you. I have at least a dozen ideas that are potentially revenue-generating, and I would like to explore them with you. In the beginning, I wanted to see how it was to work with you. You do a full-service development, and I liked that.
We want to thank John for such a wonderful cooperation and joyful interview! We wish John good luck with FerryView and all other projects he is going to build in the near future!