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Clare Sudbery's Guide to Navigating through iOS App Development

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In the world of app development, failure is just a part of the creative process, and success often lies in collaboration and user engagement. 

Clare Sudbery, a seasoned software developer with over two decades of experience, took the audience on a deep dive into her challenging yet enlightening journey in iOS app development during the YOW! London conference last year. Clare talked about her experiences, hurdles, and triumphs and the process of how she extracted valuable insights that every software developer can apply to their own projects.

The iOS App Development Challenge 

Clare's iOS app development journey began in December 2021 when she embarked on a mission to get her app onto the App Store. With 23 years of experience as a software engineer, Clare was well-versed in software delivery, but iOS development was uncharted territory for her. Despite her extensive background, she quickly realized that developing iOS apps was a different beast altogether.

Pioneering the Minimal Viable Product (MVP)

Clare's initial objective was to construct a rudimentary yet functional app suitable for App Store deployment. Her inspiration stemmed from the popular game Wordle, and she aspired to craft a clone that permitted unlimited daily gameplay. Nevertheless, what initially appeared as a straightforward project soon unveiled layers of complexity.

A month into development, Clare had assembled a skeletal version of her Wordle-inspired game. However, the formidable gauntlet set by Apple for App Store admission extended far beyond her initial estimates. Compliance with Apple's stipulations entailed the creation of a help page, provision of support mechanisms, implementation of feedback channels, strict adherence to UI guidelines, crafting an end-user license agreement, and integrating in-app purchase functionality. Clare's projected one-month timeline soon extended into a protracted endeavor.

Meet Alice, The Inquisitive Companion

Clare introduces the character of "Alice," an abstract entity that incessantly queries her choices and actions throughout her development journey. Alice embodies a voice of scrutiny, persistently challenging Clare's decisions. For instance, Alice questions Clare's decision to commence work on an entirely new app instead of refining the simplest iteration of her original concept.

Plagued by Copycat Conundrums and Rejections

Clare faced her first major setback when her app was rejected due to being perceived as "copycat" content resembling Wordle. This rejection was a turning point, leading Clare to pivot and create a new game related to Wordle. 

Clare conscientiously contemplates the sunk cost fallacy, a cognitive bias that compels individuals to persevere with a project due to the investment already made. She candidly admits that her persistence with the initial app exceeded reason, as she clung to the hope of eventual App Store approval. Yet, she recognized that prolonged persistence led to escalating losses.

In the face of continuous rejections, Clare sustained her motivation by actively engaging beta testers. User feedback served as the cornerstone for comprehending the expectations and preferences of her potential user base. She discerned that her app's strength lay in the hands of users, and their feedback became an indispensable asset.

Following a tumultuous journey with her first app, Clare currently endeavors on the development of an entirely new game, distinguished from Wordle but leveraging her previous codebase. While the prospects remain uncertain, her enthusiasm for future possibilities remains unwavering.

Fart apps 

While it may seem peculiar, the presence of fart apps in the App Store serves as an intriguing case study in the broader landscape of application development. Fart apps are, quite simply, applications designed to produce a crude farting noise at the tap of a button. 

The App Store, keen on maintaining quality and uniqueness, began scrutinizing submissions more closely. Developers who attempted to flood the store with near-identical fart apps faced rejection due to a violation of the App Store's guidelines, particularly those regarding originality and the redundancy of existing applications. Fart apps highlight the broader principles that developers should consider: originality, adherence to guidelines, and user-centric design. 

Technical Insights for Software Developers

Clare’s journey through iOS app development imparts a wealth of technical wisdom to fellow software developers:

  • Start with a walking skeleton, i.e a basic, deployable version of your software early in the development process is crucial.
  • Begin with a Robust Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and iteratively evolve.
  • Embrace strategic pivoting when necessary, and be willing to abandon unfruitful ventures. Minimize risks by working in small steps. 
  • Prioritize user feedback and integrate beta testing into your development cycle.
  • Guard against the sunk cost fallacy—pragmatism often necessitates cutting losses.
  • Collaborate, expedite user interactions, and iterate toward success.

Clare's experience serves as a testament to the technical and intellectual challenges in software development. It reminds us that even experienced developers face adversity, but it's how we adapt and learn from these challenges that ultimately lead to growth and innovation in the field.