Launch: LetCheck – Rental property reviews for Ireland

I’ve launched my first proper web application this week. I’ve talked about launching a decent web application for a long (loooooooooong) time. I really wanted to see this through to launch and get version 1.0 live. It’s been 6 months of coding. There was a lot of thinking before this, and a lot of thinking during the 6 months too. This was all evening weekend coding and there were a lot of extended breaks in the process, but I’ve learned so much a developer in my Day job, that when I sit down to code in the evening, an hour is very valuable. With the right framework and tools, you can work very efficiently with little time.

LetCheck.eu is a property review site. It’s targeted at the rental market. I’ve felt over the past few years, that there was a missed opportunity for renters to be able to have a voice about where the live/lived. I’ve had this app in mind for almost 3 years, but finally got some momentum this year to get it live.

LetCheck

Please take a look, review where you have lived, and give me feedback. Launching is just the first step, and I have a lot of work to do to get a solid user base. Without solid content, the site is of no use to general web users (consumers), so it is important to attract and retain content creators.

The Social Network

I’m a very easy person to inspire. I can get inspiration from a lot of sources, people I know, movies, books, blogs, ideas. Most of my inspiration comes from true stories rather than fables. Fables being ideals rather than having actually happened.

Facebook LogoThe Social Network was a good movie, and quite inspirational. Cutting it down to the basic story, Mark Zuckerberg codes the beginnings of facebook in a few weeks, and it spreads quickly through major colleges. The initial idea was simple and he executed the basics and got it out there quickly. There was no long term plan, just an idea and the drive to build and launch quickly. This is a great way to look at any personal/professional projects.

Iterate

Iterate, the first iteration being launch, then iterate continuously. Forever. Evolve the product with the user-base, and make sure it stays relevant. An idea is just that until it’s real.

Anywho, after watching videos on Lance Armstrong I get an overwhelming urge to get on my bike and ride. Coming back from the social network, I want to crack open an IDE and start coding like a boss. Most of my ideas are (probably) shit, but I’ll never know unless I launch. 2011 goal #1, launch a site. There, it’s written down now. I have to do it.

BTW, my earlier post on goals for this year (written in January), there’s a post coming to see how I’ve done with that shortly. Stay tuned.

p.s. I promise I’m back blogging more consistently from here on in. At least for the winter months.

p.p.s. The blog is now on wordpress.

Software is not about code

Note: This post has been in draft since October 2006. But my views have changed very little, which is nice. My grammar has changed though, so I’ve made a few adjustments to reflect that.

There are many programmers/software developers out there who take a requirements spec, design what the spec says, and deliver the product which is what the client wants, right?

Software is for people, the people who use it. Not the people who wrote the spec. It is vital to understand the original business need rather than the software need. In most cases a non technical committee wrote this spec, and from that you can be sure that it is bloated, likely with after thoughts. It doesn’t take much time to ask for more, but it takes more time to create it and even more time than that to avoid it when using it.

Spend time with the user. Don’t ask them what they want, but observe and try to understand what they need. If you spend time with the customer/end user of the software, you will quickly realise that the core business need is much simpler than the spec your recieved.

I work as an software consultant in an IT Outsourcing company, based in Dublin. Software development is not one of the companies core markets, but we do have a need for small systems to help with our business processes.

When I recieve a spec, I read it once, then head to the person who needs the application. I spend time with them, watching their work, and what they do daily. I ask them their expectations for the system, and tell them my ideas. I know this is not ideal when a spec is from an external client, but if it can be built into the requirements building process, this can work to the advantage of all parties involved, ultimately to the end users satisfaction.