App developers should focus on creating solutions to issues they deeply care about, in order to develop the best products for the market, according to Litha Soyizwapi, creator of the GauRider app.
The GauRider platform for iOS provides users of the Gautrain public transport network in South Africa’s Gauteng province with a quick and simple way of accessing scheduling information and planning trips via their mobile devices.
Speaking to Disrupt Africa, Soyizwapi said the idea to build the platform arose from the real frustrations of public transport users, and his wish to apply to his programming skills to a real problem.
“I’m am everyday user of the Gautrain service and I wanted to build something that I would use and others would also use everyday. I wanted to apply the knowledge I had learnt when learning programming in the real world,” Soyizwapi said.
According to Soyizwapi, developers deciding on new projects to build should focus on issues they care about, and this will lead them to create quality products which will be successful on the market.
“I think it is always great to develop something at you deeply care about. If you don’t love it you can’t ask enough questions to make it better. Understanding the problem in depth can lead to products with great insights. I focused on empathic solutions based on user frustrations and making technology simpler for the user,” he said.
“You have to love it and care a great deal. I think the journey is more exciting.”
Once developers have set upon an idea and built the first draft, Soyizwapi says iteration is key to success.
“It was really hard [to build GauRider], but I had the working prototype within a week. The hardest part was refining the prototype,” he said.
“There were many versions that looked at user experience. I kept asking questions about the user experience and I kept refining. It’s always best to test apps on an actual device, there are things that work well based on the look and feel but they fail on the actual prototype. Iteration is the name of the game.”
However, it is not only creating a product which is important, Soyizwapi says, as being an entrepreneur entails focusing on and managing a range of activities.
“You have to think about everything. Marketing, production quality, features, technical debt. Everything is important. Saying no to a lot of good ideas. Traction takes time,” he said.
Nonetheless, Soyizwapi feels South African developers and entrepreneurs have a key role to play in creating unique and innovative products for the local and pan-African markets in particular.
“There are so many great opportunities in education, healthcare, transportation, and service delivery in general. I think some of the greatest ideas are yet to come. We always build ideas based on what has worked elsewhere,” he said.
“I think some of the best ideas will be built from ground up with the South African or African perspective and insights. That will lead to the rapid adoption of technology in Africa.”