Lighthouse was an opportunity for me to learn new skills while solving an issue I have personally encountered. I love to explore the outdoors and discover new places in both rural and urban environments. I wanted an extremely simple way to catalogue the places I’ve been, and the places that I want to explore. I needed a tool that would save my location and give it context in a way that would mean something unique to me. This product needed to make each place I discover feel personal and special, without the frills and bloated features other location-based apps provide. I didn’t need a rating system, nor recommendations for what’s around me. I didn’t want to be told what to do or where to go, because I value the experience of discovering something new on my own and needed the simplest way to save those moments.
The process of creating Lighthouse began when I was searching for a tool to fit my needs, downloading several apps in the process and coming up empty handed. The big players such as Google Maps and Apple Maps have a pin drop feature in which users can technically save interesting places, but I would challenge anyone to go through that process without feeling frustrated. Yes, the functionality is there, buried deep within the app, but doing anything to personalize your saved places feels nearly impossible. If you are happy with a list of places all titled “dropped pin,” and want to spend too much time digging through your list to actually find what you’re looking for, then Apple Maps and Google Maps is your tool. But I wanted something better, something with a personal touch that accomplishes the user’s needs as quickly and simply as possible. The only problem was, it didn't exist. So I was going to have to build it myself.
In order to build Lighthouse, I had to learn a whole new set of skills I didn’t have prior to this experience; I would need to learn and understand how to build an iOS app using Xcode and either Objective-C or Swift. I have experience developing for the web, but this would be my first attempt really “developing” a product. Within three months of studying and learning the basics of Swift, I began to crack down on Lighthouse. Throughout the process I taught myself the ins and outs of working with Xcode storyboards, learning about the Swift language, and understanding the logic behind software development.
I discovered that to become a better designer, one must learn how to code, because there are so many little pieces of the puzzle you can’t see if you focus solely on design. Learning to code and understanding the structure of an app forces you to design well for any situation from the start. With so many new things to learn, working on Lighthouse may have been one of my most valuable projects to date. Each day I learned something new, and the app came closer and closer to being ready. Within three weeks I built version 1 and submitted it to the App Store. A week later, I was accepted on the first submission and Lighthouse was live. I went from zero experience with iOS development, to having a completed app available in the App Store in just a few months.
It’s still early in the lifecycle of Lighthouse, and I intend to push regular updates with new tweaks and features that stem from user feedback. Just a couple of weeks into the project, Lighthouse has users from all over the world saving locations in places including the United States, Belgium, the U.K, Ecuador, and Morocco. Lighthouse serves a small audience with a very specific problem, and it is my intention to build a product that the target audience loves. Creating Lighthouse has taught me a great deal in project design and development, as well as the steps necessary to build a product from start to finish. With each iteration and update I will learn something new, which is the only way to build a product people will love. Listen to your users, the rest will follow.
Entrepreneurship, Git, Version Control, UX Design, UI Design, Swift, Xcode, Wireframing, Business Development, Marketing, User Research.