Last week we welcomed 16-year-old Harry to the team for a week’s worth of work experience. At Simpleweb, we love new ideas, creativity and curiosity. So we weren’t just going to be handing over the admin and paperwork…

Harry’s challenge: to design and prototype his very own app-based startup and present it to the team in just 5 days.

A challenge that’s not for the faint hearted. But we had faith, as we’d already seen how two year 9s had approached startup development better than most founders and year 10 student Ben prototyped a cafe queue-busting app.

Idea validation

Throwing him in at the deep end, we asked Harry to come up with an idea for an app. And he came up with three!

You can just let you imagination go wild and come up with these impossibly huge designs

Coming up with loads of great ideas is fantastic, but in the startup world, knowing there are people out there who would use it is the most important thing.

He paired up with Project Manager Dave to sketch out the problems and solutions his app ideas were solving – and before we knew it, we were live testing his ideas with the rest of the team via our Slack channel.

Harry’s travel app idea was the clear winner. Born out of a frustration when putting together travel plans and itineraries, Harry’s tool would allow holidaymakers to plan out their holidays (or copy others’ plans!). Covering everything from activities, to meals, tickets, travel plans, accommodation and handy notes – the app would keep everything in one place.

Learning from a user’s perspective

Harry already had some coding skills in python under his belt (which he’d notably already used to build a couple of his own arcade games) but he’d not had much exposure to the business and design side of things before.

His travel planner app was ambitious, with a long list of features. This is a common problem we come up against with our passionate startup founders. However, we often find that paring things down to basic functions is crucial in the early-stages of testing an idea.

It takes much more planning and designing than I thought

Harry spent the next few days simplifying his idea, sketching out designs on pen and paper and copying the components into photoshop ready to start prototyping.

We were impressed how quickly Harry took to the process of iteration and reiteration and before we knew it, he’d produced a clickable prototype in Marvel App.

Once the team could see what Harry was up to and have a play, he landed himself with a bunch more suggestions and was quickly able to learn about, and improve, the user experience of the app with a handy tutorial. You can have a look yourself here.

The Big Sell

On Harry’s final day, he put together a landing page for his startup – now named Traveler – and pitched his idea to ops director Becs, and front-end developers Craig and David.

It takes guts to put your ideas out there, and we were impressed with Harry’s confidence in pitching, as well as the detail that had gone into the app prototype.

David commented that he would’ve loved to use it on his honeymoon in place of the long list his wife had made on a Google doc and Becs said how handy it would be if she could use it to help her plan a holiday with a group of friends next month.

Commenting on the week himself, Harry tells us: “I learned how much work goes into every aspect of creating an app and how much it can change from your original vision of it during the development process.

“I found the design of the app quite difficult – going from an idea in your head to a design that looks good.

“However, I had loads of fun coming up with all the ideas for the different apps and what they would do. You can just let you imagination go wild and come up with these impossibly huge designs even if they would never work.

“The biggest thing I’ll take away would be how slow it is to make these. It takes much more planning and designing than I thought before you can start making anything.”

If you’d like to discuss your startup or project, get in touch with Simpleweb today.

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