While I had the best of intentions to get a blog post out on a weekly or biweekly basis, it obviously hasn’t happened. I have excuses, but I’ll spare you. I did want to update you though since we just finished our first official coding project for Montana Code School and presented it publically. So for this post, I want to share a few things I learned about the process as well as give you a look at what we created.
In late June we spent a weekend generating ideas and thinking about the technologies and functionality that we wanted in our web app. Harold Shinsato, one of the founders of the Montana Code School and a local Open Space facilitator, led us through an interesting process of brainstorming and pitching different ideas and project possibilities. After several rounds of discussion, I teamed up with three other women intent on creating a “Montana Women’s Wellness Resource” web app. The idea had been one that a few of us had talked about in the weeks leading up to the project-brainstorming weekend. We agreed initially on one thing: to put together an app that would have a socially-useful function and that wouldn’t be simply a business, finance or retail services app. While we knew that much of the information we wanted for our app would already be available elsewhere on the web, we envisioned a “one-stop-shop” that would meet the needs of women in Montana searching for information about local health and wellness resources.
During our brainstorming weekend, we developed a long list of “like to have” features: a database of local pharmacies, clinics, doctors, counselors, women’s gyms, political and social organizations, a chatbot that could help women navigate the site, a list of emergency telephone numbers, a discussion forum, a way to check on medical symptoms. We wanted to make a mobile app, or if that wasn’t possible, at least to make a mobile-responsive website. We wanted it to be accessible to women across Montana of different ages, locations, and personal circumstances. Needless to say, we fell short of our initial goals in this first version of the project. What we did create, however, has given us a lot of insight not only into how to create a web app, but into the whole process of development, from generating initial ideas, doing the coding and markup necessary to turn the ideas into a real thing, and then polishing and deploying the app.
Lessons Learned: Mobile First, React, APIs
Given that it was our first project and that we had just over a month to complete it, I think the app looks great. It still has a few issues: the map information and list of doctors and pharmacies are slow to load and the navigation buttons don’t work on the symptom checker page. Oh, and the symptom checker doesn’t work right now. It is currently only the sandbox version used for testing and development and the access token times out after a couple of hours. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to come back and work on it some more at a later date. In the meantime, you can view the app here: