How our fearless mobile developers rebuilt our apps from scratch
These days when everyone’s on-the-go and working on their phone, it’s critical for businesses to have killer apps.
For awhile, we didn’t. Both our iOS and Android mobile apps were, how shall we phrase this? They had room to improve. They took forever to load, crashed constantly, and had very limited functionality.
That’s because in the first few years of building monday.com, we invested all our energy into building the best possible application for the web, and we outsourced our mobile apps. They were like a neglected stepchild, languishing in the dark as we poured effort and love into monday.com and our internal BI tool BigBrain.
But about a year ago, we knew it was time for that to change. So we hired two brilliant Lead Mobile Developers, one for iOS and one for Android, who rode in like knights on white horses. But rather than slaying any dragons or saving any princesses, they instead found a mobile kingdom in ruins, and got to the unglamorous and painstaking process of rebuilding our apps from scratch, brick by proverbial brick.
We’re so proud of their work and where our apps stand today, and are even more excited for our future plans to build a stand-alone mobile app. We wanted to tell you about the huge improvements we’ve made so far as well as introduce you to the legends who resurrected our apps from the dead.
Android Lead Developer: Ofer Tour (left)
Fun fact: Once a huge fan of burgers, he’s now (mostly) a vegan
Likes: His adorable family
Dislikes: Bees, wasting time
iOS Lead Developer: Ariel Pollack (right)
Fun fact: He is by far the tidiest member of our team
Likes: Crossfit, spending time with his brilliant and beautiful wife
Dislikes: The heathens in our office who don’t clean up after themselves
Ariel: “I started working at monday.com in March 2016. At that point, the iOS mobile app was extremely limited in functionality. You could basically only write and reply to updates. Every single screen on the app had a serious issue. There were 800 daily active users, and most of them were complaining. 🙂
The app had been outsourced as a quick way to enter the mobile market, but it wasn’t given a lot of attention and there was nearly no focus on building a mobile UI/UX. Each board took a full minute to load. Notifications didn’t work. It was a mess.
When I got started, the first month was all about damage control, just trying to minimize the number of crashes and bugs. Then, with time, we focused on our goal to really improve it and get it functioning on a level comparable to the web application.”
Ofer: “When I started in June 2016, the status for the Android app was the same as iOS, but even worse. 🙂 When I started, I couldn’t even compile the project—the whole thing was broken. I spent the first few days just getting it up and running, and I ended up having to rewrite it all from scratch.
Our apps were so bad, people in our very own company just accessed the web from their mobile browsers. And we never made any effort to market it, because there was just so much room for improvement.”
Ariel: “We’ve worked hard to bring things to where they are now, and we’re really proud of the apps as they stand today. One of the biggest things that we’ve built is native boards, meaning the boards are built specifically for your phone and take advantage of the specifics of working with a touchscreen. There are no web wrappers; everything is native to mobile.
We also made vast improvements to the speed. From loading time that took minutes, which is basically eons when you’re working online, it now takes millseconds. The UX has gotten a lot of attention and now is very sleek and beautiful. We’ve created a really rich experience that mimics almost everything you can do on the web.”
Ofer: “We now have 2500 daily active users, and best of all, we have excellent reviews. 70-80% have given us a rating 4-5 stars. The 20% that gave us fewer than 4-5 are waiting on missing features and functionalities that we’ll add soon.
We’ve moved to a proactive approach to finding errors. We started monitoring the new things that we do so that we can prevent crashes and bugs before they happen.”
Ariel: “I write every new feature in Swift, and we use MVVM architecture. Ofer writes every new feature in Kotlin, using VIPER architecture, RxJava, and dependency in Dagger.
We work in parallel in different languages and on different operating systems, but we’re very much a team. We create our roadmap together and all of our improvements are a shared success.”
Ofer: “The most challenging part of our work is also the most rewarding. We’re a one-man show, responsible for way more than coding. We don’t have a QA or Product team helping us, so we own our apps in every sense: we think about new features, push the roadmap, find an track bugs. We communicate with our users, think about release cycles, add new testing, improve the technology, and even take care of a lot of the basic marketing. That keeps us focused on the big picture at all times.
Because we have no safety net, we take on a whole new level of responsibility and have to think on a broader level. Every developer in this company is an architect, tester, and coder. It’s a tough but rewarding way to work.”
Ariel: “We own and decide on everything. It’s our responsibility to see both our failures and our wins. It’s so cool that until now, we didn’t really try to market the app or push it in any way, and now we feel that it’s something we’re proud of and that we can market.”
Ofer: “The future is going to be even better. We want to triple our team and build a totally stand-alone app, meaning you can enjoy the full functionality of monday.com without ever having to touch a computer. That means we’re going to start filling the gap between features that are available on the web that aren’t yet on mobile, such as building the timeline for mobile. Then we’re going to create features unique to mobile.
It’s going to be a really exciting challenge to build things that haven’t been implemented in any other app so far. For that, we want to triple our team and really start ramping up our efforts. 2017 is going to be a great year for mobile.”