How To Start Building Apps, According To 6 Women Developers At WWDC 2019
Every June, Apple hosts its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), where app developers and engineers convene in sunny California to hear all the latest updates from the tech giant. The conference is a great opportunity to hear about what's new with Apple, but it's also a chance for developers to get together, share ideas, and make connections that might just lead to the next biggest download on the App Store. But before all of that, these developers have to get started building apps — something that, if you're anything like me, sounds as hard to do as building a house from the ground up. But as 6 women developers attending WWDC tell Bustle, it doesn't have to be as hard as it's cracked up to be.
Having a great idea for an app starts from finding a problem that needs a solution, according to these women, but the next phase is actually bringing the app to your phone screen. And that takes dedication.
"I started coding for the first time at 40," Renee Olson, 44, founder of Deepr, tells Bustle. "It's the hardest thing I've ever done."
"In an industry where you don't see a lot of people who look like you, you have to get that internal motivation to support you going forward," Ketaki Shriram, 27, co-founder of Krikey, tells Bustle.
No one will say learning to code is a piece of cake, but with that motivation, a little inspiration, and a healthy dose of mentorship, creating the next great app is way more in reach than you'd think. Here's how 6 women got started — and you can, too.
Sidney Hough, 17
I got into mobile app development when I started thinking about how the mobile platform is so accessible. Everyone has a phone and everyone uses apps. So I wanted to make something that could have maximum impact. Mostly, I taught myself. I used Coursera, YouTube videos. There's just like so many resources out there to get started. Honestly, I think code itself is something you can definitely teach herself. It's probably going to be even faster if you learn yourself compared to a class because you can learn what's applicable to your apps as you go. My advice to others who want to get started coding is to have a solid idea. Keep a goal in mind, a vision that you want to fulfill at some point. Think about the technologies you need to incorporate into what you want to accomplish, and work your way from there.
Larissa Laisch, 23
I started coding in high school, when I was about 15. I was mostly coding for Legal Robot and then continued to develop for iOS. I love that you can share your code on the App Store and distribute it to a lot of people. Coding was so much fun to me, and I wanted to continue doing it. It enables me to work on several different projects that I like. Before I started coding, I always thought it was just technical, like pure math. But I was surprised by how much creativity it requires because sometimes, there's no clear way to a specific sequence, especially in software engineering. You have to come up with creative ways to solve different problems. I also love communicating with other people and working in a team. Being a woman in STEM isn't so different to being a man in STEM, except you have a bit more responsibility to encourage other women to trust themselves that they can do it. I think it's helpful to start on a platform, like Swift, where it's not too difficult to set everything up, and then look for a project that you're really passionate about.
Ariana Isabel Sokolov, 17
When I was was eight years old, I was supposed to be in this photography class, but I actually walked into a computer science class. And I loved it. I really love developing apps because it kind of integrates my two passions of art and technology, since both are equally important. Since then, I've around 12 apps. One tells people what to do in the event of like an active shooting, and there's one that's a sticker pack that's supposed to encourage girls in STEM.
Being a woman in STEM is an interesting environment. I feel like usually like there aren't many people like me [at events like WWDC], and I think that it's been really helpful, to have this community. I love going to the Women at Apple breakfast every year here, and hearing other people's journeys. My cofounder is also female and so it's been really great having that support system within our organization.
Ketaki Shriram, 27
I actually started in virtual reality, which is not related to mobile apps. I got my PhD at the Stanford Virtual human Interaction Lab in 2017, which was very much on the heavy technical side. I got into developing through my sister, who was working at YouTube at the time. We were talking about interesting ways to do storytelling with technology. At the time, Augmented Reality (AR) was still very much in its infancy, but we thought that mobile AR would be a very accessible way for young people to try to tell stories. That was sort of how the idea for our company, Krikey, was born, and it eventually evolved into mobile gaming, which is where we've sort of landed today.
One of the challenges for us as women entrepreneurs has been sticking with these skills. In an industry where you don't see a lot of people who look like you, you have to get that internal motivation to support you going forward. It was very good timing that Apple announced AR Kit pretty much that same year [that we founded Krikey]. And so we were lucky I think to have those tools to support us in our development.
Renee Olson, 44
My app, Deepr, is a dating app that painlessly helps women get their awkward questions out of the way up front. Having been both an entrepreneur and a developer, I'd say just being on your own is really hard, and trying to find the right people to work with. I'd tell people who are getting into code for the first time not to be intimidated. Never think it's not the right time or you're too old, or too young, or you don't have the background. I'm somebody who never coded, learned myself, and had different career path. If you have a dream and motivation and perseverance, you just find the way. But it's grueling and it's the hardest thing I've ever done.
Lily Chen, 16
I was always really involved in the STEM community. I do competitive math, so from there I met a lot of different role models and mentors who said I should apply myself at coding. I started learning Java when I was 15, and then I moved into Swift. I'm still expanding onto different fields. I definitely want to learn a better user interface (UI) so I can integrate that into my app and include accessibility features. When I first got started I was like, I want to build an app but I have no idea how. So I would really check out other blogs to get a grasp on what they're doing. YouTube tutorials will give you the broad strokes and basics. Then find your own niche and personal passion through that.
These women's stories show that no matter what your relationship to coding is like, the most important thing is to have a vision you want to see through. Everything else can come later.