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Radio host and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, professor and publisher,Karen Hunter, wanted an app to connect her listeners to content and causes they care about, and she turned to recent Hack Reactor grad Justin Webb to build it. Webb was interviewed on the Karen Hunter Show about the process of going from zero to a fully-functioning app that can be used by a large, diverse audience.
Hunter, a prominent voice in talk radio, has interviewed luminaries from entertainer Tyrese Gibson to presidential candidate Ben Carson to sports analyst Stephen A. Smith.
“I saw that she had so many followers on Twitter, and many of my friends knew about her, so it was a little intimidating at first,” Webb recalls on speaking on Hunter’s show, “but we were talking about things I’m comfortable and confident discussing, so it went pretty well.”
The app, Party of Lincoln, is a civic engagement tool. It provides news updates on issues of interest to Hunter’s audience and allows them to contact their elected representatives to make their opinions known. Party of Lincoln also helps users register to vote. The app geotags users so that it can direct them to the correct politicians and resources.
Listen to Webb explain the app-building process here:
Webb broke down app creation into three phases:
“The first is information architecture. That’s where you figure out who your audience is, who is the app for, and what’s going to be easiest for them in the process of using the app,” he explained on the Karen Hunter Show. “During the information architecture, you are just tracking how the user is moving through the application, but with [the second phase] visual design, you’re choosing your color, your fonts, your images, some animation: putting a little gloss on the app. And then the final step which is what everyone typically thinks is the first step is development, which is where you’re writing code.”
Because Hunter has a broad audience with no particular bias toward either iOS or Android, Webb had to build Party of Lincoln so that it would work on either platform.
“I knew that she was going to have a large audience and many of them would be on mobile phones. She specifically requested a mobile app,” Webb explains. “She didn’t have metrics on what platform her users were on, so we went cross platform with Ionic. Beyond that I’m also doing a little Material Design and working with simple graphics that she’s provided in order to build the UI.”
The experience of working one on one with a client helped Webb understand how to set expectations for a client.
“I learned to be very careful with making promises about timelines and building—making sure that all the content is available before setting my timeline,” Webb notes. “Oftentimes you give a timeline based on how quickly you can hack it together, but there are a number of external variables that come into play.”
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