Breathing New Life Into Popular Travel App
Interview with uPackingList Project Manager
Each of us travels a lot, whether to a nearby town or to another country. Someone keeps a list of things in his head, someone writes on a leaflet, and someone uses the app on his mobile device. One of such applications is uPackingList. The new version is a merger of free and paid ones in a very handy app, with the ability to synchronize all data through devices, with an intelligent assistant and much more.
The Project Manager of uPackingList, Ivan Myronov, kindly agreed to answer a few questions related to the application development and plans for the future.
Hi, Ivan! Before we begin, please introduce yourself to the readers.
- Good day. I am a Project Manager of brand products at NIX Solutions. By good fortune, I work in a team of very talented developers, testers, designers, and analysts. Actually, thanks to them we have an occasion to talk today.
Please tell us what was the main reason for the creation of a new uPackingList? After all, the old version has been for over 5 years on the market and has gained a lot of users by this time...
- The market of IT products never stands still and evolves every day. What was a trend last month, could be absolutely irrelevant today. In order to keep pace with modern trends in the mobile application development world, you have to be extremely flexible. Why did we decide to create a new packlist? We saw that the old version was outdated, did not meet the guidelines and trends of UI / UX. Also, it became very difficult to support the code of the old version, so we decided to write an application from scratch.
What will happen to older versions? Will you stop supporting them? How will users transfer their old lists to a new application?
- Of course, we think about our users who have been with us since the first year of our company existence, and we have provided a process of synchronization/migration for them. If a person updates from the free version all lists will catch up in the new application when iCloud is activated in both devices. And a user of the paid version will be asked to import lists. In general, the process of migration in the paid version is one click longer. Free users don't need to do anything at all and users of the paid version only need to agree to import the lists)
Tell us about your team. How many people are involved in the development? Is any of them a big traveler?
- More than 10 people were involved in the development in total. All of us sometimes need to have a vacation and all of us have journeys. So, we do use our app to pack suitcases. Imagine you're going on a holiday with your wife and little child, and you have to think over everything and don’t have to forget to take anything. How will the child go without a favorite toy? No way. And all these lists should be stored somewhere. Our application is an indispensable tool for them. Also, in order to find limitations in our application, we start using it not only for travels but also for everyday tasks. My wife stores shopping lists in it, then she selects the necessary items and sends them to me. It can also be used for regular activities, like going to a gym or to a pool. Just look through the list before leaving to see if you have forgotten anything)
Did you face any problems during the development? How difficult was the path from the idea to realization?
- The path was very long. We had some idea, then reworked it and it repeated numerous times, because every implementation had its advantages and disadvantages. During that course, we gained some skills in UX and understood that some ideas wouldn't soar. We were trying to put ourselves in the place of our users. We considered our application not like guys who were developing it but like people whose problems it was directed to solve. And of course the feature of synchronization from older versions to new ones. It was really something. It is true that the last step is the most difficult. We rewrote the synchronization logic twice as the logic merged inside iCloud did not meet our quality requirements. After all, we didn't want to lose anything cherished for our users. In the end, we decided to merge lists on our side and take care of the users' data safety by ourselves.
Remembering the competitors, the closest ones to you are Packing Pro and PackPoint, which are also very popular. What are the advantages of your application compared to the competitors?
- Our application is very flexible. It is a tool, having which you can solve almost any problem that has things and a suitcase/bag/backpack. We do not restrict a user in a number of items and we do not restrict him in anything. Just take it and use it without any limits.
What are your plans for the future? How will you surprise your users?
- At the moment our team wants to get closer to our customers. In this regard, we have suspended the development of new features and now are making a feedback website, adding voting in the application according to which the future features will prioritize. Now we have come to the fact that no matter how hard we try, our desires do not always concur with the desires of our customers. Therefore, we have set a goal to understand our customers better and then solve their problems and requests more efficiently.
Now the app is free, but are there any plans for monetization in the future?
- Yes, monetization is planned, but now I can't say what we will monetize. I do not want to cut the functional for a user or to take away important features of the application. As for me, monetization should be nice and unobtrusive, a person should enjoy shopping and not suffer if he has not made this purchase.
Are there any projects except uPackingList that you're working on or do you have another idea?
- At the moment, we want to breathe a new life into our uBooks application. We also have two versions in Store now: paid and free; we would like to put them into the same freemium version. Now we have a ready design and the developers began their hard work. While looking at the design and expected behavior of the application, it seems to me that it will be a blast. We also have more ideas about other new products, but firstly we need to finish with what we already have and then expand new horizons.
Excellent! Thank you for your answers! Do you want to wish anything to readers?
- Travel, explore the world around you. Read books, learn about the worlds of other people)