June 13, 2018

Advice on direction (iOS or Web)

I took this past year to learn swift, work on a business idea and spend more time with my family. Learning swift has been an item on my bucket list for some time.

Part of the motivation for starting a business was to have a revenue stream to make up for a change in employment. We are moving from a region with an abundance of tech opportunities to a region with little to none. Unfortunately, the business is no where ready to start earning revenue.

So I am going to look for either remote or freelance work, and treat the business as a side hustle.

I have about 20 years experience as a designer but am considering trying something different.

Which skill might people here at IdeaHackers find to be in the most in demand, front end web development (Design/HTML/CSS/JS) or iOS Dev (UI/jr level programming)? Both directions require an investment in time before I would be completely comfortable finding clients, but web far less so as it used to be apart of my job description years and years ago.

Many thanks.

  1. 3

    Hi Clark,

    Interesting evolution (not shift). I'm a UX Researcher and Interaction Designer as background and progressively moving to App/Webapp development.

    However, while I planned to learn development, I did this not through "traditionnal" development/coding framework but entering the no/low code movement. I'm now expert with bubble.is , wich lead me to a good undersanding of HTML/CSS/JS and now able to develop and implement web apps and hybrid apps for mobile. I launched my own freelance company ( ideable.co)

    You said "I have about 20 years experience as a designer but am considering trying something different.".

    I dont agree with you on that, as a designer/UXer, developing apps makes me realize that we have a serious competencies/advantage in thinking the dev always through the user point of view. Working on both sides how me how connected and interdependent those are..

    Working now with individuals and early stage startups who want to implement their MVPs and first version, my clients like that and I guess this is a key differenciator for my services.

    More widely, seeing how the no/low code is expanding and the possibilities offered, I have a tendency to think that developing/implementating an app (at least the most common app format) will become easier and accessible to everyone. The point will be (and it's nice for us), implementing an app doesn't mean that the idea/concept behind it will be a success...

    For all that, I really think that being a designer/design thinker that can also effectively implement apps could be very demanded in the near future!

    Be happy to follow the discussion if you want!


    1. 1

      Bubble looks fun. I agree that the future is bright for design, especially when coupled with an understanding of business and an appreciation of engineering.

      At one time I did a great deal of design freelancing but I'm not sure how well the design I've had these past few years would translate to remote work. I always like talking to product managers and designers face to face.

  2. 3

    As Pieter Levels said in IH podcast #43: you don't ask a painter what brush he/she used to create his/her masterpiece.

    If you're more comfortable with web tech, the fastest investment would be to dive into progressive web apps (PWA's) or hybrid apps using a framework like ionicframework.

    So even if having skillset X could mean you can create solutions for product type Y or Z (webtech to create apps for the iOS platform).

    If it is about getting income, i'd figure out what kind of job pays the most. Can build 2 iOS apps in the next few months and they bring you $8000 a pop ? Or could you do 5 websites for $4000 in the same amound of time?

    Use the tech that makes you comfortable and then search for what kind of products /platforms jobs are being posted to see how much overlap there is.

    I've been getting a lot of job offerings via LI (which I don't take) on mobile development but I bet there are a lot of webdev gigs out there, too!

    Hope this helps?

    1. 1

      Thanks. Very helpful.

      The problem I've had to date is that I'm so used to focusing on making interesting product that I tend to ignore the business. That can work with a bigger team, but when it's just me I've fear that what I have created or will create might be interesting to only me.

      1. 1

        I hear ya. I've made that very mistake with some side projects in the past.

        Nowadays I know better: before I even start building, start validating:

        • get yourself a Carrd.co account ($19/year) and build landing pages that explain the basics and see if people are into it.

        • talk to people on IH, twitter, and other communities and pitch your idea to see if they like it.

        • create a simple representation​ (wireframes, mockup using SaaS like InVision etc) and see if your idea adds value for people.

        Only then dive into the coding part and invest time to get the basics going.

        It will save your precious time and it will educate you on your idea and the market value at the same time.

  3. 2

    Personally, I think that having about 20 years experience as a designer could be a real advantage, should you choose Web or iOS development.

    For the latter, I'd recommend to check https://www.designcode.io. It has both interesting story behind (started by designer) as well as approach to teach iOS development .

    I've been following them since the very beginning, bought the first version of the book and I'm still finding it useful. I'm mostly struggling with UI side of things, which could be an easy one for you, given you experience in design.

    You'd probably might give it a try, to get a taste of iOS development in a short time and decide if it's well enough for you.

    1. 1

      I purchased design code 2 because I thought it might be interesting to go through an app recipe that resembled an app I was working on. I think some of it was interesting but wouldn't recommend it for learning to code. I think it's a great marketing example.

      I have been working in design for a long time, but haven't quite figured out how to leverage that in a remote context yet.

      1. 1

        Yes, definitely, I wouldn't recommend it for pure learning of how to code either.

        My point was that it could be a (possibly) good way to check how much your experience in design is transferable to iOS side, and just to try to feel if you are happy working on iOS development in general.

        But if you have already tried it, nevermind :).

        I'm a full-stack web dev myself, but doing iOS coding as a hobby.

        I'd say both areas could be profitable, but both are challenging enough as well.

        You might also try to check jobs on Upwork, most of them require more or less the same set of skills and might help to get a good understanding on requirements/budgets.

  4. 2

    Someone famous said: “if you dont know what to bet on - bet on web”:) (not exact quote)

  5. 2

    The universe of front-end web development is much larger and broader in scope. In terms of demand, it beats Swift/Objective-C any day.

    This 2018 developer survey from Stack Overflow will give you a good overview of how different technologies compare in terms of demand:


    That said, iOS development is a niche market and a lucrative one at that. You can command premium rates here.

    However, I'm not sure how much quality work you would be able to get as a junior freelance developer.

    Juniors require supervision and a mentoring environment to help them grow, and that doesn't go well with remote/freelance arrangements. Companies normally consider freelancers only if they've mastered their craft and can complete sizeable chunks of work without much oversight.

    1. 1


      "The universe of front-end web development is much larger and broader in scope. In terms of demand, it beats Swift/Objective-C any day."

      Thats what I was thinking. It might be easier to keep busy while I develop iOS apps on the side.