When I first arrived in Japan as an exchange student we had a field trip to Asakusa, the oldest geisha district in Tokyo. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a trip to visit the oldest temple and go geisha spotting. We had a mission: to interview three people and ask them three questions.
Arriving in Asakusa you’re immediately taken back by the size of the giant lantern and the rush of people walking up and down the shopping arcade.
I had taken two years of Japanese by this point and had spent the past month staying at Yumi’s (my then girlfriend, now wife) house with her family where nobody besides her spoke any English. I was confident in my ability to complete the assignment in no time flat.
I walked up and down the arcade and towards Sensou-ji, looking for the right person to interrupt. Every time I thought I found the right person, I’d sheepishly decide that they weren’t the person to ask for one reason or another. Each time my confidence fell a little bit.
Finally, after 10 minutes of walking up and down the shopping arcade in front of Sensou-ji, I worked up all of my courage and blurted out my carefully crafted introduction sentence.
They looked back at me with a blank stare. “I’m sorry, I’m not Japanese, I’m Korean.” My confidence in my Japanese ability now felt like the plummeting stock market in October 1929.
A minor pep-talk later and I was back on the hunt. Instead of looking for someone nice, I decided to look for someone that was probably not a tourist and hopefully increase my chances of actually speaking in Japanese to a Japanese stranger.
Then I saw them — two construction workers walking hurriedly along the promenade. They must be Japanese, I thought. Without thinking I blurt out sumimasen (excuse me) and they stop and look right at me.
Rather than continue eloquently into my introduction my mind went blank and I started to panic. What have I done? I’ve stopped people and now I have to talk to them.
A deep breath and I read my sentence and to start the conversation. I was able to ask them about their cool pants (which sadly I didn’t get a photograph of) and explain that I was nervous because it was my first time speaking Japanese with strangers.
While I don’t remember my questions nor their answers, I do remember that once we started, the rest got a whole lot easier.
Starting a new app always gives me the same feeling I had that day in Asakusa. I have a grand vision of where I want to end up, but no idea on the first step to take. The blank screen gives me so many choices that I end up paralyzed.
Do I start with features? Maybe screens? Wireframes? A spec? Top-down or bottom-up?
All the tools that I’ve used to help me build software have never helped with this first step problem. They promise to help manage the app, but leave me to make the first move. I’m left walking up and down the promenade in Asakusa wondering what to do.
We started building kwoosh to improve our own development process and to help use with our product design. One way we’re doing this is by giving you that initial push.
Where possible we are removing the friction of first steps and making them for you. We pre-fill values for you with sensible defaults and grab data from around the web.
With these values pre-filled you never start with a blank state. The ball is already rolling, removing the tiny decisions that add unnecessary friction.