Sep 21, 2022 | Helping Mum Journey

Helping Mum. The Journey of making the app

Written by Daren David Taylor

As we talked about in our previous blog post, ‘Helping mum’, is a very personal app to me. It is an app that I am building for my mum. An amazing woman, who recently started struggling with dementia. The reason for this app is to help my mum and others like her. Those who struggle with technology and communication.

Simply put, this app is a communication app. However, it is the simplest communication app you will ever come across. This is because the main objective of the app is to assist the elderly and their families to communicate easily and effectively.


Designing an app for the elderly

All my career I have worked on apps for businesses. Whether that may be for start-ups or giants like Boohoo or Samsung. Never have I had to design and/or build an app for my mum. So, the challenge seems bigger than ever.

Below I have highlighted some key features that we had to take into consideration for the design.

  • A simple UX. The app needs to work extremely well but be simple. No complicated user journey or too many features.
  • A simple UI. We wanted the UI to reflect the app and it’s lack of features. Simple but effective.

Designing two apps.  

The way I want ‘Helping mum’ to work is for there to be two apps. One for me (on mobile) where I could send messages to her and to have more control over the app. The second app for her (on iPad), this app will only be able to receive messages and respond with a simple yes or no. 

Reasons for Simplicity.

  • I want it to be so simple that she won’t get confused.
  • I don’t want the app to replace communication. I want her to still call, to reach out. This app is just to improve communication, rather than to replace it.

 Below you can see the the mobile app that will be paired with the iPad.

Building an MVP.

Once the initial designs were done, it was time to move on to the MVP (minimal viable product). This stage was so important as we were able to test the app in-house. This process allowed us to optimise both the UX and the UI of the app.

Some of the key features of the optimisation were:

  • The side bar was removed as we reliased that it wasn’t necessary and our goal was to make the app as simple as possible.
  • We chose to only display one previous (old) message on the iPad as we realised that this might confuse the user.
  • We added an avatar creation feature for the iPhone app. This streamlined the set-up process, whilst still allowing the iPad user to see who was sending the message.

Here you can see the final version of Helping mum V1.

The Development

For the development of the app, I chose to use Flutter. Even though most of my career I have been building Native apps, I wanted the app to work on both Apple and Android, therefore, Flutter seemed like a no-brainer.

For more information on how Flutter works, check out this page.

I won’t go into too much detail here about the ins and outs of the development as that could take hundreds of hours. However, the key issues that we struggled with were:

  1. Pairing both devices – How can multiple family members or carers take care of an elderly relative/patient?
  2. How to send messages from one device to another (From iPhone to iPad).

My go-to solution for both was Firebase.

“Firebase is an app development platform that helps you build and grow apps and games users love. Backed by Google and trusted by millions of businesses around the world.”

Using Firebase, I could easily have both devices communicate with each other, and pairing them would be very straightforward. See the image below.


The next step was testing the app with the most important person, my mum. This was the final step before launching the app onto the app store.

In all honestly, I thought that there would be problems at this stage. Thinking that my mum would struggle with using the app and having to go back and solve a lot of issues. However, to my surprise, my mum was able to use the app easily and it was very straight forward.


Launching the app.

The first version of the app is now officially on the app store, and we couldn’t be more proud. We still need to add a couple more features and test it with a wider audience, but we are very excited to see where it goes.

About the Author

Daren is our Founder & CEO. He has over 20 years of experience in app development and is an expert in Flutter, iOS, and Android development. Also, he is a family man first but is also a big F1 and racing enthusiast.

Need help creating an app for your business?

Just drop us a line or book a free discovery call to chat about what you have in mind and how we can help you achieve it.

Need help creating an app for your business?

Just drop us a line or book a free discovery call to chat about what you have in mind and how we can help you achieve it.

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