What was YoTeacher
YoTeacher was a platform to provide graphical resources to help pre-school teachers. We were two developers working on this project. The postulate was that pre-school teachers had difficulties finding good and qualitative resources for their daily lessons. By creating those resources, we ensure to keep good graphical quality, with a coherent design across different activities without a weird watermark.
We tried to find different subjects that match the national french education guidelines and make activities around those subjects.
What went wrong
A few things went wrong with this project in my opinion.
Insufficient knowledge on the subject
For me, one of the hardest things, whenever I worked on this project, was my lack of knowledge of the educational scope. I'm not a pre-school teacher, I don't know any pre-school teachers so it's quite counter-intuitive to make a whole project around something you don't know.
I tried hard to learn a few things, I read the whole french education guideline to learn more about what was expected from pre-school teachers, what kids should be learning at their age, and how to teach them these things in an intuitive manner. The more I was reading, the less I felt confident and capable due to the huge gap I was facing.
Lack of time to make activities
The second biggest issue was time. It's a common issue for most of the things we don't accomplish but here it wasn't exactly the "lack" of time. I could most of the time spare some time to work on the activities. The problem was how hard and time-consuming it felt to make a single resource.
To make a single activity I had to:
- Find the subject I'll work on and redact something about that subject
- Create any illustrations to match the subject to incorporate in the document. Just to remind you that I'm a dev, not an illustrator.
- Export everything and create a single PDF file containing all the pages
- Create social media images and custom images to publish on the website along with the document itself.
All these steps were very long, it would take me approximately 1 hour to make a single one. At some point, I made a Figma plugin to automatize a few things but it wasn't enough and most of the things I needed to do could not be automatized.
To gain time in the making of the activities, we tried to ask freelancers on Fiverr to make some illustrations. The results were not as good as expected. For me, it was the first time I asked freelancers to make creative work. I had to learn to ask exactly what I had in mind. In the end, I found 2 creative freelances that did a good job but that's where I felt I was doing all of this, and investing money to pay them for nothing.
Lack of investment
We were two developers to work on this project. A front-end dev (me) and a back-end dev. On the technical side, it was great. We made a platform quite easily and very quickly with Symfony and NuxtJS to host the activities. That's the big advantage of having a front and back-end dev.
On the operational side, it was not the same. I felt a lack of investment due to a lack of time from the other party. The lack of time explains itself as it's a newborn father. I understand this totally as two persons have different time uses. That's where the divergence of objectives occurs.
At the beginning of the project, I wanted to fully invest my time on it to make it work. I even set an end date for this project. For 3 months, we were supposed to make the project and see if it appeals to people. If we see if it didn't work, we should just stop as it's unnecessary to continue for nothing by emotionally get attached to the thing.
As I invest most of my time on the project and seeing it wasn't reciprocal, it didn't feel fair. That's what I mean by objective divergence because on one side I wanted to make a business out of it, and on the other party, it felt just like a side project.
What I've learned
Have the same objectives
When you start a project that's meant to become a business with someone, I think it's important to make sure we're on the same page and same pace. I think it should be clear from the beginning what the different parties are in charge of, and be sure the time spent on it is reciprocal.
Careful about content-based projects
One big thing I learned about this project is clearly to beware of content-based projects. To make the project work, if it needs content that needs to be made. I think you need to know your subject on your fingers. Even more, I think you need to be passionate about the subject to be able to create content around it otherwise you would lose so much time.
Another thing is that you cannot rely on freelance to make content for you. At least, not at the beginning of the project when you're not even sure about the project.
Before starting the project, we needed to interview some pre-school teachers to understand what they needed exactly. Without that, we assumed they needed activities solely based on a single point of view. I made some interviews through a questionnaire afterward and I had interesting feedbacks but I think it was too late.
Looking back on it, this project could have potential if it was taken seriously from the beginning by framing it a little bit better. I've learned a lot by working on this. For my future projects, I know what I need to do and what I should avoid.