Guest Post: Chloe Lindeman
Have you ever wondered who—or what—is at the other end of an app? To be honest, three months ago I had thought very little about this kind of question. Like most people, I use apps every day, but I had never considered what goes into them. Interning with HelloChinese for the past couple of months, I’ve gotten a chance to see how it all works. And it’s not always what you’d expect!
The team here is pretty small. One of the surprises for me was that we work in a large room (an “incubator”) with somewhere between 50 and 100 people from various companies and start-ups. There’s not too much interaction between these groups, but there’s still a friendly atmosphere: if there’s a birthday, we’re always offered some of the cake.
Another surprise: afternoon naps! I know siestas are common in some Latin American countries, but I had no idea they were typical in China. Maybe half of the people in our incubator take naps after lunch, sleeping in their chairs with their heads on their desks. Some even keep pillows handy for a more comfy rest. It’s certainly well deserved, though—many are here till 10 or so at night, so they feel a nap is important to keep them going all afternoon and evening.
I used to think that once an app was released there couldn’t be that much to do. After, all of the work getting it made is done, right? Hah! We certainly keep busy around here. There’s always plenty to do adding content, fixing bugs, and responding to feedback. Most of the work I’ve done has been writing explanations about grammar and culture (this is easier for me since English is my native language), especially on topics you all have told us in your feedback still aren’t clear.
To do this, I had to understand why the app is structured the way it is. In fact, this may be something you, as a user, have wondered about as well. There are two basic rules: the app needs to be interesting, and the lessons need to be clear. Of course we want it to be interesting so that you have fun while using it. But clarity is especially important because, unlike in a Chinese class, you can’t just raise your hand and ask a question. So making things as logical as possible guides many of the decisions about structure.
For me, this has been a great place to intern. I learned so much about what it’s like to work at a start-up and got to know some great people, not to mention everything I learned about the language. I hope you have as much fun learning from HelloChinese as we do making it!