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Poll: Why are you building a web app? (Research for my book)
34 points by spxdcz on Feb 12, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments
Fellow HN'ers! I'm currently finishing up a book on web apps (http://fivesimplesteps.com/books/designing-web-app-success), and would very much like to start it off with a little introduction about the varied reasons why people create apps. If you'd be so kind, please help me out with the poll below - thanks so much!<p>Why are you building a web app? (The primary reason)
Hobby / To scratch an itch (explore a subject of interest)
360 points
For financial reasons (security/comfort/riches!)
334 points
To change / improve the world
169 points
For recognition
95 points
For educational purposes
95 points
It's just my job / part of my job
69 points
Other (please comment below)
12 points



A word of caution: the results of this poll are meaningless. Yes, you may kick off an interesting discussion, but beware of statistics collected in this way. For example, you have no control over how long the question stays up on this page. Chances are you will not get any people who only read HN on weekdays (maybe because they spend their time building awesome web apps all weekend and don't want to be distracted). This introduces bias. You also have no control over randomizing the possible answers, so there may be another kind of bias. Basically, you have no guarantees that the people that upvoted individual answers here (a) actually build web apps, (b) are being honest (c) are in any way representative of the industry or any part of the industry, or even of HN. I would look more towards the comments instead for inspirational quotes, etc.


I think he's looking for qualitative, and not quantitative, data. Saying "a good number of people build webapps for reason X" from the results of this survey is okay, saying "Y% of people build webapps for reason X" is not.


Exactly this; I'm thankful for the warning about biases, but this poll won't be used to impart any real advice - it's more about setting the scene with some anecdotal evidence; i.e. the fact that people have voted in some numbers for a variety of the options is interesting in itself.


It is also an easy way to earn karma.


I Believed the hype. Thought I could quit my job, and have my web app be my sole source of income. Boy was I wrong. After 4 failed web app, I'm still trying to design one that will make me a sustainable income.

Don't believe the hype. It's a lot easier to get funding, than to make a web app financially sustainable. Don't quit your day job. Program during your free time.


Agree. I know some people who think that the profits will come after they'll get funded; my guess this is one of the reasons so many fail.

I wish I could up-vote your comment since I find it insightful, but it looks like I don't have enough karma to do so. :)


That can't be right - you don't need any karma to upvote. If you think you can't upvote, there's another reason.


It isn't a Field of Dreams, you're right. You also have to market, advertise and sell, sell, sell.


Because I have a need and there is nothing out there to fill that need, so i am making it.

Plus, I'm old and bored of working for other people and I have 0% chance of buying that Lamborghini making $100K/y with a family and kids.

My mid-life crisis is approaching soon so I need to get prepared. :)


It's a little bit of everything.

It would be nice to earn a living doing what you love while avoiding a typical 9-5 job. (I'm no where near that yet).


Yeah this- 1. It's an app I wish existed - I want to use it 2. There's a small chance I'll get rich 3. Worst case scenario I'm learning a lot 4. It gives me something to care about - "hope" that I can one day work for myself. And we all need hope.


That's a very good point - I should have maybe added "Freedom" as an option (not necessarily 'financial' freedom, but more flexibility in lifestyle).


I'm tired of working for others. What I'm doing is meaningless and unexciting. When I look around at other development jobs, they look like more of the same. The more interesting jobs appear to require several years of experience with skills I don't have.

I'd like to spend more time learning new things, and I get very little of that in my current 40+ hour week job. If I'm lucky, I learn some obscure tidbit at work about once a month. I study on my own time, but progress is slow.

It looks like developing web apps is a good solution, although not the only one. It leverages some of my existing skills. I find the work enjoyable, provided I'm not doing it to excess. And if I'm working for myself, and want to take time off to learn some new skill, I can just do it and not be worried that my manager is breathing down my neck for being "unproductive" for 4 hours.

If I can create multiple small streams of income, I will finally be able to cut down on the amount of time I spend working, and put more time into all the other things I enjoy.

I haven't had any luck yet, but I'm working on it.


Models and Bottles


I do it for my day job (and my last few day jobs).

I have built a few of my own, but nothing with the intent of making money. The real impediment for me is not the technical side (I can do that myself, and I know enough people in the business to help with gaps in my knowledge) it's more coming up with good ideas.

Ideas are cheap, but really good ideas - the ones that make you think "why the hell didn't I think of that" - that light you on fire and push you to do 24 hour non-stop coding sprints because you just want to see them work - are few and far between, and much harder to come up with (at least for myself) than people realize.


I am a student and I write webapps to learn writing webapps. Imho university fails or even does not even intend to learn real-life web app development: i.e. I haven't heard a thing about automated unit testing, CI or security issues in my E-commerce programming course (sadpanda). On the other hand I have no public portfolio to show to my prospective employer once I finish my MSc. In my previous workplace I used to build internal web apps and there is nothing visible on public (I could show src code, but it can be illegal i suppose). Therefore I want to have portfolio and build web apps.


The integration of web/mobile/life is rapidly accelerating and there are many new apps to be constructed and countless other extensible options to explore. My reasons are a combination of the first three options listed in the poll. My goal is to engage in a personal entrepreneurial mission; a challenge to my personal ambition to become independently successful. More easily stated, I want to be part of the web apps community, a la Dropbox and other startups.


Currently, to scratch an itch I have and hoping others also have said itch. Also to add stuff to my portfolio which I let stagnate for four years.

Hopefully when I’ve accomplished those goals enough I can create web apps that have a more profound on people’s lives without caring as much that is solves a problem I have (but still enough that I can dogfood my own product).


Well I do build web applications for my job (financial/job), and I also very much enjoy doing this (hobby/itch), so that essentially qualifies me for several options. I'm not ambitious enough to think I can get rich quick from building web applications, but it is basically for financial gain, since I do get paid for the work I do.


Web app is the way of the future, rapid deployment is much more fun and effective than developing desktop software


It seems to me the right answer is you build a web app because it solves the problem. The problem may be to promote yourself or it's part of your job - but I hope the answer isn't to build a web app when a web page (or desktop app, etc) would suffice.

Your book looks good BTW. I'd be curious to read it.


I wouldn't code if I don't like programming. I wouldn't market my product if I don't like to make money.


I'm building one to generate interest in myself as an employee. Like an item in a portfolio basically. I want to be able to get a job that I want when I get out of college.

I'm also building it to learn. I think you learn more by doing than just reading so I couple my reading with doing.


It's difficult to really expect people not to vote on the making money option, but at the end it's a mix of everything: recognition, making money (not being a millionaire maybe but just some good stability), to learn (educational purposes), if possible change the world.


I think it's usually a combination of things. This question is like asking "Why do you eat?" ... because you're hungry? because you can? because food tastes good? because you get energy? ... all of the above, but sometimes one more than the other.


To avoid the burnout which seems to follow only working on other peoples' stuff for money.


Because I couldn't not do it. It's like why you get married in a lot of respects.

I was so compelled by the opportunity and the unique position I was in that I couldn't not build MyJibe. It would be like defying deity.


To help myself with some problems, that might be useful to others as well. In the process learn a framework and updated my programming skills.


For fun and profit, to disrupt the industry I am in, and to improve my skills. So pretty much all the reasons in your poll.


Scratching the itch. Definitely. Im a student so I have all the time in the world and money is not too important to me.


Ease of Distribution

Whether its for internal coprorate site or the public. If you want people to use it, it has to be a web app.


I'm building a web app because it doesn't exist yet and I want it to exist.


Both to scratch an itch, and the hope for financial gain.


Programming is fun! Why else would I be here?


To change / improve the world




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