What is the first thing which comes to your mind when you hear the words beach, ocean, and summer, for our team it was fun and amusement. Another thing our team strongly believes in is Collaboration. And hence, we got to market research to find the blend of the two ideas and surprisingly found that there aren’t any applications that support community building and bring people together to collaborate and have summer fun by doing activities like playing volleyball, frisbee, and other water sports like jet skiing, etc. together, and hence, created our solution BeachMates.
💻 What it does
Our application provides three major functionalities which are as follows:
Live Events: The “Live Events” feature is the highlight feature of our app, this page on our application works like a posting wall where people can post about what activity are they currently doing at the beach with a brief description of the same and calls out for people who are interested to join the same activity. Users can click on our join button and even comment on the post to create a more inclusive and collaborative environment in the application.
Check Around: The “Check Around” feature sorts out the problem of tourists to find the best shops available around, it helps the user to look around and see what kind of activities are available around the beach. This page shows the user about the top-rated restaurants and lists the best places to rent surfboards and jet skis at the beach along with the listings of all the watersports available to reduce the hassle and give a stress-free experience to the user when they are at the beach.
Meet New People: The “Meet New People” page on our application increases the community bonding by multiple folds. This page allows the user to find and meet new people based on their interests: cuisines, love for dogs, and others. The user can choose to interact or not by swiping right or left respectively.
🚩How we built it
The ideation stage: After an intense brainstorming session, niche community builder apps - like Reddit, StackExchange- are a hit and passionate people are always looking to meet others of the same interests.
UI: An easy-to-use and all-inclusive UI was our main priority and with that in mind we selected a neutral color palette and a material design that went along with our theme - summer beach vibes. We designed the UI on Figma and spent hours refining the small details, but we still believe more potentialities are based on awaiting. The UI decisions were not easy and involved intense discussions.
The development stage: To ensure that the app was available on both android and ios (and inclusivity being an important principle for us) we believed that choosing to build a flutter app was an appropriate architectural decision as the technology is relatively new and well supported by the community. We chose Firebase’s Cloud Firestore as the database because it allowed us to work within the time frame while still maintaining the full feature-set functionality, it allowed rapid development to be done without the hassle of many dependency issues that one might face whilst taking the traditional server-database route. Blitz-developing was our main motivation and we also had an enthusiastic, development team which made this endeavor a reality.
🤼♂️ Challenges we ran into
During the ideation stage, choosing to build a community-builder/supporter rather than a solution that focused more on the problem of organized social distancing and still promoting fun was a difficult one, but we soon determined that it would be more along with the theme of the hackathon if we did something fun and spontaneous.
While developing the app we came across many problems such as configuring the firebase for smooth data retrieval. After solving the same the app development team was using cards for the first time and wasn't able to see all cards at once as it was not scrollable despite using the dart scroll view package. We researched this on stack overflow and official flutter documentation and then we were able to fix all these issues and managed to finalize our app within the provided time.
Bringing the whole team in line with the vision and vibe of the theme whilst maintaining an unbiased perspective, and promoting innovative ideas was a tumultuous task.
👏Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud to have built the live events feature into the app, that fetches data from the server and also allows the participants to create another event. This feature shows our inclination towards the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and effective communication, some key principles which we tried to incorporate while executing this project. Other than this feature, we are extremely proud of the video and website team who have put huge efforts into the making of this project.
📚What we learned
UI Team: We were able to further hone our design - decision-making skills by scouring through multiple dribble categories for inspiration and broadening our knowledge. We learned the importance of a consistent Color Palette and the design liberty that restricting to 4 primary colors brings to the table.
App Dev Team: We were successfully able to deploy full CRUD functionality into the flutter app, on short notice, this was our first time making something like the live events section, which certainly helped nurture confidence in development skills.
Web team: This was the first time making a product/ company portfolio type website, it was a humbling yet inspiring experience. I hope to venture much deeper into the vast ocean of web development and incorporate hard backend technologies into similar websites to revolutionize the web sphere.
Video Making Team: I learned how to make complicated 3D transitions in After Effects and realized the time and effort that goes into making plugins for video editors, it put the youtube editor’s hard work into perspective, my respect for animators has grown sincerely.
🤔What's next for BeachMates
We would like to add a robust and secure authentication system built from scratch and monitor user data to better re-design and develop our product when we introduce it to market or scale it for other similar niche communities.
We would also like to design an audio room feature for the community, so that beach lovers can talk about their latest beach trends and news right on our platform and don’t have to create a separate discord server.