Meet the app developer of Zomato

  • Rozelle Laha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 29, 2016 18:48 IST
Gunjan Patidar, chief technology officer at Zomato, who is a textile technology graduate from Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi busts the myth that only computer science graduates can become app developers. (Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times)

Although Gunjan Patidar started programming only during his college days, building things from scratch gripped his imagination right from school days. Friends would find him tinkering around with things at home as a child, often opening up his grandfather’s old radio transistor, only to try and piece it back together again.

Developing an app is nothing but lines of code put together to create something where there was nothing before. “In a sense, code allows you to build any website or app, and then get it to do what you want it to do. The beauty of code is that an entire product can be built by a single person, or even by a large team working on smaller modules of that same product,” says Patidar now the chief technology officer at Zomato.

A graduate in textile technology from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, Patidar breaks one myth for sure – that you need not be a computer engineer to be able to create apps. All you need is a passion for coding. “I always wanted to be an engineer and with my IIT JEE score the only discipline available to me at IIT Delhi was textile technology. While in college, I developed a nose for coding,” says Patidar, who was introduced to Zomato, which was founded by IIT Delhi alumni, by his batchmates in college.

About the perfect app, Patidar, who spent his weekends at college coding for Zomato’s applications, says, “The best-designed programmes often have the simplest designs and the fewest, cleanest lines of code.”

Currently, the 29-year-old is involved in helping the various teams at Zomato to build products that would enable users to discover the best places to eat around them, order food delivery online, reserve a table on the go, get a restaurant’s information, or book a cab to the restaurant at the click of an app.

“The best-designed programmes often have the simplest designs and the fewest, cleanest lines of code,” says Gunjan Patidar, chief technology officer at Zomato. (Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times)

“I am very passionate about coding and manage to find time to code on these projects and most projects keep getting my code pushes intermittently. This also helps me stay updated on the latest stuff on every platform,” says Patidar.

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What exactly is it that app developer do? They need to understand the requirements to be addressed by an app and put together codes to create an app that can help address the needs accordingly.

While it is not necessary for an app developer to think of how to increase engagement with the product, the best developers also have a very good product sense in addition to strong technical skills. They always think from the user’s perspective, of how a user would use or interact with the app, why a user uses a product and what the value proposition for a product is to them.

“You should make an effort to understand user behaviour on your product. At times you have to think of what the user might need before they know that’s what they want, in order to stay ahead of the curve,” Patidar says.

The biggest challenge app developers face is that the landscape is very dynamic and keeps evolving. They need to constantly update themselves to stay ahead of the curve.

About staying clued in on what’s happening in his world of innovations on apps, Patidar says, “You have to be aware of the current technologies being used across platforms. You should read about the other consumer or enterprise (based

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on relevance to what you are working on), the products out there, and understand which products in that segment are doing well. You have to also understand how you can use that information in the context of the product you are working on/ building.”

Apps are undoubtedly a great way to help people get access to information on-the-go. They are definitely stickier than the web. Given the nature of constantly used mobile devices, apps can deliver a more relevant and personalised experience to users based on their location and other preferences, Patidar adds.

As mobile phones have become the first device for users to look up information on anything – news stories, songs, restaurants, movie shows, parties in the city and so on, app developers are constantly on their toes to improve the search experience and ensure they get apt information, quickly. App developers can tell how a change in the font size or a button can influence how users interact with the product. The most exciting part about being an app developer is that you are directly contributing to finding solutions. To hone skills, keep coding constantly in your free time.

Skills and traits

1. Creativity

2. Observation skills

3. Strong technical skills

4. Very good product sense

5. Ability to think from the user’s perspective, of how a user would use or interact with the app

6. Good product sense

App development as a career option (HT Photo)

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