When Mike approached us to build the new version of his storytelling platform, he explained that he had already produced a simple app which was gaining quite a bit of attention in the Apple app store. The app allowed users to record a personal story and send it to someone.
Based on that success, he wanted to build a new web platform where users could browse, watch, and share each other's stories.
Over the next year, we would develop his platform, moving from concept to a full-featured web app.
Mike's new platform would need to be a much more feature rich application than what he had already. He wanted to provide a more in-depth storytelling experience by allowing users to record their stories through a web app, combining voice, video, and images into a compelling multimedia presentation which could be shared on the platform and also through social media.
Based on Mike's needs, we identified what to focus on:
- Easy-to-use user interface
Because Mike was targeting an audience of senior citizens, the platform would need to be very easy to use. And since sharing was a key feature of the platform, the web app would need to make it easy to spread stories on social media.
- A way to record stories
Users needed to easily record and playback media-rich stories from within the web app.
- Discoverability of stories
Users needed to easily be able to find new and interesting stories to watch, and stay engaged with the platform.
- Scalable processing of large amounts of video, audio, and images
To create their stories, users would need to be able to upload media in a wide array of formats. The platform would need to process this media in the background and convert it into standard formats which would be compatible with a variety of web browsers, as well as iPhone and iPad devices.
- Responsive Single Page Application
The front-end was built as a Single Page Application, making it easy to build a highly interactive and responsive User Interface, since the page did not have to be reloaded between every user interaction.
This made the platform easy and intuitive to use, and helped those familiar with the iPad app feel at home on the web app.
- Custom story creation tool
We created a custom story creation tool, which prompts storytellers with questions about their life. Story creators can then respond by recording their voice, or uploading photos and videos. We also created a custom video player which would play back finished stories in sync with background music. Many external APIs were integrated to enable easy sharing of stories on Facebook, Twitter, and DropBox.
This made it easy for users to record stories, even if they weren't particularly tech savy.
- Algorithms to display popular stories
There was a need to display popular and trending stories on the front-page of the website, so we created simple algorithms for this task which would rank stories based on popularity, number of views, etc.
This made the front-page much more interesting for users, leading to greater engagement with the platform.
- Real-time notification system
We created a real-time notification system to let users know when new content was added to the platform. Users were notified by email and within the application.
This increased user participation immensely, and also increased returning traffic to the website.
- Integration with media processing service
Rather than process audio and video in-house, we determined it would be more cost-effective and easier to scale if we offloaded this task to a 3rd-party service. We developed a process to submit user-generated content to this service automatically, and then upload the processed media to our servers afterwards.
This eliminated the need to maintain video and audio processing servers, saving thousands of dollars a month.