Ninth Division tells the story behind its latest Big Omaha app
About the Author: Andy Peters is the founder of Ninth Division, the Omaha-based app development company that has created Big Omaha apps since 2009. For more on Peters and the apps, see the note following this post.
Ninth Division built the Big Omaha app for tablet-wielding Big Omaha attendees like Corey Spitzer (above).
Why build an App for #BigOmaha?
- A lot of people use it as their program.
- SPN Trusts us. (Like Oxide Design Co.)
- We like putting what we learn year over year to a test.
We have done the app for four years now. We love doing it, and it proves a good challenge to our skills year over year. This year, the conference had a completely artistic (in my view) approach to the branding. It was important to us that not only did the app look and feel like art message branding of the conference, but also that the app felt like art itself. So every bit of text and every image was like it was drawn on the screen. This let us into the most important feature: the drawing portion of the app.
Challenge: Design, build and test the most unique iPhone and iPad app in seven days and then port it to Android in less than five days. Also, make it interactive, fun and true to the branding. GO!
… challenge accepted. With some improved planning techniques, we could have more time to build this app. We had tons of ideas on what we were going to do with the app. Besides the core features of schedule and speakers, we wanted something else that was just fun. I ran them by Joe of Oxide, and he was in love with the idea of allowing people to draw on a whiteboard or a picture. That's how we landed on the feature.
The App (Android and iOS)
To keep a heavily interactive feel to the app, we knew we had to do some very challenging and unconventional UX/UI design rules. You'll see that the app is intended to be very gesture based, to simulate drawing on that whiteboard. We wanted to be (mostly) buttonless to maintain that feel of drawing with your finger. We came up with the menu that is much different from the conventional tabs at the bottom approach.
We were able to make the Android and iOS version both have the same features and almost the same experience. Some basic changes needed to be made to the Android app when we ported it, as some things didn't make sense on that platform in comparison to the iOS platform. The only major difference between the two is the menu will stay on when you tap and hold on Android, where it will disappear when you lift your thumb on iOS devices.
Of course the most exciting addition is the drawing (what we are calling Scribble). You can draw on a white background or over a picture. We are really excited to see how people use the drawing. I've already seen a good sample of nice drawings or doodles on Twitter. When you are in the scribble section, tap and hold for more options. On iOS, you can share on Twitter or save to your Camera Roll. With Android you have a few more sharing features, thanks to the Android platform for having those build it. Follow #GiantCow or #BigOmaha on Twitter for photos.
As you use the app I hope you find all of little easter eggs scattered throughout the app. Either in what you swipe, what you tap, or in something you read … there are some fun surprises in store. This app is easily one of the most unique apps we've done. It's different than many event apps you ever run across. So far the response has been positive on the experience. We can't wait to see more doodles/drawings/sketches too.
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