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An educational app for parents

We worked with, a non-profit aiming to give parents school information and improve opportunities for their kids' education.



August–Sept 2012 (about 8 weeks)

What we did

The goal of this project was to produce a proof of concept. We built a mobile app that provides parents of grade school kids with tips to assess and improve their kids' learning skills.

As a proof of concept, it was important for us to help the client release the app in a way that would let them glean insights from the product so they could do something more involved with it later.


How we did it


The product we built was an experience delivered through a mobile-optimized website and SMS campaign. We used an agile sprint cycle over roughly eight weeks to build this out. It involved integrating with a number of existing services and platforms:

The app was built on Rails, which we connected with the Twilio API for the SMS campaign. We worked wtih ExactTarget for the email campaign and Delve for our video streaming platform. Finally, we used Omniture to help the client track the metrics they needed in order to apply this app to larger products.

What we learned

It’s important to start working on user-facing / UI pieces of an application, even if there are gaps in the story and questions about how it'll work.

While building this app, we followed an agile principle. In this case, that meant acting on what you know, and nailing down the back-end portion of the app while decisions about the front-end were still in progress.

It helps to have an idea of what you want to report on when you start building reporting functions. In some ways, this runs counter to agile principles: you want to figure out what information you'll need to know before you start in order to track events properly. We needed to find a balance between these two concepts for this project. Eventually, we found that where collecting metrics is concerned, the key is to start with the report you'll want to see later and work backward to determine what information you'll need to track.

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