Rising to a design challenge

At Kindoma, we create apps for kids that connect families when they are apart. When tackling design for our first product, the iPad seemed like the perfect device. The tablet’s large screen is ideal for little fingers, it has a forward facing camera that allows for video-chat, and ownership amongst young families is on the rise. Storytime for the iPad was born. Since launching last March at Bologna Bookfair, our focus has been on developing the concept. Do families want to read together from afar? The good news is that they do. With no marketing budget, we've had almost 50K downloads, and thanks to our recent holiday feature in the App Store (thank you, Apple!) downloads are now averaging about 1k/day. What we are most proud of, however, is the engagement. Calls on our system are averaging about 20 minutes; much longer than a young child will typically engage in traditional call or video-chat. Proof of concept - check!

But in the last month or so, we have shifted focus. The word concept became less important, as the word impact started to bubble to the top. We were accepted into the Points of Light accelerator – a social impact incubator that supports seed stage social ventures that solve pressing social issues by engaging people. They have been pushing us on what defines social impact, and maximizing the number of families reached has to be part of that. Furthermore, as we actively seek our first round of funding, investors are stressing the need to maximize market size.

Ownership Zero to Eight
Ownership Zero to Eight

According to Common Sense Media’s most recent report, 40% of children have access to a tablet, but when you add smartphones to the mix access increases to 75%. Furthermore, when it comes to reaching the kids most in need, over half of lower-income families have access to smartphones (51%), while tablet ownership is just 20% among the same group. Considering the Kindoma experience requires not one but two devices, it became clear that we needed to expand Storytime to the iPhone.

I’ve often advocated that you can’t design for a large screen and then put it on a phone and expect it to work, and for no product is this truer than ours. How do you combine two video-chat windows, two shadow-hands, and a children’s book on one small screen? You don’t.

We removed one video-chat window (the user can’t see herself), made the other one small and moveable, and hid the menu. We designed it under the hypothesis that in two-device families, the child will be on the larger screen, but we needed to be cognizant that many children will be using the iPhone version as well. Admittedly, it works better with some books than others, but after much iteration and testing, Kindoma Storytime for the iPhone is live!

iPhone
iPhone

We are excited to finally have an iPhone version of Storytime. It was a design challenge to make it work on a smaller screen, but was imperative in fulfilling our mission of connecting families who live apart. We rose to the challenge, and are pleased with the result.

That being said, the beauty of this market is that we can quickly respond to feedback, and we would really and truly value yours. Please take the time to download Storytime, and share your thoughts. We welcome your feedback. Happy reading!