PMO India mobile app

My experience with the PMO app dev contest

The PMO app development contest was organised by Google and MyGov, the Indian government’s citizen partnership platform.

The aim of the contest was to crowdsource an app for the the Prime Minister’s Office. In the first phase, the public was invited to submit ideas for features the app should have. Over 30,000 ideas were received and the best ones were selected to be included in the app.

Wireframe Phase

In the second phase of the competition, participants were given a list of features, and were asked to design wireframes for how the app should be designed — keeping in mind Google’s material design guidelines.

Google organised a design sprint in New Delhi to explain the design process. This is where we met for the first time and formed our team.

Out of about 300 entries received from all over India this round, the top 10 designs were selected, and two members from the selected teams were invited to the MyGov office in New Delhi to present their wireframes to a jury.

The teams who made it to the top 10 were then informed about certain technical challenges about the scale of the app, and the challenges of designing an app that had to be accessible for every Indian citizen. The teams had to come up with solutions for all the given problems, and explain their answers to another panel that judged each team on their technical abilities.

Making the app

5 teams were selected out of the top 10 to work with Google design and engineering mentors to build a functional app. Ours was the youngest team to make it to this point — at 19, I was the oldest member of the team.

Celebratory Team Sanskrit meeting for making it to the top 5. As you can see, we were very mature about the whole thing.

Over the next two months, we built a working app and worked with NIC, the Prime Minister’s Office, MyGov and Google to get it in the best shape possible. Our aim was to keep our app as simple to use as possible, and as useful as possible to each citizen.

Some of the accessibility features of the app.
We also wanted the app to look friendly and approachable to the users, and tried using bright colors and illustrations for the user onboarding.

Final results

After security and load testing, and a design review by Google’s design team, our app was judged to be the best. During our discussions with MyGov, we had made a number of suggestions that hadn’t been feasible at the time due to time and technical constraints. Since we had now won the contest, we had time to work on polishing the app before release.

We spent the next few months working closely with the government to improve the app and implement new features. This often involved working with their backend teams to create new APIs and changes in their systems. It took time, and taught us a lot about working at the scale the government does — each decision had to be looked at from a security and scalibility standpoint, and often things were a lot more complicated than we initially thought.

App launch

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, and Team Sanskrit.

After over a year in the design and development phase, the app was launched by the Prime Minister at a townhall address he gave on 6 August 2016.

A tweet from the Prime Minister about the app launch.

Mountain View

As winning team, we got a tour of Google’s Mountain View headquarters in California. After all the hard work we did, it was a pretty great way to end things.

From left to right : Prajwal, Preet, Raghav, Naman, Vineeta Dixit from Google’s policy team, me and Pranav. AND A DINOSAUR SKELETON.

Hi, my name is Gyan and I solve problems with design and technology. If you’d like to get in touch, send me an email at hello@gyanl.com or tweet to me @gyanl.