Facebook is an intrinsic part of our daily routine, and it has been since 2004. As of the time of writing this article, it’s on version 62.0 (and counting), ever-changing and constantly adapting to present days, yet always prepared for the days to come.
With this in mind, it was impossible for us to turn down an opportunity to share our most recent work with the #FacebookDesignCrit team, and get their honest and constructive feedback on what we have achieved so far, and on what we can improve on, moving forward.
Here at Significa, we have been working side by side with our partners at Woschlab to develop Snipsl, and we are proud to say that it’s now available to download on Play Store, and soon to be released on the App Store.
But what exactly is Snipsl?
Think of it as barrier breaker between authors and readers, where the first can publish directly into reader’s pocket. With the middleman out of the way, the app needed to be intuitive for both the author and the reader alike, allowing for constant interaction between the two, as the reader’s opinion can influence the outcome of a story.
As the author releases a Snipsl (story segments) at a time, you, the reader, can shape the outcome of the story by voting on story driven polls and share your thoughts on the latest chapter, by commenting directly to the author. Snipsl, the app, gives you an online platform for you to browse your favourite books and authors, plus a personal library where you can find all the books you have subscribed to.
Making it work
The user, a reader in this context, should easily find new content to read, seamlessly get involved in a good book, effortlessly interact with the author, and then organize all of his favourite books into a structured personal library. As this can happen in any random order, the app’s flow has to be instinctive, almost automatic, so the user can focus on the core purpose of the app: reading.
As the most important section of the app, the reading experience needed to be flawless: a smooth experience that takes nothing away from you enjoying the story. With zero distractions, the user can customize it to match his reading preferences. He can change font size, screen’s luminosity, opt for a non serif font and, most important of all, change the viewing mode from light to dark.
Ideally, but not yet anyways.
This is because the version we launched is an MVP version that only gives you the option to increase/decrease the font size. If you don’t know what it means, MVP stands for minimum viable product, meaning you are only developing what’s essential. This will save you time and money, allowing you to validate if the product is, in fact, viable. If successful, then you’ll start working on those extra features, one by one, as you keep on improving the overall experience.
IOS vs Android
The biggest challenge was creating an app that remained true to itself while respecting the guidelines of two very distinct platforms: IOS and Android. When you look side by side, the difference between the two versions is considerable, but it’s when you look in detail that you can fully understand the reasons for these visual and structural differences.
As we designed Snipsl, we started with the Android version, taking full advantage of Google’s Material Design. Here’s what’s specific to the Android platform:
- Choosing Roboto as the main font;
- Using all the icons with a 2 pixel stroke;
- Adopting the use of a FAB (Floating Action Button) for main tasks in the workflow;
- Using strong shadows on graphic elements to determine a layered effect;
When designing Snipsl for IOS, some options were also instantly automatic as part of Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines:
- Add a back button to navigate;
- Have a constant app bar;
- Use IOS native San Francisco typeface;
- Make the shadows more subtle and uniform;
- Use 1px stroke icons;
With different approaches, the same features had to work with flawless consistency in both platforms. As the skeleton is the same, you get two very different results that achieve very similar results.
Used primarily as part of the on-boarding experience, the illustrations set the mood for the entire app. With a friendly, simple, yet clear message, the user can fully understand’s Snipsl’s strongest features. As the app aims to bring authors and their faithful readers together, we set out to create a friendly and colourful set of characters that could visually represent the nature of the app.
To develop each of these character we had to go though multiple permutations of wardrobe, body style and color to transmit the ideal personality to each of our individual characters.
There have been two very distinct set of icons designed for Snipsl. The first, a more standard set of line icons, has the sole purpose of triggering actions that help with all of the app’s navigation.
The second, is a set of illustrations that were created to represent each type of book genre in the search filter of the Discovery Section of the app. As the app supports 27 different genres, the greatest challenge was creating a homogenous family of iconographic illustrative elements that allowed for immediate association of each genre. Some of them are straight references to the genre, while others represent specific elements of classic novels that became iconic in our contemporary society.
Creating the Snipsl Brand
When creating a brand specifically for an app, you aim to create a visual iconic element whose sole purpose is to stand out with millions of other app icons in the various stores. With this in mind, we also wanted to create a brand that was true to Snipsl’s own identity. That is why we designed an icon that visually represented Snipsl’s main feature: the reader’s voice and opinion to help shape a story as it’s being simultaneously created by the author.
So what now?
The idea with a MVP version is that you reduce the number of features but also limit the target group. As of now, Snipsl was launched in Germany with a limited number of book genres available. With such a controlled release, it’s still early days to understand how successful it will become. As we deeply believe in the product, we would be forever grateful to get any feedback on what we can do next.
For that, we believe there is no one better than you. After all, you have done it 61 times.