I know. I know. Every time we release a new app, I say it’s our best to date. But this one is special because it came about from failure and rejection.
Since 2009, we’ve been building Flash Card and Self Test apps for John Wiley & Sons’ leading higher ed titles so students could review key terms and concepts anywhere. In all, we did about 20 apps. They all looked the same and behaved the same, but just contained different content. And that’s where we ran into trouble.
In January, we submitted two more apps for review and they were rejected. Not because of any scandalous reason, but because we had so many that were similar and Apple felt we were cluttering up the store. First reaction, my head almost exploded. An hour later, I kinda realized, they had a point. So, the next thing was, well, we either overcome this or get out of the Flash Card/Self Test app business. We went with the “overcome this” option.
After a quick huddle up, we looked at how other higher ed publishers were handling this, and couldn’t find a good example. Actually, we couldn’t find any example. So we looked for businesses with no relation to education and found a few that did “in app purchasing” really well. That was it – we’d build a container where students could buy and run the apps they needed. It would be a container of self study tools. We ended up calling it that Wiley Business Study Center, but during design and development, we just called it “the container app.” Like most other ideas, it started in a 99 cent spiral notebook. I know, it’s high tech and your mind is probably blown right now:
Of course, some of this never made it through to the final app, but a lot of it did. This was well before we decided to make it and all the apps inside “universal” so they’d look great on the iPhone or iPad.
We laid out the plan and Wiley accepted – and they were amazing through the process. Together we fleshed out the look, logic and behavior of the new container app. It was a lot of work. A lot of proofing. A LOT of proofing. And they were insanely patient. In a nutshell, here’s what we did:
- Built a new universal container app
- Recoded 14 existing apps so everything was the latest and greatest
- Reworked the images for the new high-res displays
- Created 6 NEW apps
- Made all 20 apps universal
- Added a new feature to ALL of the self test apps – “Review All Chapters”
So when I see this app available on the iTunes Store, I don’t see one app, but 21 separate apps that at times felt like 42 apps since testing on both iPhone and iPad.
Time to celebrate!