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Smithsonian Channel

5 min read

Big Nerd Ranch delivered an app that incorporates best-in-class Android development and UX standards. We added new, unique features such as Chromecast integration and social sharing functionality, helping to improve content discoverability and increase content consumption.

Challenge

To bring the Smithsonian Channel’s existing Android app up to par with its award-winning, highly rated iOS apps, Potion, an interaction design and technology agency, approached Big Nerd Ranch about a partnership to redevelop the app from scratch.

 

Client Goals

  • Develop a best-in-class Android app experience allowing participants to engage with the Smithsonian Channel brand through better content discovery and consumption functionality. 
  • Build out Chromecast integration and include the ability to favorite, share and curate content within the app and via social media channels. 
  • Deliver content that users could easily find and navigate. 
  • Add Chromecast support for video playback. 
  • Add modern UX and UI featuring material design.

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Our Approach

Our design and development teams worked closely with Potion to deliver an app that adheres to Android best practices and delivered on the client’s needs by: 

  • Creating a custom “quick pick” feature that enhanced video discovery 
  • Leveraging third-party tools to develop at a smooth pace
  • Increasing engagement through design updates, additional features and improved performance 

Our team then went to work on additional capabilities including: 

  • Delivering a modern user experience that adheres to Android platform best practices and user expectations 
  • Developing splash screens, video loading, A-Z fast scrolling and featured playlists 
  • Creating interstitial animations to provide a transition between videos that ties back to the television experience.

 

The Results

The right information. The right way.

Piloting one of the most technologically advanced fighter jets in the world requires a lot – both physically and mentally. Pilots have to manage a significant amount of data, including flight paths, weather patterns, and mission-critical information. They then have to make vital decisions that could potentially impact their mission.

In the past, pilots have used a physical kneeboard, or Flight Bag, to store the stack of reference materials they need during flight. In the already tight space of the F/A-18 cockpit, the kneeboard takes up valuable space and requires a significant time investment whenever the pilot needs information. That’s assuming the information is upto-date as there is an inherent amount of latency in the data.

The Navy is currently experimenting with electronic flight bags and digitized kneeboard applications to lighten both the physical and mental load of dealing with a paper-based kneeboard. While there are many applications in the market that address a singular aspect of a kneeboard, they tend to only focus on the technical aspects of digitizing the kneeboard.

Few approach the challenge from a holistic nature and none consider the physical limitations and ergonomics that a pilot faces in trying to access the information in a variety of environments.

As we looked to provide a more comprehensive solution, we asked ourselves the following questions.

 

Solution

By working collaboratively with Potion and our Android and Design teams, Big Nerd Ranch delivered an app that incorporates best-in-class Android development and UX standards. We added new, unique features such as Chromecast integration and social sharing functionality, helping to improve content discoverability and increase content consumption. 

The app’s look and feel resonate with the Smithsonian Channel’s brand and ties to the iOS app while delivering the experience and look that Android users expect. 

  • App rating improved from 4.0 to 4.3 
  • Active devices increased 43% •

 The number of total downloads increased 29%

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Smithsonian Channel



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