Ribl is now live on Google Play!
If you have an Android phone, click the button above to download the public beta version of the app and help us continue to improve! If you’ve been participating in our alpha and private beta tests (thanks!), you can also click the button above from your phone to update your app for the latest and greatest.
(If you’re an iPhone user, click here to get on our testers list. iPhone app is coming soon!)
It’s been a fun ride to this point, and we’ve made a ton of decisions along the way. We’ve been working hard on our alpha and private beta versions of the app over the last few weeks and garnered some great feedback. We know the current version (public beta) isn’t perfect, but we’re putting it out into the wild to get the app in the hands of more users so we can continue to learn.
It’s amazing the kind of feedback that you get from real users and their outside perspectives. When you’ve been working on an app (or any project, for that matter) for months, you’re so engulfed in the little details of building features that sometimes it’s difficult to take a step back and see things from a different point of view. You may be so used to a certain environment that you just don’t realize what other people might see or do, as simple and obvious as it may seem.
That’s the importance of testing your product with and obtaining feedback from users. Here’s a subset of what we learned from our test riblers and the subsequent features we’ve implemented.
Not everyone has location turned on by default on their phones
Ribl is a location-based message board, so having location detection active on your phone is important for the app to function correctly. The members of the ribl team typically have our location services turned on, so this was never really an issue for us as it was for our test riblers. It goes to show how important it is to test your app with real users!
If location detection isn’t already turned on upon launching the app, this is what you’ll see:
That is not a good user experience.
So we implemented a pop-up prompt that notifies you that your location settings need to be changed for the app to work best. And with the upcoming update to Google Play Services, you’ll soon be able to turn on location detection right from the app instead of having the app send you to your Settings app to alter your location settings. Pretty sweet.
We know there may be many of you who want to leave your phone’s location settings off, so we’ll continue to build features to ensure you can still use the app to access content. For instance, we’ll include search fields where you can input the city from where you would like to view stories, so you won’t have to depend on your phone’s location detection to do so. There are plenty of other features in the pipeline to deal with this issue and we hope we can create a great user experience for those who don’t want location tracking to be constantly on.
There were no triggers to bring you back to the app
There were riblers posting stories. And there were other riblers who were commenting on these stories. But there wasn’t anything letting anyone know that someone commented on the stories they posted.
So we implemented push notifications to:
- Alert users who posted a story that someone commented on it.
- Deliver an alert to users who commented on a story when another user commented on the same story.
Conversations were happening on the app already but users just didn’t know it. These push notifications should increase engagement by providing a trigger for users to come back to the app whenever they’ve been engaged in a dialogue by another user.
Make it as easy as possible to create a story
Stories that contain local content are the lifeblood of ribl; without them, the app would be absolutely useless. Thus the creation of a story in the app should be as easy as possible and we’ve made changes to ensure this.
In our alpha and private beta versions, when you tap the “Create story” button, you would see this screen:
What’s missing from this picture? A keyboard! DUH! In this version, in order to start typing, you have to tap on the “What’s happening around you?” field for the keyboard to pop up. In our latest version, the keyboard arises on this screen immediately, which takes away one extra step to create a story.
The next issue that we fixed was text wrapping when creating a story. If you were a creating a story that had more than about 45 characters of text including spaces, your words would run off the screen on the left side, as such:This was pretty annoying and we heard our testers loud and clear, so we fixed the text box so that the text wrapped to multiple lines if it was too long. This makes it easier on you to ensure what you’re typing is correct without having to scroll left and right over and over again.
We’ve learned plenty from our user testing and we’ll continue to learn a lot more now that we’ve launched our public beta version. We hope you’ll help us along the way.
If you’re an Android user, you can become a ribler by downloading the app here and sharing and discovering what’s happening around you. If you’re an iPhone user, please join our testers group by filling out this form.
And as always, we’d love to hear what you think about our journey so far in the comments.