A Freakin’ Awesome Event App, Freakin’ Fast

June 28, 2013 Posted by Peter O'Blenis - No Comments

What if someone asked you to build them an unforgettable cross-platform mobile solution featuring a beautiful, one-of-a-kind, user experience, real-time notifications, social media integration and an industrial-strength back-end content distribution system?  What if they asked you to do it in 8 weeks…as a charitable donation?

Well, we were asked. And we said yes.

The event (and why we said yes)

RtR LogoRace the Runway is a festival event held annually at a local airport. It features 80 exotic and high performance cars driving as fast as they can down the main airport runway. The car that goes the fastest through the radar trap wins. The event also  features hundreds of display cars and thousands of spectators.

What got our attention is that Race the Runway is run entirely by volunteers, most of the materials used are donated and 100% of proceeds from the event go to excellent local charities. And despite being run for charity, the event carries a premium brand and is recognized for providing a truly excellent participant experience.

The Race the Runway organizers need an event app that will promote the event ahead of time, add value to participants and spectators during the event, and serve as reference material and ongoing marketing once the event is complete.  In addition, the app needs to be beautiful, engaging and fun to use – it needs to reflect the event’s premium brand.  A cheesy app featuring a generic list of cars and pictures won’t cut it.

The solution…on an accelerated time scale

The goal is to build and app with the following capabilities….in 8 weeks.

  • Display pictures and specs for all competing cars
  • Provide a live leaderboard to allow users to check the standings unfold in real time
  • Provide alerts to users when one of their favourite cars is about to run
  • Allow users to snap pictures of their favourite cars and fire them out on twitter
  • Provide a back-end system to allow race officials to enter and track race data
  • The apps mandate was to be crazy useful on the day of the event but to live far beyond the event to serve and a reference app and marketing for future events

…and now the interesting requirements

  • Provide a unique, best-in-class user experience (UX). The app has to be very, very cool.
  • Deliver the app on iOS and Android and provide the same excellent experience on both platforms

The designer UX and the requirement for cross-platform support make this app a perfect fit for Flick’s Virtuoso UX platform.  In fact, I don’t think it would be possible to deliver on the requirements within the current time line any other way.

The team

Joel and Jeff
A total of 7 people will participate in the delivery of the Race the Runway App over the lifespan of the project.

  • Jeff: Project Manager
  • Joel: Design Architect
  • Steve: After Effects Visual Designer
  • Jason: Development Manager
  • Daniel, Shuo, Ben: Developers

All of the team members are active on projects for other customers so they will move in and out of the project as needed.

First status report

We are now only a few days into the project but things are coming together.  Here is where we are:mockup1

  • Business analysis complete: Functionally, this is a pretty simple app. The team was able to extract the core requirements from the key stake holders in a couple of sessions
  • Automated build systems and test framework in place: Hey, just because we’re donating the app doesn’t mean we should take shortcuts
  • Database schema complete
  • Backend skeleton is configured and live in the cloud: Because the event does not have an IT infrastructure, the decision was made to power the app from the cloud. We went with Azure for this one.
  • Functional requirements and initial design concepts are done

Next steps

  • Finish up backend system that will allow event coordinators to update app data and push notifications using the secure, Azure-based web portal
  • Prepare initial visual designs using Adobe After Effects
  • Dive into implementation of the app’s business logic in C++, we’ll be delivering the iOS version of the app first since Apple typically requires a little more time for approval in the App Store

More status reports as the app takes shape……