How we built the Beervana App

And what we’ve learnt along the way

If you know PaperKite, then you probably know we love building Apps. Solving real-world problems with native mobile experiences is one of the things that truly makes us happy. Another one of those things is Beer (and cider!). So when the Beervana team came to us to get help with a new App for their Beer festival, the choice was simple.

We started by hosting an evening PK IGNITE workshop with the Beervana team. This helped us to identify their primary outcomes, and discover the features that would have the greatest benefit to festival attendees. With the additions of pizza and beer the workshop was easy 👌. And the number one goal? To build a new product that reflected the Beervana brand and helped drive engagement prior to, and during, the event. This was going to be exciting!

But it wasn’t all plain sailing. With limited time and resources we had to create a plan that still achieved the original goal, but with a reduced scope. This meant cutting back some of the shiny features. This wasn’t what we’d originally planned, but we took it as a challenge. And with a small motivated project team we managed to deliver what we set out to achieve. We also made sure to build the product in a way that will allow it to be easily expanded in future years.

We intentionally tried to keep the UI simple and reusable, reducing the number of custom elements where possible. But we still made time to add a few bonus animations to celebrate the fun Beervana brand. We’ve started using Lottie in some of our other products but in this instance we stuck to good old fashioned frame animations to keep things easy. The final outputs brought some playful personality to the App — without taking anything away from the core function.

Having fun with loading states, star ratings, and wishlisting

One of the integral functions of the App was the Leaderboard. Once beers reached enough ratings they were ranked based on their average. The top rated beers got a lot of exposure and as such, this feature turned out to be very popular. More popular than we expected — last year’s App had 4,000 ratings towards the leaderboard whereas this year we had just below 30,000! With such an unexpected high number of votes our servers got overloaded and we had to scale them during the day (between beers as we were also attending the event!). We also noticed some suspicious voting with tactical 1 star ratings trying to manipulate the leaderboard. We’re thinking of ways to prevent this next year.

We had some 80” screens displaying the leaderboard during the event. Super cool!

Now that all the dust has settled, it’s cool to look back at the Festival and reflect on how the App was received by attendees. Attending the event as a team helped us get a real flavour for the Beervana experience — so we are well equipped with ideas for next year. Some of the interesting numbers from this year:

  • 5,130 downloads over a two week period
  • 3,268 users signed in using facebook or untappd
  • 70 breweries and cideries taking part in Beervana
  • 458 beers and ciders listed in the App
  • 28,678 total ratings (about 4,000 last year)
  • The most rated Beer had 634 ratings (100 more than the next highest)

And here are some of the items that are top of our list for next year:

  • Introducing improved ways to filter or sort the huge list of beers will make it easier for people to locate drinks based on their preferences (for cider drinkers like me).
  • The leaderboard was super popular so we think we should spend some time working out the fairest way to rank beers, and making that clear in the App.
  • Turns out that knowing where to find Breweries is important, and this year’s map wasn’t ideal for use on mobile. Next year we want to have a mobile friendly map, if not something interactive 🙌
  • Including more details like aisle number and price will make the App even more useful.

This was my first year attending Beervana and I can’t believe how much fun I had! With a vibrant mix of drinks and food, I’d highly recommend it to everyone. And if you did try the App and have some suggestions for next year, then let us know and we’ll make sure to include it in our thinking.

Cheers!

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