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Binary Books: Be a Co-Author of the Book You're Reading

Binary Books is an iOS app that allows users to become co-authors of novels in progress. They can download the new chapters, comment, submit their edits and actually change the characters’ destiny. They can chat live with the author and join groups to discus and alter the plot. Users can present their paragraphs or chapters, get feedback on their writing and get published.

project type

Mobile, UI/UX

client

Binary Books

engagement model

Fixed Price

release date

June 2016

technology

Swift, iOS 9 and10, in-app purchases, Customised native UI controls, SQLite with CoreData, RESTful client-server communication, Facebook & Twitter integration, ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API, Umbraco, PushSharp, HTML/CSS, javaScript/jQuery, Entity Framework, MS SQL

 

The Client

The client approached Melon as a lead from our website. Initially, she opted for an app both for iOS and Android but since her target audience is in the USA, she decided on leaving out Android and forwarding this budget to marketing the app.  

We started from ground zero. The project didn’t have a name yet and we suggested the client a list of names. The one she chose, Binary Books, was one of them. Also, we are very happy because the client entrusted us not only with the software development from a list of specifications, but also included us as a consultant in the entire product development lifecycle - from design to market launch and support. 

The Project

It was an unusual project for Melon iOS team so they were thrilled and advanced with curiosity and enthusiasm. Since it involved all stages of application development, they were supported by two other Melon teams – UX/UI and visual design and back-end.

The application they all built allows the users to download a novel in progress. They can read for free the preface and the first three chapters. The rest of the content is available upon subscription. There are four payment methods – chapter by chapter, all the chapters about one of the three main characters, all the chapters and a promotion – buy two chapters and get one free. 

The readers can signify whether they like a chapter or not and rate it. They can comment on paragraphs – either publically or as a personal message to the author. The author, on her turn, can mark a comment as helpful or not and can engage with readers in chat sessions related to the characters. Also, the author can select key words or phrases, underline them and add to them teasers about the next chapters to keep up the hype.

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The users can use book marks and choose between four fonts. They can change the size, and the background color, as well as the brightness which is differentiated from the phone brightness. 

The app features a content management system that allows for the publication of the chapters and managing the comments and chats with the readers. 

Melon also designed and created the Binary Books website. It’s meant to promote the project and the books. Users can use it to read the free preface and chapters. Also, it’s a news hub where they can find out what to expect. Of course, it features responsive design. 

The design is simple, yet intuitive and interactive. The style and visual elements are clean and clear, all unnecessary elements being removed to focus on functionality. In the process, Melon’s visual designers also created Binary Books’ logo.

The project was strictly agile and we had daily scrums with all the teams. Apart from them, we had brainstorming meetings every now and then.

Challenges

The most difficult part was calculating the range of the text – how it will change positions and sizes with different screens, fonts and sizes when the users slide the pages to the left or to the right. It’s a huge amount of calculations and we underestimated the volume and hence the required time and resources. The positions of the key words also demanded a lot of calculations.   

Synchronization was tricky as well, since at every start the app should consider all the chapters, comments, key words and the planned and integrated chats.

Results

The client is very happy with the outcome. We already started receiving inquiries from potential clients referred by her.

There are other apps like this one but none of them features that many functionalities and add-ons. In none of them, the readers’ input is emphasized to such an extent.  

The next step is integrating more authors, genres and books.