Interview with the Kizzu Apps Developer Team

Lately we’ve been receiving a lot of emails and Facebook messages from parents giving us feedback and asking us questions about Kizzu. We love hearing what you guys think about our apps and appreciate you sharing your opinions. As we’ve had a few questions about the development process of our apps we thought we’d share our side of the Kizzu story with you and interviewed Luke, our lead app developer. Here are Luke’s thoughts on developing apps for children.

 

Luke Hubbard, Kizzu Lead App Developer


1) To start with, can you tell us something about the Kizzu Apps Developer Team?

We are a small team of developers, designers and illustrators based in London and Bangkok. We work out of my house which is split into half home and half office. Most days my son is playing in the office during the afternoon.


2) Why did you decide to develop Kizzu Apps?

I think the decision to build kids apps happened quite quickly after seeing how natural it was for my son (then about 2-3 years old) to use the iPad. It was clear to me that these types of devices would change education and transform the way people learn.


3) Where do your ideas for educational apps come from?

Watching kids play and also hanging out in bookshops.

As adults we associate play with games and games with points and winning. I think this leads to many developers building simplified adult games. But if you actually watch a child they are more likely to be role playing with their toys. With very young kids it’s usually about stimulus, bright colours, having things move, making noises, etc.

I find bookshops fascinating, you can tell a lot just by the layout and watching people browsing. Most book shops have quite a big kids section, with focus being on younger kids material. Not everything which works in publishing can transition to apps but you can learn a lot and gain valuable insights.


4) How long is the process from the first idea to the release of an app? What does this process look like?

It depends on the app but in general I would say about 3-4 months for an app.

Initially we start by sketching ideas using pen and paper then try to produce a prototype with rough graphics just to test the interaction and any game play. If it doesn’t feel right we either go back to the drawing board or scrap it.

Assuming the prototype works well enough we plan out the rest of the app and work on producing the assets. Once the assets are ready a developer works to put a beta version of the app together which is tested first internally (my son is usually the first kid to try it) then with friends and their kids.

Once we feel it’s good enough we ship it. It’s better to ship early and make improvements than it is to wait too long. We get really good feedback from our customers and try to update our apps quite frequently.

Sketches of a new app idea


5) Who takes part in the making of a Kizzu app?

A typical team building an app would comprise of one or two developers, a designer, and an illustrator.


6) What do you consider the most important in creating apps for children and why?

Engagement. If kids don’t want to use the app then we have failed and they won’t get any of the educational value out of it.


7) How do you test your apps before they go live?

We do regular reviews and test in the office as apps are being developed. Once they are at a stage where they are playable we upload the app to testflight and it’s shared with beta testers. There are a few of us who have kids the right age so we get honest feedback from real users. Often just observing kids use the app highlights UX issues that we go back and fix.

Taan testing on his iPad


8) What would you recommend for parents who are not sure which apps to choose for their children? How do you know an app is ‘good’ for your child?

I would avoid apps that have ads or virtual currency as these tend to be pushy. Checkout the reviews and see what other parents are saying. Look for apps that have regular updates and features such as the option to disable upgrades. If you have the time it is worth browsing the momswithapps forum for recommendations. Last but not least, use the app yourself before handing it over to your child.


9) What will Kizzu’s future look like? What sort of apps are you planning to release next?

Our goal is to build Kizzu into a brand parents recognise and trust as a source of quality apps. Last year we were really finding our feet, this year we are growing the team and investing more in creative talent. In the next release you will hopefully see that quality shine through.


Did we miss a question? If so, please let us know in the comments. Luke is happy to answer any unasked questions ;)


Categories: About Kizzu