Jackie and the Beanstalk: The Interns’ Version!
Melissa Robison, Former Viget
This summer, I served as project manager on one of our intern projects, Jackie and the Beanstalk, an interactive storybook. Three of our interns -- Adey Chaplin (Designer), Will Moritz (Developer), and India Green (User Experience) -- gained experience working as a team on a tangible product that I think is a pretty cool accomplishment for nine weeks.
Jackie and the Beanstalk is nifty and includes a few twists on the traditional story of Jack and the Beanstalk (could you have guessed?). It’s built for Chrome, Safari, and Mobile Safari on any iPad. It even supports Retina displays. Awesome!
A screenshot from the interactive
A Fulfilling & Learning Experience
I found it truly fulfilling to work with these talented interns and be a mentor on one of their first real team-based collaborative projects. In addition, each one of them was thankful for the experience and they learned a lot.
As a team, everyone learned that forming one cohesive, well-thought-out idea and being on the same page from the get-go could be challenging. We did a lot of sketching and storyboarding. Also, determining what tasks each team member should be responsible for took some time. Some tasks overlapped disciplines and we needed to get to know each other to gel. For instance, once we had a story and a user flow, who should write the actual copy?
And of course, managing to scope was challenging. The team optimistically increased the scope in the first week (against my suggestions) and then decreased it again halfway through.
As the designer, Adey gained experience designing for kids. The aesthetic had to convey wonder and fantasy. She accomplished this with wackily manipulated photos, sparkles, glowing things, big buttons, and large text. She also gained experience designing for the iPad in addition to the desktop. To reduce load time, she used gradients (not images) for the sky and repeated images where possible. Of course, animations needed to be chosen carefully.
As the user experience lead, India also learned how to create effective interactive experiences for kids. Age really matters and we were targeting kids ages six to eight. Navigation had to be clear and page interactions had to be obvious. India gained lots of experience testing the storybook with the target audiences and working with the team to tweak the design and animations.
As the front-end developer, Will learned how to develop for different user experiences across the iPad, iPad Retina, and browsers. He also spent a lot of time optimizing images and animations for a faster load. And, he sharpened his skills on SCSS, reusing code, and using CSS for complex 3D transformations and keyframe animations.
This project was a lot of fun and the interns have a tangible end product that they can be proud of. Check it out, share it on Facebook, and follow these awesome folks on Twitter to see what they are up to next! Adey, Will, and India can be followed on Twitter here: @incigreen, @AdeyLady123, and @willthefirst!