It’s a self-guided audio tour of historic sites in Broome, Western Australia, including beautiful stories told by locals. Nyamba Buru Yawuru developed the concept, curated the media, engaged local stakeholders, and were product owners for the app.
This work was exciting for its value to the Broome and Yawuru community, but also because it was an opportunity to innovate under the constraint of building the simplest thing possible. The simplest thing possible was in stark contrast to the technical whizbangery (though lean delivery) of my previous app project – Fireballs in the Sky.
I had fun working on the interaction and visual design challenges under the constraints, and I think the key successes were:
- Simplifying presentation of the real-world and in-app navigation as a hand-rolled map (drawn in Inkscape), showing all the sites, that scrolls in a single direction.
- Hiding everything unnecessary during playback of stories, to allow the user to focus on the place and the story.
- Playback control behaviour across sites and the main map.
- Not succumbing to the temptation to add geo-location, background audio, or anything else that could have added to the complexity!
My colleague Nathan Jones laid the technical foundations – Phonegap/Cordova wrapping a static site built by Middleman and using CoffeeScript, knockout.js, HAML, Sass and HTML5/Cordova plugin for media. He later went on to extend and open-source (as Jila) this framework for the Yawuru Ngan-ga language app. Most of the development work by Nathan and me was done in early 2014.
While intended to be used in Broome (and yet another reason to visit Broome), the app and its beautiful stories can be enjoyed anywhere.