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Epic (Social Photo Albums) — 2017

Chat with a teammate:
What if you could have stories that didn’t disappear?
What if you could have multiple stories at once?

Feed and story views

Opportunity
In early 2017, Corey Gwin (SweetLabs PM) and I wondered if there was value in creating an app that allowed you to curate multiple stories that you could add to, edit, and develop over time. Having multiple stories could allow people to show many angles of their personality. The idea intrigued us. How would people use this? How could it be different than all the other “Story” experiences we currently have?

Corey focussed on engineering while I focussed on design and prototyping. Our roles often blurred, and our slack conversations had no concept of working hours.

Progress bar animation helps indicate the end of an Epic

Concept
This began as a mashup of pinterest, instagram and hardbound. We named the app Epic (Epic == a long story). Our MVP was aimed at enabling super streamlined mobile story telling via photos and videos. People can create individual “Epics” that they add photos and videos to, all published in real-time.

Profile, bookmarks and activity views

Market & Competitors
Snapchat and Instagram are of course the stewards of the stories concept. These platform’s take on stories (at the time) was that they were ephemeral, with a low bar for entry. You don’t have to edit yourself too much because your “in the moment” content would not be there the next day. It was obvious that stories were becoming a common UI element, not just a feature of a few apps.

Pull in any direction to close

Challenges
Getting people to use the app could be a huge challenge. Why would anyone invest time in making stories with our app when they already have similar functionality and a community in other apps? Curating Epics might require more effort and craft than on similar platforms. The permanency of our stories could also attach a requirement for quality content that might be a deterrent for some people.

An interation of the content capture & Epic selection flow

Feature List

•   Epics with photos, videos and text.

•   Curate multiple Epics at once.

•   Rename Epics at any time.

•   Bookmark Epics from other people & know when they add new content.

•   Epics with multiple authors.

•   Rearrange content within Epics.

•   Other media types, YouTube, Giphy, Soundcloud…

Audience overlay

What we learned
We launched to a small group of people within the company. Through observation and discussions, we saw that while the concept was super fun, it did not inspire the type of behavior we would need to scale quickly and provide lasting value back to our company. Corey and I really loved this product and the process of creating it. We used it every day for months. We also used it in different ways than originally expected—my favorite epic was a collection of colorful motion blur photos.

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© Bryan Sleiter & SweetLabs Inc. 2018