The App That Bookbug Built

A handful of Bookbug cards with different app feature suggestions on them
Category: Bookbug

When the Bookbug app project began in June 2017, we knew that there was huge potential to share the benefits of Bookbug with more families across Scotland. An app couldn’t - and shouldn’t - replace any of our existing Bookbug resources, but it could help families fit songs and rhymes into their day-to-day routine.

'The app had to be built for users by users'

To help us understand more about what our users needed, we had to find a way of building the app with them. In order to be truly collaborative, the app had to be built for users by users.

The Consultation Process

It was so important to us to involve those who will be engaging with the Bookbug app in the development process. So, over the past few months, I have been facilitating focus groups across Scotland to do just that. Clocking up well over 1000 miles, visiting 10 local authorities and involving two health boards, six library services, several nurseries and early years teams as well as other charitable organisations: Barnados, Scottish Childminding Association, Play Scotland and local Multicultural Associations. The key to the success of the new app is to include those working directly with families to see what they need most.

In order to facilitate discussion, participants were given a Bookbug card game to play which helped them to prioritise features for the app. There was also a ‘Brucey Bonus Card’ that allowed them to make up their own feature. At the end of the game, they ended up with their very own prototype app, made up of the feature cards. We could then discuss their app build, and why those features were important to them and the families they work with.

36 card prototypes later, the results were in… and our top five features included:

Offline app functionality

This feature was hugely important to users. Connectivity is a big issue for many families and practitioners. Whether it’s a location issue or a cost issue, we want our app to work offline, so that Bookbug can be accessed by everyone.

Build my own playlist

Personalising content and building up your own song and rhyme playlist came high on the list of priorities - both for Bookbug Session building (for practitioners) and for families who just love to be able to play those special songs again and again (apologies in advance parents and carers!)

Find my nearest Bookbug Session (geo-location)

To encourage a break from the screen, this feature helps families find their nearest Bookbug Session so that they can enjoy a session with other families at their local library or community venue, and even borrow some books afterwards!

Songs and Rhymes in other languages

Whilst we are unable to produce our Bookbug bag books in languages other than Gaelic, a digital platform creates a more affordable option to allow us to share content in other languages. Over the coming months, we’re hoping to develop new content in other languages, reaching families who have English as an additional language as well as families keen to learn new languages.

Instrumental versions

Again, this was a popular feature and allows users to sing along in their own language, or just listen to an instrumental version of their favourite song or rhyme. With so much versatility in this content, we are hoping to include instrumental songs and rhymes when our app launches in January!

We’ll be testing these features and more over the coming months to ensure the app is ready for launch in January 2019.

A huge thank you to all our focus group participants. We can’t wait to share the final version with you!

Ruth Grindley

Ruth Grindley is the Early Years Digital Products Manager at Scottish Book Trust.