Tech XLR8 - How much can you build in 2.5 days?*
February 15 2019

*Whilst at a show, with semi-working internet...


Last year we decided to go out on a limb - we’ve always been confident that we can plan, design, develop and launch apps faster and better than our competition, and we thought the time had come to put our money where our mouth was.


So, we launched #BuildMyApp - a competition where we invited anyone with a good, not for profit app idea to let us know about it, with a promise that we would design and build the winning idea for free, and in less than three days (and live during London Tech Week).


Our team was touched by how many wonderful people with incredible ambitions reached out to us to share their visions. The submissions varied from victim support apps to apps working towards more accessible legal guidance for kids. Unfortunately, we could only choose one idea to move ahead with and, after much head-scratching, consultations with regulatory bodies and an impassioned walk around Finsbury Square we found ourselves with a winner.


In the end, Signalong’s proposal for an app to help people learn sign language using a mix of Google Vision technology and a custom database won over all our hearts.



Great idea, but what happened next?


Well, we’ll tell you. After a couple of calls with the Signalong team and some rapid-fire planning , we outlined, designed and built a fully working iOS app in the grand total of 2.5 days, ready for release.


In those couple of days, we worked through -


  • Scope clarification

  • User journey mapping

  • Wireframes

  • Full design visuals

  • Full staging environment development

  • Full backend integration

  • Full supporting asset creation


By the end of the TechXLR8 event, we found ourselves in a position with a fully working iOS app, poised for release onto the App Store. Signalong had a few checks and balances to complete after the event, with the final app being released into the big, bad world at the end of Summer 2018.


Since its launch the app has been downloaded xxxx times, and feedback has been overwhelming. (We’d call that a success…!)


Simple question. How?


For those of you who know Studio Graphene - when we’re allowed to work our way (!), we can work fast. Really, really fast.


Want to know what ‘working our way’ means in practice? We thought the best people to ask would be the team themselves..



  • A realistic scope and clarity of vision

“The Signalong #BuildMyApp challenge was a great project to work on and challenging to achieve because the time frame available was really short. In my opinion, one of the keys of its success was the ability for our team to discern the core idea / need of the client for this App, translate it to a few key areas of functionality, and focus on those very few specific features. This approach allowed us to write a simple scope whilst fitting exactly to the client's needs. This in turn enabled us to build the core product in a really short time frame, whilst still being useful for the client and providing a robust base for any further work.” - Pierrot, iOS Developer



  • Pragmatism


“Not being held back by “this HAS to be that colour” or “the carousel MUST work like this” was crucial in allowing us to move quickly. So much design and development time can be lost to pet features where an individual’s ego is involved. Successful projects focus on solving the user’s problem, not creating any one individual’s particular vision.


For this project Signalong gave us enormous creative control and trusted our ability to deliver what they were looking for. The charity’s CEO Tracy came to visit us regularly over the three days on the exhibition stand, was able to provide in-moment steer on how people accessed and engaged with sign language and was excited to see her idea coming to life.” - Christine, Digital Strategist



  • Unfettered team work


One of the greatest strengths of the Studio Graphene team is our ability to have open, objective and productive debates when working on a project. We recognise every individual’s expertise, and viewpoint, and are well-versed in having difficult discussions on projects.


Is this really necessary? I’m not sure that’s a good idea, and this is why.. Have you thought about this? Here’s something that might help…


We had all hands-on deck during TechXLR8 - from our founder Ritam to Product Managers, Designers, Developers and the Marketing team, and each and every person was involved to some degree in the project. Our Product Manager Tom lead the project, and brought people in on specific issues, and for the twice daily stand up. This balance between collaboration and a single, executive guiding PM ensured that a broad range of knowledge was called upon, without things descending into a ‘too many cooks’-esque form of chaos!



  • Working for a good cause


Even though a good cause isn’t always a given on a project and certainly isn’t always a requirement, we would be lying if we said it didn’t have an impact on our motivation.


“Our agency tagline is that we are “the Studio of Better things”. This is based on our belief that technology can, should and will make the world a better place. Being able to use our skills to do something that has a real-world positive impact is a phenomenal feeling and undeniably motivating.” - Ritam, Founder




None of this would have been possible without a big group of people, so finally we would like to thank…


Signalong for coming to us with such a brilliant idea, and working with us with incredible enthusiasm!


The Team - whilst everyone at the studio was involved in some shape or form, honourable mentions go out to Tom, Eloy, Pierrot, Jyo, Shipra and Sunaina for two and a half days of tireless work.



Blog Weight