Diptic


Overview
Diptic was the first mobile photography collaging application for iPhone and has since gone on to become a widely popular collaging app on multiple platforms. The app enables users to create and share beautiful photo and video collages on their mobile devices.

Results

An app that has had millions of downloads and has been featured as an App Store App of the Week and achieved a 4.5-lifetime star rating. Expanded product to be a suite of apps on desktop and mobile. Diptic for Mac was selected as one of the Apps of the Year by Apple for both 2012 and 2013. Apple featured Diptic PDQ as one of its Best New Apps.

Role

Product Management, UX/UI Design, Wireframes, Prototyping, UX Research, Testing

View in the App Store
Preview video of version 8 that introduced video and animated collages




Product Creation

In 2010 our company was interested in pursuing mobile app development as an extension of our web development and design practice. Having a keen interest in the new possibilities of mobile software and user interface design and business opportunities, I collaborated with a few of my colleagues to brainstorm ideas on what would be a viable product to build as our first mobile app.

To come up with the idea, we —

  • held after hours whiteboard sessions
  • evaluated product categories
  • sketched interface concepts
  • created user stories to describe value propositions

Through this process, early brainstorming refined itself into a specific product - a photo collage app that would allow users to further process their on-the-go photos by creating short stories to commemorate an experience and share with friends.

Once we had a solid concept, I —

  • presented the concept to our CEO and got buy-in
  • interviewed engineers
  • wrote the functional specification
  • defined the initial feature-set for the MVP
  • collaborated with our designers on the wireframes and initial visual design
Early prototype

I then kicked off development with our engineer and started refining the initial product through insights gleaned during the development sprints. I created an initial product roadmap to detail the features for inclusion for the launch of the MVP and subsequent versions.  This process of iterating the features through research and collaboration with design and development continues today with additional insights from user feedback, the ever-changing app market, and data gathered from analytics.


Initial Launch Success


After just a couple of development sprints, we launched in June 2010. Within the first ten days, we were featured and promoted by Apple in the App Store to become a decided hit. This successful product launch has led to a long and firmly positioned product in iPhone Photography category, made a significant return on our development investment, enhanced and expanded our product portfolio, and led to an opportunity to build our mobile development and design practice internally and for clients. I was promoted to Director of Mobile as well to lead efforts to grow the product, our portfolio, and our client services business in mobile.

To continue the success of this product after launch, I quickly developed a process to build the product development, marketing, and support efforts.


Process

I maintain an ever-evolving process for iterating the product through numerous releases.  The framework for updating the product is structured on a variety of different sources of information to inform product decisions and the product roadmap.

  • User Feedback
  • User Reviews
  • Application Analytics
  • Market Research
  • User Testing Results
  • External / Social Media
  • Environmental (OS, Device) Roadmaps

I use a Trello board for consolidating information from the different channels and break things out into whiteboard sessions for discussions and yellow stickies to work through concepts in different ways. The Trello board is then used to funnel ideas and user stories into development and design actions to be worked on, to triage through development and beta releases, and to maintain a product backlog to support the roadmap.

To hash out ideas further, I create wireframes and flow diagrams to explore user stories created. This leads to creating visual mockups and animated prototypes to create realistic experiences that can be tested and vetted by users. Once versions near release candidates, I work with our beta distribution channel to get actual application builds in the hands of users for testing and feedback. Throughout this process, I also loop in marketing and support to ensure everyone is in sync with the upcoming releases.

This process has lead to years of major product releases and features that delight an ever-growing user base.
Wireframes/Flow detailing multi-select feature


Product Expansion

The initial product took under less than a month of development, offered a very limited feature-set (5 layouts and the ability export to mail or camera roll) and targeted iPhone and iPad running iOS 3. Since then, the product has been updated to support every version of iOS (along with sibling products on other platforms) and have expanded the capabilities significantly to become a mature collaging application.

Child Products

On the same platform, I created related products that distilled the best aspects of the main application to explore findings based on user research and analytics in the core product — Diptic PDQ and Diptic Video.

Diptic PDQ — short for Pretty Damn Quick — was launched to deliver a tailored experience of creating simple collages as fast as possible. I pursued this product offshoot to experiment in the market and see how a scaled down feature set would be received and test how an entirely different user flow would work for creating collages.



We targeted the latest iOS release at the time — iOS 7 — which was a significant departure in visual aesthetic and interaction models and our product came to be featured on Apple’s marketing page for iOS 7 due to our substantial concept and execution.




Using insights gained from this product, I revamped some of the core interfaces of the main application to improve usability and utility by streamlining the core flow and allowing for the quicker execution of primary tasks.




Diptic Video — as the mobile photography experience matured rapidly and capabilities of devices expanded to the point where video editing was feasible, I built a product specification and outline of the user experience for a focused video collaging application.



Using insights from this product’s user feedback and analytics, I created a user story for the main product that expanded on the concept of video and lead to our addition of the animated collages wherein the actual collage borders come to live in addition having video content embedded in static collages.




Animated Layouts



Taking the concept of video collages to the next level, I designed and prototyped an experience where in the application was expanded to have a special category of layouts where the collage borders move in dynamic ways controlled by the user.





This has been a huge hit with our users and the monetization of this feature has created some unique opportunities for marketing . After researching how apps continue to change how they monetize updates, I made this new feature for free with a watermark that is removed once the app is purchases. This has allowed the entirety of our user base to enjoy and try the feature, while also providing a sustainable path to generate new revenue.



SNAKE

As a bonus, and due to the fact that processing multiple high resolution videos is such a processing hit, I had to solve the challenge of keeping the user engaged while their videos rendered. I created multiple video prototypes to test out concepts that were both visual and interactive, and through user feedback concluded that offering a mini-game of Snake was the most enjoyable occupation of the user’s wait time.



Messaging App

In 2016, Apple announced at WWDC the Messaging App Store and the capabilities that iMessage would gain with iOS 10 for application developers to build messaging applications inside of iMessage.

I researched the iOS 10 SDK capabilities and watched WWDC presentations about this feature in iOS and assessed what opportunities there would be for our application. I then began creating a user story for sending collages in iMessage with the ability to edit shared collages to enable realtime collaboration and sharing of photos.

To achieve this, I explored the idea of using iCloud as a way to send/receive photos over iMessage and presented the idea to our engineer for further iteration on the concept. Through leveraging iCloud we created an architecture that required zero backend application development and would enable end-to-end encryption of the users’ photos being shared with one another.




Partnerships & Extensions

The success of Diptic on iOS has led to a number of partnerships and extensions of the product that I have facilitated and collaborated on with various partners.

Microsoft

We worked with Microsoft to build a version of the application for Windows 8.1 on the desktop and WinPhone 8 for mobile. Through this partnership we tailored the app to the new modern UI experiences on these platforms and delivered a product for the Windows Store that satisfied and delighted users with quick and fast collaging. I created the specification and identified the core features that were to be included on these platforms, presented to Microsoft, and worked closely with the designer and engineer to execute on the plan. The mobile app went on to be submitted to Nokia’s Create contest and was given an honorable mention in the Photo category.


Amazon

Similarly, in 2013 Amazon approached us to build a custom version of our application for the Kindle Fire tablet devices. I worked closely with them to update and customize our Android version to go live in the Kindle Fire Store.


Walgreens
Walgreens approached us to discuss a collaboration in expanding our product to integrate with their services and to license some of our technology for inclusion in their applications. I worked with their product manager to review options that would be mutually beneficial and agreed upon a solution that helped elevate their product and deliver a fun experience for their vast user base.



Samsung & Tizen

We worked with Samsung to create a completely custom version of Diptic for their pre-release Operating System Tizen that was intended to be a major addition to the mobile device landscape. While Samsung pivoted with Tizen to be more for embedded devices, the mobile version of it was released for mobile phones in Russia.


In The Press

"A simple, elegant way to use pictures to tell your story." — Macworld

"Diptic's well-designed interface, simplicity, and thoughtful balance of features make it a delightful app to use."
— TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog)

App Store Rankings
  • Featured in iTunes App Store's "New and Noteworthy," "What's Hot," "App of the Week" and "Staff Favorites"
  • Top 100 in iPhone Paid Apps Overall
  • Top 5 in iPad Paid Photography Apps
  • Top 5 in iPhone Paid Photography Apps
  • Top 100 in iPad Paid Apps Overall

Miscellaneous

In 2015/2016 a special demo version of Diptic was pre-installed on every iPhone in the US Apple Stores, coinciding with the release of new iPhone 6s’ and iOS 9.


At WWDC '13 Diptic was included in the "HyperTable" — a giant tabletop of interactive iPads featuring the top 20,000 apps in the App Store.



Get in touch: 
reinhardtsf@gmail.com