KidsConnect was a Knee High Design Challenge finalist and is now a successful app providing accurate, up to date information on activities and services for children under five across Lambeth and Southwark. We spoke to KidsConnect founders, Tracey Gilbert and Hannah White, and asked them how they managed to get 4000 families to use their app within one year. Here's what they told us.  

1. Our design focused on the needs of users

From day one our focus has been on providing what our users want and need. Our initial idea for KidsConnect came from our own experience as parents of under fives but we rigorously tested our assumptions to ensure that we really understood what we needed to provide. Our testing included an online survey and a randomised controlled trial with a paper prototype of the app before we even started our first build. All this meant that the app we built was one that users really wanted to use.

2. We constantly iterated based on feedback

Having built the first version of our app and set it free into the real world (!) we went back to our users and asked for their feedback on what worked, what didn't and what else they would like to see KidsConnect provide. We made constant readjustments to the app in response to the feedback we received and designed the second version of the app to deliver the more significant changes users told us they wanted to see. Constantly seeking feedback meant we were continuously learning and demonstrating to users that we were responsive to their needs.

3. We tried to make using KidsConnect a delightful experience

We worked intensively with user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers to think through the way users would interact with KidsConnect and make our app as user-friendly as possible. In the latest iteration (currently under construction) we have also tried to make KidsConnect a really delightful product to engage with (watch this space to see if you think we've succeeded)!

4. We used our service providers as champions

As we developed the content of KidsConnect, spreading our reach systematically across Lambeth and Southwark, we built relationships with the people running the activities and services we listed. This included children's centres, health visitors, libraries, midwives, and businesses - large and small. We harnessed their enthusiasm for the new means of advertising their services that we had provided and asked them to spread the word about KidsConnect amongst their clients. Hearing about KidsConnect from a service provider they already knew and trusted gave users an added incentive to try the app and - if they liked it - to recommend it to their friends.

5. We built a strong social media following

As well as advertising KidsConnect with traditional media - posters and flyers handed out in the street - we developed a social media strategy with help from a professional who gave us pro bono help. We worked to develop a distinctive voice for KidsConnect and to provide content of interest to our users across Twitter, Facebook and our blog.  As users shared this content across their networks we gained more and more users attracted by its relevance.  

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