Product we
never wanted

9 min read

  • Client
  • Artifacts
    • Concept visualization
    • Requirement definition
    • Identity design
    • Wireframe
    • Prototypes
    • Content strategy
    • Information architecture
    • Product strategy
    • Interface & interaction design
    • Design engineering
    • App development
    • Web development
    • Usability inspection
    • Photography & videography

"Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."

- Douglas Adams

A Digital Voyage

Except we knew, we would be greeted with gravity and its annoying friend earth. Flashcards was a source of exploration, our first step to the journey into the digital age. The best part of these endeavors, especially when everyone is overboard, is that it’s a great learning experience as well as fun. The task was to transform flashcards, a flippin genius idea, into a digital form.

We were working on an app Bwish. An app for wishing birthdays which had a lot of complicated aspects that we had not yet tackled. Bwish had us exhausted. It was time for a change so we unfriended Bwish and rambled across the sticky notes for our previously written ideas. Flashcards was simple, executable and just the thing we needed. It was sought out to be a minimalistic designed app that gives a wonderful experience for our users. Suddenly we were researching, prototyping and before we knew it we were in the middle of the engineering process. The idea was to test the design as quick as possible. This helped us speedup the process by many folds.

The identity magic

Identity was another important aspect and was our parallel concern. The idea of Flashcards originated in nineteenth century. So, in order to make it look old and feel fresh, we gave it a minimal look of books placed vertically in perspective view, with vintage imager. Designing identity made us very clear about the appeal we were aiming for, and where we are heading to. It also helped us position Flashcards as a brand.

To carry on the legacy of typeface and print design, we used Serif with truly bold colors. We designed flat, single color icons to make it bit trendy. This clean and to the point identity gives Flashcards a distinct look and feel over others.

How you deal with roadblocks define your expertise?

That’s when we start hitting barriers whether it was design or code or the content. The best way to tackle problems is to prioritize. That’s what we did. We took the unnecessary detail like Theme and Test out of Flashcards. It was initially put in, but after many debates and iterations we realized the base of the product is more important than that. So we stuck to it.

99 Problems

But the problems were just beginning and they were piling up fast. We were to launch Flashcards with landing page and deadline was getting pushed up. Fortunately we bought couple of devices to test our responsive prototype. Unfortunately it revealed layout issues and more. It is best to get your app tested on as many devices you can get your hands on. On the other end, we found that we can’t upload a paid app on google play store in Pakistan. The stars were just not lining up.

A Trillion ways to solve

Screw the stars. Every problem has a solution. Nope. Actually every problem has multiple solutions. With a stout heart, the engineering and design team start fixing the minor issues. With synergy comes productivity. Our major goal, flippin idea was successfully achieved and we were preparing to launch. Initially we decided to sell our app on Amazon though we did put the demo version on google play store. We launched a campaign on Avaaz.org, a request to google to open merchant accounts in Pakistan. We are content to announce that after several months google has obliged.


On d-day; a concert of Strings, recommendation by legendry Tariq Aziz and fire-crackers at the end, were some things we couldn’t afford. But we build a classic landing page, did create our own camera slider from scratch, gave shout-outs on social media and made an emotional ad which communicates the essence of Flashcards to viewers.

Just a Pinch of wisdom

Keeping in mind what our goals were, this was an experience that was important for us as a team. We learned that deadlines were not something to fool around with. How to synergize to solve problems and the fact that our team doesn’t hesitate to ask help from anyone, is one of the reasons we work effectively.

Working on something that has very less monetary value and just for the sake of love, changes a lot of things. You work with passion and more efficiently, you have fun, you learn something new and above all, you feel alive.

Understanding technology gives me an insight on how the world works. After all, it is inspired by the nature and world we are living in.

You see, everything is complex until you break it down to a molecule. Divide and conquer. Similarly, the best answer is the simplest. You can push boundaries and can solve really complex problems by simply integrating small chunks from across technologies. So in order to achieve well execution, you need two things: multidisciplinary knowledge and logic. But there’s a third special ingredient too: creativity.

The taste of innovation is marvelous. If you really want to taste its flavor in your life, find it in detail.

We executed that on design layer with an idea that is out there for centuries. It happens only when design and development is on the same bench. The more they blend with each other, the more likely they will be aware of the possibilities and limitations of each other. Once they get to know them, opportunities start revealing and innovation happens. Like, we simplified the dropdown menu from multiple interactions to single.

The habit of innovation not only polishes our skill set but also makes us more visible in our industry which will eventually end up in doing good business.

Over the course of time, you find out that creativity doesn’t go hand in hand with the normal rules of a professional environment; for example what do you do when you have a deadline and you have a deadlock. Deadline and deadlock, both are deadly. I was fortunate enough to work with people who gave me enough wiggle room that I required.

Even in the age of cuddly cat videos, silly memes and hilarious vines, the best way to boost creativity is to read. Reading blogs, newspaper, novels, anything you can get your hands on, can expose and expand your mind exponentially. Be curious, don’t be impatient and just go with the flow.

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Made with ♥ in Islamabad.