Startup Case Study

Storypress

Peer-to-Peer Real-time C2C
Storypress website screenshot

Overview

Mike Davis

Mike is the founder of StoryPress, a Dallas-based startup that has raised over $500,000 in funding. His storytelling platform makes it easy to create, save, and share personal memories and stories.

When Mike approached me to build his new storytelling platform, he explained that he had already produced a simple storytelling app which was gaining quite a bit of attention in the Apple app store. It was a simple app which allowed users to record a personal story and send it to someone.

Based on that success, he wanted to build a new web platform where users could browse, watch, and share each other's stories.

Over the next year, I would develop his platform, moving from concept to a full-featured web app.

Concept

Mike's new platform would need to be a much more feature rich application than what he had already. He wanted to provide a more in-depth storytelling experience by allowing users to record their stories through a web app, combining voice, video, and images into a compelling multimedia presentation which could be shared on the platform and also through social media.

Based on Mike's needs, I identified what we would need to focus on:

  • Easy-to-use user interface
    Because Mike was targeting an audience of senior citizens, the platform would need to be very easy to use. And since sharing was a key feature of the platform, the web app would need to make it easy to spread stories on social media.

  • A way to record stories
    Users needed to easily record and playback media-rich stories.

  • Discoverability of stories
    Users needed to easily be able to find new and interesting stories to watch, and stay engaged with the platform.

  • Scalable processing of large amounts of video, audio, and images
    To create their stories, users would need to be able to upload media in a wide array of formats. The platform would need to process this media in the background and convert it into standard formats which would be compatible with a variety of web browsers, as well as iPhone and iPad devices.

Solutions

  • Responsive Single Page Application
    The front-end was built as a Single Page Application, making it easy to build a highly interactive and responsive User Interface, since the page did not have to be reloaded between every user interaction.
    This made the platform easy and intuitive to use, and helped those familiar with the iPad app feel at home on the web app.

  • Custom Story creation tool
    I created a custom story creation tool, which prompts storytellers with questions about their life. Story creators can then respond by recording their voice, or uploading photos and videos. I also created a custom video player which would play back finished stories in sync with background music. Many external APIs were integrated to enable easy sharing of stories on Facebook, Twitter, and DropBox.
    This made it easy for users to record stories, even if they weren't particularly tech savy.

  • Algorithms to display popular stories
    There was a need to display popular and trending stories on the front-page of the website, so I created simple algorithms for this task which would rank stories based on popularity, number of views, etc.
    This made the front-page much more interesting for users, leading to greater engagement with the platform.

  • Real-time notification system
    I created a real-time notification system to let users know when new content was added to the platform. Users were notified by email and within the application.
    This increased user participation immensely, and also increased returning traffic to the website.

  • Integration with media processing service
    Rather than process audio and video in-house, I determined it would be more cost-effective and easier to scale if I offloaded this task to a 3rd-party service. I developed a process to submit user-generated content to this service automatically, and then upload the processed media to our servers afterwards.
    This eliminated the need to maintain video and audio processing servers, saving thousands of dollars a month.

Technologies used

Ruby on Rails JavaScript / ES6 AngularJS Node.js Websockets PostgreSQL Redis SCSS / CSS3 Full text search Heroku Twitter API Facebook API HAML / HTML5 RSpec

Founder's perspective

After successfully launching Mike's platform, here's what he had to say about my work:

Mike Davis

We worked with Matt for almost a full year and were very happy with his skill, professionalism, and communication. Matt was great at coming up with solutions to challenging situations. I would absolutely work with Matt again.

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