Case: Born in Antwerp App
The City of Antwerp asked us to build a mobile application to support the Born In Antwerp project – a city marketing campaign focused on creativity and innovation in the city of Antwerp. We felt this couldn’t result into yet another app nobody is waiting for..
There was a huge amount of content for the app: events, innovative creations from Antwerp, economic news, interesting facts about Antwerp, tourism tips, … In short: a lot of information for your brain. Our gut feeling told us we had to come up with a creative and innovative way for the user to discover this content AND to keep doing that. Especially that last one is a hard nut to crack.
We were asked to fit all these topics into one concept. The result was the birth of Bo: an interactive chat-bot.
Chat-bot Bo can suggest events, tell stories and even crack a joke every once in a while. Take a look at the piles of subjects that Bo can choose from. Users will not get the same story twice from Bo. He (or is it she?) turns every conversation into a unique experience.
It’s up to the user to delve deeper into a certain topic, or to dismiss topics that he or she does not care much for. Bo will listen and switch topics if needed, to please the user with more relevant topics. The more you talk with the bot, the smarter it gets. This approach turns the Born in Antwerp app into a personal chat experience.
Conversation is key
This conversation is the heart of the UI/UX of the app. And this what makes app different and daring. The user doesn’t have to search or ask the app for information, the Born in Antwerp app suggests content to the user in the form of light-hearted conversation.
Keeping the conversation interesting
In the back-end, Bo gets smarter: if a user delves deeper into a certain conversation and shows interest for this information, Bo will give more weight to a number of predefined categories. The weight that is appointed to each category influences the next conversations and suggestions from Bo.
The Content Management System for the app is a custom made platform with endless possibilities for complex and endless conversations. We included as much rich media content as possible: the conversations contain images, GIFs, sound snippets, videos or external links. This makes the experience more diverse and appealing.
A tour through the city
Because all talk but no play makes Bo a dull bot, we added a game section — fog of war included! Users can walk through the city and discover all kinds of innovative creations that were Born in Antwerp.
This content-based game quizzes users about sixty-something Antwerp creations. The user interacts with different gestures: drag and drop, sliding, phone tilting and so on. This keeps the gameplay playful. Your host Bo will show you around town and provides local info where needed.
A simple calendar overview of events is present as well, but is not (read: shall never be) the reason to download this (or any) app. A user has the option to RSVP on events, which triggers a local notification system that alerts the user when the event takes place. This is another mechanism to keep the app relevant and to encourage returning visits.
The app-analytics showcased a surprisingly high percentage of returning visitors and app re-opens, thanks to the emotional relation that was built with a person-like chat-bot. This was a must from the beginning. Our goal of not creating a one-time-experience app was achieved. On average, users spent over 2:40 minutes with the app per session.
While the world was talking about bots, the City of Antwerp was bold enough to let us actually build one. Big ups for the courage on their decision. We were very glad to be part of this journey. In October 2016, we were more than happy to receive a Golden MIXX Award in the category Best Mobile App for our work.
And there’s more
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