Client:
Alarm Clock App

Project:
Build a profitable alarm clock app among 600 competitors.

Challenge:
Bringing the physical world to a mobile device.

Digital App design:
The perfect alarm clock app.

Case Study: From failure to success in the App Store

Prior client efforts:
A former Apple iOS developer called us after his app had failed on the App Store. He had made an alarm clock app that was nothing short of beautiful, with all the bells and whistles he could think of, and had four people purchase the app over a one month time frame. Two of them returned the app, and the other two never opened it, despite paying $2. In other words, his app was a failure and he turned to First User Group to try again.

Engagement:
We began designing his new Alarm Clock app by doing a quick competitive analysis of available Alarm Clocks on the App Store and Google Play. There were roughly 600 free and paid apps that fit the description of ‘alarm clock.’

Then, with their permission, we watched people use alarms in their homes, just as they do on a regular nightly basis. Some of our findings were surprising:

  1. People are tired when they set an alarm for the morning.
  2.  Setting the alarm is the last thing people do before going to sleep unless they read in bed.
  3.  People who wear glasses or contacts often don’t have them on/in when they set an alarm.
  4.  Every user had miss-set their smart phone alarm at least once in the last 6 months.
  5.  Only 75% of our test group used a smart phone as their alarm, despite all of them owning a smartphone. Many were still using classic alarm clocks (due to charging their smartphone while sleeping, or as a result of problems with smartphone alarms in the past). Every user disliked the ‘scroll wheel’ used by both Apple and Android as the default way to set an alarm.
  6.  Every user was comfortable with a 7-minute snooze, or with whatever default came with their alarm (from 5 to 10 minutes).
  7. No user expressed an interest in added features such as world time, the weather report for the following day, calendar events or sports scores; 20% expressed that they did enjoy seeing the current temperature, but that is wasn’t necessary in an alarm clock app.
  8. 25% of users set two alarms if they had to get up earlier than usual or had an important meeting the next day.
  9. 75% of our test group had no interest in picking a song to play as their alarm.
  10. All users wanted a ‘classic alarm clock sound’ or a jarring noise to wake them up.
  11. All users set their smartphone alarm apps in portrait view and with one hand.

Using this data, we then designed an alarm clock app with:
No scroll wheel.
Big numbers.
Big ‘SET’ button.

Operation:
The hour and time are in their own, big, highlighted box ⅓ of the way down the screen – we called this screen the ‘Set Screen’ with one button below the two boxes labeled ‘SET.’
The app opened to the Set Screen
Touch a number box, it advances.
Hold a number box, it advances faster.
Touch the bottom ⅓ of a number box and the numbers go backwards (an Easter egg).
All settings for snooze time, alarm tone, various colors, time display settings, and backup alarms were NOT visible on the Set Screen, but were instead in the preferences tab.

The wire frame was as simple as it could be (shown above on the left).

The client priced his new alarm clock app at $.99. He cleared $10k in the first month, with no press. Apple subsequently purchased the app, and First User Group expects an iteration of this alarm clock app in the native iOS8.