How to tell stories through the design of an app

David McClure | Flo-culture Graphic Design Partner |

Establishing the why?

In the early stages of design development for Alston Explorer, the creative team had determined the range of activities our users were going to participate with, the location of those interactions, and the types of content they would experience.

What we didn’t yet know was why they should participate – beyond proximity to the Alston area and awareness of the app itself.

Alston Explorer comprised two distinct strands of content:

  • 1. Information about Points of Interest in the area (POI)
    Presented as a mix of text, images, audio recordings and video content
  • 2. Interactive tasks
    Presented as a series of in-app activities and challenges which would reward the user with a point score, medals and trophies

Our research had determined that the app’s target audience was primarily families with young children (and pets!). The content from strand 1 would likely appeal most to adults while the interactive tasks in strand 2 would be the main attraction for younger app users.

How could we ensure that both strands where cohesive and appealing?

Welcome to Alston A.C.E.S (The Adventure Challenge and Exploration Society)

Our solution was to create context for the user experience through narrative.

Although not a story-based game, we created a simple background scenario to provide structural narrative for the user experience.

A.C.E.S. was an adventurers society, established in 1745. The Alston branch was searching for adventurous and inquisitive young people to help build and restore their archive of local knowledge and encourage exploration.

The Alston branch of A.C.E.S. was headed by Tassie Mapsalot; an adventurous young woman who would challenge our users with interactive tasks and present them with local information– alongside her trusty companion Fletcher Rouge – a red squirrel who would provide clues to our users and unwavering enthusiasm for knowledge.

We are proud to have these companies as our supporters and investors.

Creative England European Space Agency Northstar Ventures UK Research and Innovation