Developing a storytelling app for children led by user research


Nine Tales

Nine Tales is a startup focusing on helping children build emotional intelligence and learn life lessons together with their families through storytelling.

Project summary

Our Role

User Research

Alpha Testing

Beta Testing


Project Manager

UX/UI Designer

UX Researcher


1 year partnership

Project brief

Nine Tales is a Singapore-based startup that aims to help children build emotional intelligence through stories. In the process of designing and developing the app, our role in research was to find out:

  • How parents search for stories
  • What story genres are children interested in
  • If the app features were intuitive, enjoyable, and easy to use
  • How the app worked on real users
  • If there were any interesting findings from the user tests

Our approach

1. Initial user research

With all our projects at 55 Minutes, research comes first before design. Research informs and drives our design decisions, making it essential to our overall process. As Nine Tales’s target audience are parents and children, we talked to a group of parents with children ages 1-6 years old to search for answers to the following questions:

How do parents search and select stories for their child?

What are some story genres their children are interested in?

What insights can we mine from the children’s digital interactions? This is important as NineTales is a storytelling app, and we needed to find out if there were any interesting insights and challenges we’d need to take into consideration.

Initial user research findings

For parents:

  • Most of them selected stories based on the child’s interests. It also has to be age appropriate.
  • They tended to select stories based on recommendations from family and friends.
  • Half of those we interviewed valued stories with learning points. Other important aspects for considering stories include how interactive it is — if the story is fun and engaging, if it sparks conversations, and if there are resources or question prompts available in the story.

The interviews also informed us that children’s needs differ based on different age groups. For instance, children ages 1-3 are very dependent on their parents, hence storytelling solutions would have to be in a physical form where it allows children to utilise their senses — sight, hearing, and touch. For children ages 4-6, they require storytelling solutions that are engaging, and help to stimulate imagination and creativity.

From this initial research, we learned that the design of Nine Tales should take the following into consideration:

  1. Emphasise and create stories on values and learning points, as parents value storytelling as a way to teach life lessons to children.
  2. Features in the app to tailor to target children of different age groups, as they have differing needs.

2. Alpha test

We designed a prototype to validate that certain features and functionalities would indeed be useful for the users by testing these key parameters:

  • Would assigning characters in stories be enjoyable and easy to use?
  • How would the different recording user flows (assigning of characters, round-robin, and recording on your own) work on different stories?
  • Would recording a story be intuitive and enjoyable?
  • Are there initial bugs and issues we should be aware of?

With the prototype, we conducted an alpha test to determine if improvements were necessary for the UX and UI designs.

The findings from the alpha test informed us of the following:

  • 100% agreed that assigning characters was fun!
  • 67% of the testers found it easy to record for the first time, and 100% agreed that it gets easier the second time onwards.
  • 91% of the testers found the process of recording stories enjoyable.

We also tweaked and added some features to elevate the whole Nine Tales experience. Some improvements we made after the alpha test:

  1. Making assignments viewable to all family members, since the feature of assigning characters was a hit.
  2. Introduce a “Recording in Progress” section on Home Page.
  3. Introduce a step-by-step tutorial for users recording a story for the first time.

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