Startups

I-SITE’s recipe for success after 50,000 downloads of its educational, not angry, birds app

What does it take to receive more than 50,000 downloads in Apple’s App Store with an education app dedicated to ornithology? Sometimes, that kind of success is about a firm’s ability to be flexibile when projects don’t go exactly as planned. Though an original pitch to an educational institution for a bird-watching app didn’t pan […]


What does it take to receive more than 50,000 downloads in Apple’s App Store with an education app dedicated to ornithology?
Sometimes, that kind of success is about a firm’s ability to be flexibile when projects don’t go exactly as planned.
Though an original pitch to an educational institution for a bird-watching app didn’t pan out, it gave Old City-based interactive firm I-SITE a chance to show off its iOS and Android development chops and to approach a new partner.
So it is that this summer, I-SITE and Iridescent Learning, a science education nonprofit, launched Build A Bird for iOS and Android, a free game that teaches children about bird science and ecology.
The app — which lets kids “build” flying creatures with a touch of physics for good measure — was even featured in Apple’s App Store, owing to the bump in downloads. The bird angle — considering the success of Angry Birds — surely didn’t hurt traffic.

Producer Jon Gross, who also contributed user interface and user experience expertise to the project, says that the concept was molded in Flash and then ported to iOS and Android devices using Adobe Flash Builder and Adobe AIR.
After that, success was all about good marketing.
The I-SITE team, made up of seven full-time employees and which fluxuates to a dozen or more when bigger projects come along, works with clients like The Downtown Lower Manhattan Alliance and Deloitte. These consulting projects have helped the organization learn about how to market their products, partnerships and client work, especially having developed a following of its own. It’s also given the company a clearer vision for how to delegate and decide on new projects.
The company splits its work among client, educational and nonprofit projects, like Build A Bird and iGorrilla, an app dedicated to informing people about Africa’s endangered mountain gorilla.
Gross says that I-SITE has four or five regular, major pharmaceutical clients that enable it work on the more altruistic projects on the side.
“We like to focus on anything that can help communities, whether local or in Africa. That’s our passion,” he says.
More about Iridescent, below.
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