tourist using the Step apptourist using the Step app

travel & leisure

Step Your World: A travel mobile app that allows users to discover, save and share the richest travel tips

Mobile app for city exploration

Step Your World is a social media app for travellers, making it easier to map out, share and discover the best city attractions from all over the world. A travel guide for the younger generation founded by Robyn Nicholl and Rachel Rockowitz, childhood friends-turned-business partners, Step Your World uses the power of social media, peer-to-peer (P2P) recommendations, and maps to reinvent the city exploration experience.

Step users can follow in the creators’ footsteps to discover new destinations or create their own mini-guides to hidden city gems. This very successful start-up has revolutionised the entertainment and travel industry less than two months after its release. Learn how we supported this project, from the workshop stage through design, development, and analytics, to scaling the ready digital product.

step prologue

#1

App Store’s App of the Day

5.0

Rating on the App Store

Challenges

Complex MVP idea

Step was born out of the feeling that despite the immense offer of social and travel apps, the market still lacked a product designed explicitly for Generation Z. The start-up founders faced the challenge of reconciling the dream of a high-quality product with business and strategic goals. Step’s founders reached out to Miquido to create the MVP of the first-ever mobile app based on the exchange of map-based P2P recommendations. However, it quickly turned out that the idea backlog was too big for the MVP standards and required reorganisation.

Reconciling UX principles with artistic flair

The already-existent coherent branding, precise product vision, and ready low-fidelity prototypes provided by the clients testified to the high maturity of the business idea. However, reconciling UX principles with the urge to create a beautiful app that takes inspiration from contemporary design, and is appealing to millennial audiences, took a lot of work.

Challenging map implementation

In social media applications, maps are a nice add-on: they make a user’s life easier. The uniqueness of Step lies in mini guides applied directly to maps – allowing users to explore a specific city region or follow in the footsteps of their favourite content creators. Implementing this kind of unprecedented mapping experience into a social media app was challenging. It required blazing new trails in both legal and technical aspects, such as ensuring valid caching policies or choosing the right map provider.

step challenges

Solution

The main task for Miquido was delivering MVP of iOS and backend applications that would evoke a map-driven social experience. Soon after entering the British market, the social media start-up wanted to upgrade the MVP to a mobile application enabling exploration of all the most significant cultural centres worldwide – such as Paris, Rome, Montreal, Las Vegas, Beirut and Tokyo. Therefore, transparent technical documentation, high-quality code, and addressing the matter of technical debt were crucial for further scaling.

step solution
step solution

To meet the challenge of delivering a high-end mobile application for a specific target audience, the Miquido team suggested writing a native iOS app from scratch in Swift. Our backend developers chose the cross-platform Node.js environment and Nest.js framework that perfectly correlate with the MVP needs due to:

  • The emphasis on TypeScript, which provides static typing and ensures a robust codebase
  • A rich selection of libraries and extensions to speed up development
  • The modularised monolith architecture, where multiple independent components are focused on different sides of business logic and can be easily split into microservices or separate instances
  • Smooth development experience, resulting in rapid feature delivery

Functionalities

Step is a unique combination of social media and travel apps. Therefore, our UX design team recommended MVP features that combine all the essential advantages of applications such as Tripadvisor and Instagram, including:

  • Fast account creation via e-mail, Apple, Facebook and Google
  • Seamless user onboarding, covering essential data collection
  • Real-time activity feed showing all the actions performed by followers
  • Personalised content recommendations, based on the location of the user
  • Exploration of Points of Interest through multiple perspectives (e.g. of users or their followers)
  • Notifications, including in–app notifications to inform users about new Step members, followers, or their friends’ steps.
step functionalities

Product Analytics

In addition to the functionalities above, the implementation of product analytics is also crucial for social media apps. The Miquido data science team recommended implementing Firebase Analytics: the SDK that automatically captures predefined events and user properties. We also added Google Analytics integration for monitoring user behaviour – to ensure the client can observe critical trends and quickly iterate their product.

step product analytics

Services & tech stack

icon 01icon 02icon 03

iOS development

Apollo
GraphQL
Swift

Node.js development

Typescript
Nest
GraphQL
PostgresQL
Docker
AWS

UX & UI Design

Data Science

Process

Phase 1: Workshops

Outcomes: MVP definition, backlog creation, planning the project budget & timeline

With the key question of reconciling the online and offline worlds in mind, our cooperation began with a two-day MVP workshop with clients. We prioritised our actions and chose the most critical contact points between the real world and social media – to ensure a cohesive, operational, and successful MVP.

During the MVP workshop, our design and development experts helped clients to translate user needs into app functionalities, defined the scope of obligatory backend work, specified must and nice-to-have features, and planned the project budget and timeline.

Well-conducted client workshops should allow for the definition of the MVP, which brings the potential for further scaling, while developing the app faster, cheaper, and more efficiently. And that was exactly the story of Step. Robyn and Rachel knew everything about their users, so scoping and defining the core functionalities’ range went as smoothly as possible. And as you can see, at the MVP stage it already translated into a captivating, complete product with everything users might expect from a social media app.

Mike Henslok, Senior Project Manager at Miquido

WEBSITE – LANDING PAGEAPPLICATION – SIGN UP
Sign up for the invitationSign up screen with two options: sign up for waiting list or sign in via referral code
Ticker – counter for sign ups
Link to the storesForgot password option
Responsive Web DesignTerms & conditions and GDPR compliant information
WEBSITE – LANDING PAGE
Sign up for the invitation
Ticker – counter for sign ups
Link to the stores
Responsive Web Design
Email templates
Web module for generating and displaying previews of the steps

Phase 2: Design

Outcomes: iOS mockups for all must-have features – ready for design handoff

The Miquido team delivered wireframes of all MVP features in just two weeks, ensuring they met the high client requirements, were intuitive and user-centric. Over the next few months, our UX/UI designers took care of preparing high-fidelity prototypes for iOS devices – ready for design handoff. They refined the application’s features by introducing sliders in the navigation bar to ensure smooth user onboarding, adding personalised, location-based content recommendations for new users, and improving the Points of Interest exploration experience.

The start-up founders deeply cared about the high quality of recommendations and the freedom from unnecessary “social buzz”. Our key goals were ensuring a flawless categorisation method for places marked in Step and developing a well-thought user interaction system based on followers-only content. Last but not least, we implemented an intuitive system for reporting inappropriate content.

step process
process mobile 01
process image 02
process mobile 03
process mobile 04

Phase 3: Development

Outcomes: delivering MVP of iOS & backend mobile applications

In the development phase, our goal was to build an MVP that could be scaled easily. The clients decided to start by carrying out a proof-of-concept on a critical user segment, so we focused on developing a refined native iOS application. Addressing the key MVP values (including development speed and efficiency, app performance, or modularised architecture), we decided on the Nest.js framework on the backend side. Also, our Node.js team took care of developing solutions that would later become the heart of Step’s map-based experience.

Delivering a map-based mobile application

Choosing the right map provider, considering all legal issues related to data caching, securing flawless performance from the backend development side… While developing Step — a mobile application based on city mapping – we faced many challenges from the convergence of technology, law, and business. One thing is certain: we went off the beaten track. Miquido, as one of just a few software development houses in the world, knows what to ask, where to look for solutions and how to plan work so that the client receives exactly what he expects regarding location and map-based mobile applications.

step process 03

Making managing a complex environment easier

The backend application was deployed in a containerised environment in AWS ECS. This approach allowed us to spin additional instances to provide failover and create an autoscaling definition, which guaranteed great application performance, even in high traffic. The elasticity of this runtime allowed us to split parts of the application and delegate them to tackle some operations outside the servers handling app traffic – as a standalone, smaller instances focused on processing asynchronous tasks from queues.

Relying on Amazon Web Services allowed our backend team to benefit from an excellent selection of AWS solutions. With AWS Personalize, we quickly implemented a recommendation system for providing location, follower, and browsing history-based suggestions. The model developed with AWS was trained with anonymised data, representing the relations between users and places.

On the data layer, we needed a solution that provides capabilities to handle and calculate geospatial information. Given our experience with relational databases, we’ve decided to go with widely used PostgreSQL as a database with PostGIS extension. The Geographic Information System (GIS) gave us tools to query and filter based on proximity to a selected geographic location, calculate distances, cluster points within range, and select places only within the bounding box (such as the map the user currently sees on their screen).

Andrzej Maleszewski, Senior Node.js Developer at Miquido

Phase 4: Scaling and further application development

Outcomes: Refining existing features

After a successful launch in April 2021, Step became an immediate commercial success. It could not have been otherwise – the app was constantly refined in the spirit of data-driven and user-centric application development even before the official release. Usability testing performed on target groups and funnel analysis of different registration methods allowed us to identify and eliminate registration process bottlenecks. Simplifying the profile-building process (e.g. by reducing form fields or using autosuggestion) resulted in up to a 6.5% decrease in the registration drop-off – meaning that 95% of user profiles are now built successfully.

6.5% might seem a little – but it is quite a lot in data analytics. Imagine a product where 100,000 users start the registration process. A 6.5% increase means 6,500 more application users! If those users chose the cheapest 1-year subscription (for example 7.99$/month), it would equal 51,935$ monthly increase in profits – hence, a 624,000$ rise in annual profits!

Karolina Holewa, Data Scientist at Miquido

The Miquido team undoubtedly knows the significance of making knowledge-based decisions in business. Miquido recommended implementing analytical tools to collect data when we launched our app – having access to these tools allowed us to make data-driven answers and get to know our users’ behaviour. We used this information to move quickly and iterate the product.

Robyn Nicholl, Step Your World Co-Founder

Victory sign

Results

2021 App of the day
on App Store

Imagine a mobile app that combines Tripadvisor, Google Maps, and Instagram. Now remove every unnecessary feature, add an expressive typography-based design, and gather a group of users exactly in your mindset. Step is a mobile application unlike any other – born out of the world of mass culture and social media while also standing out through an extraordinary design, map-based experiences, and a community of young and cultured creators. Even though the application development process was demanding, it brought the expected results. As a result, Step quickly became a leader in the social media start-up market.

After a few months of delay in the application release due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Step was successfully published in 2021 and immediately gathered positive feedback from the first users. It quickly turned out that the first-ever culture mapping tool perfectly fits into the post-pandemic, digitised reality. And most importantly, thanks to effective backend development and design on the part of Miquido, it met the high requirements related to the performance and usability of social applications.

Want to talk about your project?

Aleksandra Latoń

Hi, I’m Aleksandra from Miquido. Fill in the form to the right and I’ll get in touch with you shortly!

The administrator of your personal data is Miquido sp. z o.o. sp.k., with its registered office in Kraków at Zabłocie 43A, 30 – 701. We process provided information in order to answer your questions, contact you and conduct business communication. The basis for the processing of your data is your consent and Miquido’s legitimate interest.
You may withdraw your consent at any time by contacting us at marketing@miquido.com. You have the right to object, the right to access your data, the right to request rectification, deletion or restriction of data processing. For detailed information on the processing of your personal data, please see Privacy Policy.

more