We’ve been working quietly away for a few months in the Papertank office on an exciting and ambitious new project – worldwalking.org
The project in three words - social virtual walking. To expand, the World Walking platform offers a simple, free and fun way to help you keep active, either individually or as a group. You clock the steps/miles you walk in the real world and the website/app overlays the accumulated distance on a virtual route, thus making your daily commute or gym workout more interesting.
Cue pre-prepared marketing paragraphs:
World Walking has been designed simply to motivate by putting the fun back in fitness to help you reap the benefits of a healthier, active lifestyle.
There are many upshots to getting up and about, including reducing your risk of heart disease and helping you keep to a healthy weight and shape; but a positive attitude and a little spirit of adventure can work wonders too!
If you have the determination, World Walking has the perfect virtual walk for you; from taking in the sights of top cities to trekking across a continent. Visit the places you’ve always wanted to see. Packed with facts and photos, the World Walking app allows you look and learn as you explore.
The idea for World Walking came from a local Scottish walking group – the Inverclyde Globetrotters, lead by their chairman Duncan Galbraith. We were lucky to work with such a lovely, enthusiastic client who was very much on board with the project from the beginning and allowed Papertank the creative freedom to exercise our own design and development skills.
This project was another good opportunity to expand our iPhone app portfolio and work closely with our friend and office neighbour Michael Park. Michael’s top-notch development skills have really made this project what it is.
For those interested, the main functionality of World Walking is:
- Join any of our 28 (and growing number of) virtual walks from around the World – from the Scottish Highlands to the Great Wall of China.
- ‘See’ the world – each of our virtual walks have milestones you reach with photos, more information and links to other useful websites.
- Go it alone as a solo walker or create/join a group (family, friends, community / health group). Group’s can chat with one another online, upload/view photos and collaborate on larger virtual walks.
- Connect with Facebook rather than creating another login, then optionally share your walk progress with friends on your profile.
- Track your progress – manually type your steps/meters/miles into the website or use our iPhone app’s GPS feature to track the distance, altitude and time of your actual walks.
- Achievements and Awards – There are 20 awards and achievements to unlock, from creating your own group to reaching Mount Etna. Collect a flag from each country you visit too.
- Push Notifications – keep up-to-date with your group’s progress using our iPhone app and the built-in notification features.
Design wise, judging the audience of the website and app led us to create a user interface and overall design that was simple and fun, but exciting and interactive. We think we got the balance right – but welcome any and all feedback.
Technically speaking, the project was an interesting challenge. The foundations (server-side) of the website use the powerful Laravel framework. Finally, some stats – our website git repository on launch has 716 commits over 5 branches with 35661 lines of app code and 463748 lines of framework/library code.
As one of the largest websites we’ve built, scaling for demand was always on our mind. The code has been re-factored various times, caching has been used and we work with a few companies to keep the website running. Sentry (error logging) and Iron.io (message queuing) both gave us free non-profit accounts – thanks for that!
The project was funded by the Globetrotters, Awards for All Scotland lottery funds, and health initiative funding from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, Paths for All and the Scottish Government – it has been a pleasure to be involved with all these wonderful initiatives and charities.
Above all, the client seems happy:
We chose Papertank because, from the first time we met them to talk about our idea, they just felt right. They are a team that will not just give you exactly what you ask for in your brief (and am I glad!), but they will think about what you’re trying to achieve and strive to make the final product as good as it can be. And, most importantly, a team that will deliver. Please do yourself a favour and get in touch with Papertank – you’ll not regret it!
Duncan Galbraith, Founder of World Walking
There are already plans for the next phase of World Walking and we are really looking forward to being involved.
Send us any feedback on the website or iPhone app, and above all - keeeeeeeep walking!