Target Book is an analytics app for recreational target shooters. Our approach relied heavily on user research to flesh out the concept before settling on a direction. This increased flexibility and reduced the need for costly downstream pivots.
Trapmaster: The app we didn’t build.
One day John Lee and David Housman were at a shooting range when they observed that some participants were not recording their scores. They envisioned a trap scoring app that might help. They made some mocks and built a cheap low fidelity prototype in JQuery Mobile / PhoneGap.
From there we conducted primary research to validate the concept. The team interviewed shooters at trap, skeet, and sporting clay venues. After each outing, the concept was adjusted and re-evaluated at the next opportunity.
- Contextual Inquiry
- Sunnyvale Rod and Gun Club, Cupertino, CA
- Los Altos Rod and Gun Club, Los Gatos, CA
- Coyote Valley Sporting Clays, Morgan Hill, CA
- Frequent shooters exclusively care about their scores recorded by trap shooting associations, such as the Amateur Trap Association, which affected tournament seeding.
- A majority felt that the existing tools for score keeping were sufficient.
- Some raised concerns about lack of network access at shooting ranges and that some shooters are “technophobes”.
- Trap shooters that primarily shoot “for fun” showed little interest in score keeping.
A scoring app for clay pigeon shooting wasn’t viable.
We pivoted to target shooting. Secondary research indicated that compared to clay pigeon shooters, target shooters were younger, and more likely to own a smart phone. The target shooting market segment was much larger than the clay pigeon shooting segment.
We implemented prototype TriggerTally in June 2014. TriggerTally was used in validation interviews to inform feature prioritization.
We looked further into this area:
- Online, oral, and tablet surveys
- Discovery, Validation, unstructured Interviews
- Vallejo Gun Show, Vallejo, CA
- Sacramento Gun Show, Sacramento, CA
- Bay Area Gun Vault, Mountain View, CA
- Sunnyvale Rod and Gun Club, Sunnyvale, CA
- Recreational shooters desire feedback on their shooting accuracy.
- Paper targets are accurate and immediate, but cannot be aggregated. It is difficult for shooters to trend their performance over time.
- Due to limited feedback, shooters may not recognize that improvement has occurred.
- Many shooters described a need to share their shooting performance with their friends.
- Some shooters wished to access target data after a shooting session has ended.
The team evaluated the market to assess the positioning, strengths, and weaknesses of competitors. Competing target shooting apps focused on competitive shooting, ignoring recreational shooters. We decided to focus on the needs of recreational shooters. Target Book would have a fast, simple input interaction, and rely on social sharing to drive adoption. Down the road we hoped to differentiate on advanced data entry and analytics, and counted on target histories to generate lock in.
After receiving some interest from the shooting community, David made the decision to move forward with the project. Collaborating with designer and school chum Pablo Quinones, David Housman wrote a PRD outlining Target Book’s functionality.
After collecting bids for the project on oDesk, David slashed the MVP scope to stay within budget and focus on answering specific questions about the product. David, Pablo, and an offshore developer in India worked together to build out the product. The app was implemented in Objective C, which had a greater flexibility to support advanced data entry. Flurry was selected to be the analytics platform for the app.
Target Book hit the App store in 2014. Validation interviews showed promise, however after conducting a price sensitivity assessment, it was clear that app would not be able to generate sufficient revenue to support further development. The project was put to pasture in 2015, but is still available for purchase on the app store.
This project failed fast, cheap and for the right reasons: due to factors that we could not assess before building the app. Despite validation feedback, we had no way of telling how people would actually respond to the app until they were exposed to it in real life and were making real life decisions about it.