Over the next three to four years, more than 2 billion people are expected to become smartphone users. For those whose phones are their only computer, a new Microsoft Garage app, Sprightly, can help them quickly create digital content for their business and personal needs.
For example, small and medium-size businesses that need to organize and share product images quickly with their customers can use Sprightly to make flyers, catalogs, price lists and e-card reminders – all on their phones.
This free Android app makes it easy to create professional-looking content on a mobile device, share it on WhatsApp and Facebook and re-use already-existing content, such as photographs. Users can also choose from templates, with more coming.
“Sprightly is quite unique in its creation flow, choice of output and the ability to quickly recycle existing content to create new ones,” says Mahesh Sridharan, a senior program manager at Microsoft and one of the team leaders on this project. “There are choices that the user makes while creating content that results in a highly customized output that addresses specific needs of the market.”
Sridharan’s team conducted several studies with a mobile-only demographic and found specific needs: to be able to look professional, use minimal effort and reach many people on their network – using just their phone.
“Our in-depth study definitely has led us down this path,” Sridharan says. “We have continually explored designs and shared with our target audience to get a feel for this space. It’s this research and exploration that has helped us give direction to this app.”
Sridharan says one of the team’s “aha” moments came when they went out in the field and talked directly to businesses.
“We noticed that they connected with their customers on WhatsApp. One of their daily actions was picking tons of images and adding product descriptions. They kept doing that over and over again,” Sridharan says. “Their motivation was that those images and descriptions brought in more traffic and money. In many cases, they were willing to pay small design studios to get professional-looking content to showcase their products. It was striking to see how they conducted their business and what mattered most to them: communicating value to customers quickly and looking good at the same time.”
Understanding this target demographic and its needs was the team’s biggest challenge, Sridharan says.
“We really had to get into the mindset of this customer. Defining what content creation meant for them meant several experiments, user studies and prototypes,” Sridharan says.
While small and medium-sized businesses are one demographic that aligns well with the app, the Sprightly team thinks the app can scale to other businesses that cater to consumers.
The team also recently launched the Connections app.
The team tapped into the Garage’s resources to make Sprightly come to life. The Garage is the outlet for Microsoft teams and individuals around the world to share experimental apps and projects with customers for early feedback.
“The Garage gave us a great umbrella to quickly launch the application,” says Arun Rajappa, the group principal program manager who helped lead the project. “We received support to make Sprightly ship ready, covering the bases needed to make our app complete and safe to release externally.”
For this team, the Garage amplifies Microsoft’s continuing commitment to innovation.
“It’s a great medium to experiment. No idea is too small or way out there,” Rajappa says.
Microsoft News Center Staff