A New Angle on Fishing
In their combined 30 years of recreational fly fishing, anglers Brad Franklin and Jeff Brobst have spent a lot of time researching waters, planning travel, and finding resources. This is the specialized knowledge that makes for successful fishing, and they knew if they could create an app to document that information, record their own fishing histories, and connect with other anglers, they would be filling a void in the market.
Their goal with PocketWaters was to bring an MVP app to the market that would enable fly anglers to locate fishing spots via location-based services; add angler reports for rivers and streams; connect with retailers, guides, and instruction; journal their angling activity; and share and connect with the fly fishing community in order to increase their success and enhance their enjoyment of angling. We helped lay the foundation for this platform, bringing to market key components that would provide PocketWaters with initial user engagement, content availability, and the functionality to help them build out their long-term roadmap toward monetization.
UX / UI Design
A Phased Approach
To get their MVP app to market, MentorMate worked with PocketWaters on a two-phase approach. In phase one, the app needed to be able to aggregate and present stream-fishing data organized primarily by river or stream. Running the app depends on data that comes from multiple sources in disparate formats, and that varies considerably from one state to the next. We built it to use an API back to a GIS that enables a standardized presentation of data and gives the user tools to navigate across all of that information in a streamlined, easy, and enjoyable way. For instance, users can interact with maps to understand characteristics of a given stream, or dive into a page to get detailed information about that stream, such as conditions, local regulations, and pictures of what it looks like. Anglers can then add their own content so they can journal their experiences, plan trips, and keep track of important details. And of course, they will be able to connect with other anglers.
Phase one features will drive user engagement and market validation, while phase two will capitalize on that to connect users to industry-side providers, such as retailers, guides, or charter services. For instance, this phase will empower retail fly shops by offering a digital marketplace to fast-track their own online presence and expand their customer reach through the app’s hyper-local and personalized angler network.
Partnering for Success
PocketWaters started with a strong idea to fill a clear void in the market, but as a two-man team, they needed a product design and development partner. Our teams brought the PocketWaters idea to life by helping to define and prioritize its needs and creating a roadmap for achieving them. The design team worked closely with Brad and Jeff to gain a clear and actionable understanding of the desired user flows and outcomes for the app’s features and benefits. Thorough wireframing made it possible to picture each click, each individual step a user would take within the application as it was developed, allowing them to fine tune the experience as they went.
The development team wrangled the complexities of various data sources and formats into a fast-performing app for a seamless user experience. Daily standups and transparent communication kept everyone in the loop, and the team’s unique skill sets (including some of their own fishing knowledge and experience), made it easy to bounce ideas back and forth as they helped Brad and Jeff realize their vision and bring their passion to life.
MentorMate has been a key player in the PocketWaters story. “We look at this as a partnership,” says Brad. “We needed a development team in order for us to be successful. This isn’t just outsourcing some tasks; it’s a core part of our business.”
Challenges and Rewards
PocketWaters is a stronger app, not least because our team challenged some of the foundational assumptions of the original idea, proving (or disproving) design alternatives during the development process. We navigated the complex data inputs and produced a clear, intuitive output that anticipated and proactively addressed user needs and questions.
We maintained budget scope and helped PocketWaters avoid pitfalls by working to prioritize the tasks and features that would bring the greatest value, and by not thinking of the app as “just” an MVP. We collaborated closely with Brad and Jeff to deliver a unique and elegant solution that both met the current user needs and clearly mapped the app’s second phase.
Initial feedback from the PocketWaters network is positive, with users loving the design, the layout, the look and feel, and the simplicity of use; it’s ready to be released into the wild.