Imagine if there were an app that helped you find murals by giving you the exact location, the artist who created it and gave an introduction to the person behind it. CANVS does that for you with the murals in Jersey City. The app started out with Ralph Andre (Design/UX) and Daniel Panzer (Development). Stephen Clark (UX/Strategy) joined this past summer. These three have been working at making this app user friendly, reliable and engaging. Each mural page not only has a description attached but also allows you to share the murals found on different platforms. This app should be integrated into every art enthusiast's life. How were the app features decided? “It’s all about giving users what they want. We did our share of research and learned a lot about how people really feel about street art. People want to know where to find the art and learn more about the art/artist. Addressing those basic needs was a good start.”
Working a 9 to 5 while working on your dreams is something many of us are very familiar with and have become accustomed to. This has been in the works for some time but making sure everything is functioning the way you want it to requires patience. “I started designing the app around February 2015, the development process January 2016. It’s hard when you have a 9-5.” This app is a great addition to everyday lives because it gives a unique connection between the artists, their current audience and future audience members. It’s bridging a gap that’s a bit hard to fill. “It feels really fulfilling. It’s important for us as innovators to produce things that have IMPACT and PURPOSE. I have so much respect for these artists and CANVS is my way of sharing their work and stories. So many people want to know the story behind these murals and they don’t know where to find it. It’s great to know that we’re giving people what they want.”
Meet Ralph Andre and the team behind CANVS
I downloaded the app and it’s very interactive. It lets you keep track of what you’ve already seen and how many people have already seen it. How long did it take to put this together?
Ralph Andre: That’s definitely a Dan question. He’s a genius when it comes to the code. The Seen/Favorites/Bookmarks feature is important because it’s our way of keeping track of a mural’s status. Currently, a mural’s popularity is based on a survey sent out to different beta testers during pre-launch. In an update we have coming in December, the mural popularity will be directly based on how many people favorited the particular mural. This is cool because it’s gonna be YOU who determine a mural’s popularity.
The app helps users keep track of what murals have already been seen. I haven’t come across something like this. There’s a lot of interaction involved and it also has a map attached to it. What would you say are the goals of this app?
RA: The ability to mark the murals as seen is huge because it motivates users to go and visit these murals in-person. The app also tells you how many percent of murals you’ve seen in a particular city!
What was the hardest part of putting this app together?
RA: All of the content on the app is curated by us so finding the murals, taking high quality photos, and gathering the details was pretty time consuming. Also, a lot of those UX discussions were pretty mind draining. You can’t please every user, so that’s what we had to come to grips with. Fortunately, we still have something pretty damn slick.
There are murals here from all over Jersey City. How long did it take track each piece down?
RA: It’s taken several months. Street art is such a come-and-go thing. Your favorite mural can be taken down at any given point so tracking murals down is sort of a constant. I’m a Jersey City native, I know the city like the back of my hand so it made it a lot easier.
Going back to the beginning, would there be anything changed?
RA: Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything I would’ve done differently. This has been an amazing journey and I made some great friends along the way. I have a great partnership with Dan and Steve who are also part of the Mean Genius Network (www.meangenius.com). I'm really excited about the future plans we have for CANVS. This is only the beginning!
Is there anything you'd like to add?
RA: For anyone out there who wants to create something impactful. All you have to do is DO IT. Don’t let the limitations hold you back. Surround yourself with inspirational people, stay hungry, be open-minded and you’ll get further than you’ll ever imagine. Most importantly, always help the younger generation.
Open your phones, download CANVS and get to exploring. As of 11/14/16, there are 99 murals to see.
Photos courtesy of Site