Meet the parents.
Strajillion is a social media monitoring company founded by two dads who wanted to keep an eye on their kids’ use of technology. Did we mention they also happen to be ex intelligence and network security officers for the feds? It’s like a Ben Stiller movie come to life.
Tapping into the duo’s techy background, the company was founded on a promising technology that they thought would keep their children safer on social media. But a great technology doesn’t guarantee a successful product.
With a saturated market for parental control tools and the desire to create something groundbreaking, Strajillion hired Sliced Bread to help create the first collaborative digital parenting app that gives kids the space to express themselves without spying on their every post.
“The work that Sliced Bread did for us is one of our key competitive advantages. In addition to a great design for our product, they gave us deep insight into our users that has been the foundation for our sales and marketing.”
– Karl MacMillan, Chief Technology Officer
The wrong tools for the right job
You know that feeling you get when something is wrong but you don’t know how to fix the problem? That’s the same feeling parents across the country have when it comes to their kids using social tech. They’re terrified of the very real risks facing their children online but don’t have time to monitor every single platform and post. Plus, no one wants to look like a spy.
The existing parental control tools weren’t providing any good solutions, but our research found a glimmer of hope. Our interviews uncovered how a few families came up with some novel informal ways to monitor social posts in cooperation with their kids instead of spying on them. Collaborative monitoring…now we’re getting somewhere.
Big brother and the texting company
In order to test out our hypothesis about collaborative monitoring, we had to be a bit, well, sneaky. First, we sketched up how a mobile app might work. Then we used group chat rooms in Slack to send both parents and kids messages about their social media use. But here’s the sneaky bit: Sliced Bread’s staff would act as the “man behind the curtain” to manually review the kiddo’s posts, then send out alerts regarding any questionable content to both groups.
We figured that this experiment would work just enough like the real system we envisioned that we could test it with real families.
Sit down, Billy. We need to chat.
We recruited a bunch of families to participate in our “Wizard of Oz”-style experiment. For one week, we manually monitored kids’ social media accounts and sent alerts about the content to both the parents and children using the Slack chats. Afterwards, we interviewed the families about their experience and also showed them our rough design concepts for feedback.
Turns out, parents loved our concept - especially the collaboration and transparency of the tool. And the kids? Well, about half of them liked it. And the other half, who would rather their parents didn’t exist anyway, at least liked it better than parent-only tools.
Getting kids and parents on the same page
As we do after we validate our hypothesis, we then turned our attention to the design. A few more rounds of prototyping and user testing helped us nail down what was what, including:
- Push notifications about flagged content, so parents didn’t have to constantly monitor everything
- A child version of the app so kids could see the exact same messages the app was sending to their parents
- An in-app chat system for parents and kids to discuss the questionable items
For the look, we felt less would be more. The visual design was minimal and usability-focused, allowing the app to highlight the content it pulls from social media for review.
- Helped a startup with interesting technology identify a promising market opportunity.
- Strajillion has received another round of funding, launched a private Beta and gotten great publicity.