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Building an interactive digital learning platform to capture 35 years of childcare expertise

Cute BumbleBee.

Unleashing potential

Busy Bees is one of the largest and most renowned childcare providers. Their mission is to give every child in their care the best start in life. Employing 10,000 practitioners in the UK alone, they deliver learning to over 40,000 children every day. Busy Bees had a vision for a tool that could be used across the business to deliver a world-class learning and development experience for the children in their care. That vision became UP - an interactive digital platform designed to unleash the potential of parents, practitioners, and children.

Defining the platform

Busy Bees came to 383 after struggling to find the right partner to bring their vision and brand to life. They didn't just want an off-the-shelf solution with their logo stuck in the corner, as other suppliers had offered. They wanted a bespoke experience that would look and feel uniquely Busy Bees, upholding and enhancing their high standards of care.

The Busy Bees App app mockup.

Getting started

To fulfil this brief, we knew we needed to develop a deep understanding of both the business and the end users. The project started with an immersion session, a series of interviews, and dedicated focus groups, where we spoke to stakeholders, nursery managers, practitioners and parents. We used the Jobs to be Done framework to help us uncover user needs, frictions and anxieties, creating a clear picture of the problems that this platform could solve. From here, we designed a value proposition and a product roadmap for UP.

Some sketching and team shots.

Developing the prototype

We identified several considerations that needed to be front of mind during our ideation and prototyping. - The platform should be designed to enhance the face-to-face interactions between parents or practitioners and children, not replace them. - Interactions needed to be as secure as possible, without slowing down or getting in the way of activities - Visibility of content on the platform needed to be controlled centrally, at a granular level

The design team deep in work.

Horizon planning

Features were divided into horizons, and developed in an agile way through iterative design and product sprints. The resulting UP platform consists of a web app, native app and API. The iOS and Android applications provide a rich library of content covering audio, video and interactive experience, available for both parents and practitioners. A bespoke, secure CMS allows Busy Bees to manage and add content and features. And, most importantly, the platform provides Busy Bees with a future-proofed solution that can be scaled internationally.

The 'Experiences' screen.

Launching UP

UP was launched at the annual manager celebration, where the team were immediately able to see it in action and start interacting with it on tablets around the room - no setup or training required. UP has had a transformational effect on Busy Bees practitioners, helping them further their professional development by sharing knowledge across the group.

Cluster shot of the various screens from the Busy Bees app, UP!
A Father using the app with their child.
A collection of the app components.Cute BumbleBee.

I can't recommend 383 highly enough. They understood us and our needs immediately, and adopted our language and terminology within our first meeting. Everyone at 383 is approachable and friendly, they do what they say they will do and often go the extra mile. Their ideas and creative approach to all aspects of their business sets them apart.

Yvonne Smillie, Busy Bees
Yvonne Smillie
Deputy Chief Academic Officer
Job Done

Meet UP

Since launching in June 2019, UP has generated 1.2 million content views, with 10,000 parent downloads in the first two weeks and a five star rating in the app store. And for a few glorious hours, UP was higher than Peppa Pig in the educational app charts. Beyond the stats and the numbers, it's had a real impact on the parents and children in the care of Busy Bees - such as one Dad whose nightmare bath times have been transformed by the activities available on UP. Thanks to UP, it is no longer traumatic to wash his daughters hair at night. That is life changing.

Meet the final UP app for Busy bees.

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