Wreck This App

Platform: iOS & Android devices

Client: Penguin Books USA

Development: Initial release 2011, updates 2012-2014

Background: Wreck This App is an interactive adaptation of Keri Smith’s acclaimed book Wreck This Journal. It includes digital specific prompts to inspire users to create and destroy with their electronic journal.

The app replicates the format of the book, with the user able to navigate between pages in the journal.

An interactive tool was produced allowing the user to draw or write in the pages of the journal. The user is able to select a brush, change the thickness of the brush and the colour of the ink, copy and paste images and share their work.

App Store Description: With Wreck This App, you’ll tap into your creative side in an entirely new way: by exploring your best mess-making and destructive abilities. Guided by more than 50 prompts and using a spectrum of drawing tools, you can tap “holes” through the screen, “Drip” different inks, and then smear them all together, deface your least favorite picture of yourself, scribble furiously, color outside of the lines! And when you’ve wrecked your app, you can post evidence of your creative destruction on Facebook, Twitter or Flickr!

Recognition: The Citrus Suite developed Wreck This App reached number 1 in the UK iTunes entertainment chart and number 2 in the US. Wreck This App voted best digital product of 2011 at the Penguin Group (USA)’s Third Annual David Awards. See a summary of quotes and reviews here.

Peter Meyers, author of “Breaking the Page: Transforming Books and the Reading Experience”, highlights Wreck This App as “an eBook app done right”.

At SXSW Peter Meyers recommended Wreck This App for iOS as example of an eBook that invites the reader to participate in its creation. Peter Meyers’s website A New Kind Of Book is right on the pulse of developments in eBooks and details innovations in the genre.

The app has even had a mention in O, the Oprah Winfrey magazine and been nominated best non-fiction app at Digital Book World Conference in New York January 2012.

How we ended up working on award winning Wreck This App with Penguin Books US by Citrus Suite Creative Director Steve Donovan. 

So way back 2010 Chris (Citrus Suite director / designer) was in Urban Outfitters in Liverpool city centre and he noticed a crowd of teenagers stood at a book stand, laughing and pointing. Chris, not one to being left out, went over to look at what the kids were gathered around. The book was Wreck This Journal, by Keri Smith, an author he knew from the brilliant activity book How To Be an Explorer of the World.

Chris went home, wrote an email to Keri, gave a little background to our new creative studio Citrus Suite, stated her books would make great apps. Chris wrote that he wanted the next collaborative project we worked on to be remarkable. And fun for all involved.

The email connected with Keri who wrote back that evening. She and all of us at Citrus, believe the universe brought us together. At that time Keri’s publisher were looking to a large digital agency in the States to come up with a creative vision for the app version of Wreck This Journal, but Wreck This App was born as ‘Team Keri’ came together.  Citrus were introduced to the fabulous gang at Penguin Books US – Katherine, Meg and Meredith – and then then co-creation began.

It was the start of a great relationship with Penguin US and not only did we go on to create ‘Wreck this App’,  ‘This Is Not An App’ and ‘Pocket Scavenger ‘ for Team Keri but also other award nominated & award winning apps, such as Chopsticks.

Right from the start we understood that Wreck This App had to give the users a unique and playful digital experience, to measure up to the book. We worked very closely over the next couple of months with Keri and the Penguin team, delivering the app ahead of schedule.  When Wreck This App was originally released in June 2011 we were thrilled with how well received it was and happy for its success for Keri and Penguin.

Since 2011 there have been a few changes on Team Keri; Katherine moved on and John became our lead point of contact with Molly also doing a great job.

In early 2014 Citrus had just completed Colouring for Grown-ups and John from Penguin gave us a call. Keri was releasing another book and wouldn’t it be great if we did an update to Wreck This App.

We had talked about this a couple of times; we had done a minor update, included some new pages from Keri and added a few minor features. When we had talked previously we had all agreed that unless there was a substantial update there’d be no point because it was pretty much a great app already.  We started throwing around a couple of ideas during the call and we realised that the stuff that was being mentioned was quite a substantial update. And we were completely sold on the idea. We couldn’t wait to get started.

As always we worked closely with the guys in the US, Molly being our lead contact. We were soon throwing ideas around for new tools, new user interface and enhanced user experience with more emphasis on sharing.

When creating the update we were also very aware of not upsetting existing fans of the app by making changes  just for changes sake.  So we decided early on all changes had to be improvements.

So what’s in the app?  A selection of new tools including the fantastic Distort tool, I’m not going to give anything away here but just try it and you’ll love it. A new revised user experience which gives easy access to the full tool set at one simple touch, a new colour palette that you can save and store custom colours and, last but not least, special emphasis was given to all the share functionality… and if that wasn’t enough Keri supplied us with new prompts as well.

I think we have achieved our goal of making Wreck This App better for the users.  Only time will tell but everybody Is really excited about the update and I can’t wait for the fans to get hold of it and look forward to seeing what new images are created with our little app.