Behind the scenes of building an app

“Our products are designed to give parents peace of mind knowing that their children can learn while playing with our mother-tongue apps.” Sibella Knott-Craig, founder of Xander Apps.

There is a lot of work that goes into building a good children’s app, and most of it is behind the scenes.  Let’s explore the basics of building an app, find out what makes a good app,  and meet some of the young voices that help bring our characters to life.

An application starts with an idea, or a need. Educational apps provide informal learning in a stress-free, playful environment. Children can learn while they play giving parents peace of mind while they conduct a meeting or watch a sibling’s tennis lesson. Good apps stimulate curiosity and increase confidence through newly acquired knowledge.

The product specialist is passionate about the app concept and workshops app ideas with a trusted team of software developers, parents, and designers. Experts in user experience and education are also consulted before the spec is finalised and planned per screen.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 09.13.53 Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 09.15.00

Illustrators, animators, designers, developers and sound engineers make the dream into a reality. The most important work in releasing any application is the user testing. The final product is checked for functionality and flow by adults and children in order to identify any bugs before release. Apps are mostly developed so that they are compatible with both Android and Apple devices, and so that they scale to fit screens of varying sizes.

Xander specialises in mother tongue apps and believes in the benefits of children learning from other children. With the help of a team of young mother tongue voice artists, this vision is brought to life. Last year the Xander team collaborated with the winners of the WOW Spelfees at Stellenbosch University, and invited the top two performing students to help with the Xander Afrikaans spelling app. Below you can see the two young students in the recording studio working their magic.

Roy Jr Baptiste - Grade 2
Roy Jr Baptiste – Grade 2


Stella Malan - Grade 2
Stella Malan – Grade 2

Below is the script and screenshot for ‘Die Lelike Eendjie’, which was narrated by one of our young voice artists.

Click here to see what the final product looks like.

Scene three (Farm scene)

Narrator: Die Mamma eend neem haar eendjies….
Narrator: om te gaan swem by die dam. (Wait)
Narrator: Die lelike eendjie is sterker as *pause* al die ander eendjies.


Lelike Eendjie Screen

Once all these elements have been pulled together, the app is ready for release. This typically takes months of intensive work, and the release of a new app is an exciting time. Read more on this process here.  Now that you know about all the work that goes into developing and perfecting an app, you might want to be involved in building your own apps in future.

What to look out for when downloading an application for children:

  • No advertising or in-app purchases
  • Attractive, well designed, simple and intuitive design
  • Apps should do what they say they do – educate or entertain

Your child should always get something out of the experience of engaging with an app, so remember to test apps yourself before handing over your device.

Xander aims to pique curiosity in children and cultivate a love of learning.