2014 Australian Mobile & App Awards

mobile, web, IoT, desktop, connected devices
design champion, best studio, best start-up & IoT
plus 20 specialist nomination categories

demand design, celebrate courage

Wild About Whales [DRAFT]







Project Overview

“Wild About Whales” is Australia’s first official Whale Watching App. Every year a myriad of tourists & locals come from far and wide to experience the magnificent coasts and national parks of NSW. One of the most popular coastal attractions are the amazing Whales that inhabit the surrounding ocean, especially in the migration season that takes place June – November each year. Wild About Whales is a mobile program that lets whale enthusiasts connect & engage with the Whale watching experience. The app enables Whale aficionados to share their whale sightings, along with a plenitude of other community engagement activities.

Project Commissioner

NSW National Parks

Project Creator



Midu Chandra - Director of Strategy & Innovation
Mike Vasavada - Director Mobility Solution
Allan McLeod - Project Manager
Joshua Young - Digital Designer
Dongpil Kwak - Lead Developer
Lucas Attrey - Quality Assurance & Testing Manager

Project Brief

NSW National Parks engaged agency partners’ mobiDdiction and Threesides, to explore how the Whale Watching experiences off the NSW coast could be brought closer to land for others to see and experience.

Recognising the value mobile can deliver, NSW National Parks wanted a solution that was more than just an informational hub for whales; they wanted a utility that could make the Whale Watching experience, shareable, social and fun.

We approached this brief by addressing the following questions. What would make peoples’ Whale Watching experience better than it already is and, how could mobile be utilised to achieve this? Surprisingly, the answer was quite simple. We needed to provide Whale devotees with a utility that not only gave information about whales but also allowed them to see where the whales currently were in near real-time. However if they were the first to spot a Whale, they then had the opportunity share their experience with everyone else.
We all agreed that the role of mobility was not just to inform but also to make the Whale watching experience more meaningful and shareable across a bigger community of “Wild About Whales” fans.

Project Need

The experience we wanted to create was very ambitious, something that had not been done in the world before. We wanted to create a solution that gave people the opportunity to view where the whales were and to share their own sightings with fellow enthusiasts.

The immediacy of the experience made full use of mobile as an engagement platform. In working through how this could be achieved, we discovered that there was an existing travel & tour operator facility, which already captured Whale Sightings. Taking the next logical step, we focussed on how to extend this functionality to serve as the hub of sightings powering the mobile platform.

A few brainstorming and technical meetings later, we had a new set of APIs’ providing a robust way to show where the whales are, as well as allow Whale Enthusiasts to share their very own sightings.

After all of this work you have to question, do people really appreciate having this core functionality?

It’s been rewarding to hear the answer is a resounding “yes”.

Wild About Whales has been profiled on broader media such as Sydney Weekender, Channel 7 News and acknowledged by the Daily Telegraph as one of the top 10 apps in Australia and #2 on the Australian Geographic’s Top 50 Apps.

User Experience

As soon as users launched the app, we wanted to provide them with an aesthetic design that embraced the majestic experience of being at the ocean and interacting with Whales. Moreover, it needed to easily prioritise the core functionality that the app had available:

• Ability to easily navigate and learn about different whale species
• Read tips on how to spot them
• View the latest whale sightings
• Record their own sightings
• Connect with community via Twitter and Facebook.

When it comes to user experience, consistency is paramount. When building the interactivity within this app, we didn’t want the user to be more than two or three clicks away from performing any actions. This led us to create a grid-based interface, which provided a clear menu mechanism and content sections, which focussed users in on relevant information, activities and utilities.
A key part of our time was spent on making sure the Whale Spotting section was as intuitive as possible for people to view where the Whales were and share their own sightings.
After thorough rounds of user testing, we established that the use of iconography and prompts provided the most intuitive experience for users to be able to perform these tasks. This has certainly paid off with so many sightings being reported by the community on a daily basis.

See the screen shot images to your right to view the final outcome.

Project Marketing

The launch of the “Wild About Whales” mobile platform has been supported by a fully integrated marketing campaign including promotion across all NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service’s communication channels. This has included Facebook, websites, email newsletters and promotional brochures, which are handed out at tourism and tour operator centres.

These channels have been supported by media in the form of targeted PR outreach, Facebook and digital advertising. This has proven to be exceptionally successful in getting the app into enthusiasts’ hands. PR outreach specifically has seen the app get a lot reach and positive coverage across regional newspapers, blogs and most recently, coverage on Channel 7 news and Sydney Weekender.

Continuous content marketing across the Wild About Whales Social channels supports showcasing content produced by the community via the app and assists in driving further engagement with the Wild About Whales mobile program.

Project Privacy

This application purposefully keeps no user data as we want to ensure that anonymity is maintained. All sightings that are posted and captured are kept in an encrypted format and decrypted by the application for presentation purposes. This process uses SSL for all communication.

The only other data that is captured in aggregate is user behavioural analytics, which provide insights into how the community is using the “Wild About Whales” app and what functionality needs improvement.


This category recognises applications developed for all levels of government services.
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