The parental dilemma

All parents have been there, you have made plans for the evening but you are struggling to find a babysitter.  For all the innovation of the Internet age, finding trusted babysitters at short notice is difficult and many people rely on a small network of family and friends. Bubble set out to change that dynamic by putting great parents in touch with great sitters.

However, simply connecting the two sides easily is not enough on its own – trust is key. That’s why the app needed to be a ‘socially smart’ mobile app not only to allow parents to find, book and pay their sitters in a few taps – but also show both parents and sitters how they’re connected through mutual friends. It is about the power of the personal connection, which is how parents love to find their babysitters.

Designed from the ground up

When Bubble approached Shaping Cloud with their idea, it was instantly something that we wanted to work with them on. The challenge both from a technical and design perspective was one that the team truly embraced as we set about our first Discovery phase of the project. The application would require a great deal of complexity behind the scenes in order to deliver the simple and pain free user experience that the founders Ari and Adrian were looking for.

There were two really key principles in the design of the app – trust and connection. The trust aspect required for the app to undertake a series of background identity checks on the fly as new users signed up to the service. The was going to be a secure bubble and they wanted both parents and sitters to feel reassured that the people they were dealing with. This sense of trust and security would be further enhanced by enabling users of the app to see the degrees of connection between themselves and the other users on the app. A parent may not know one of the sitters but they would be able to see that they are connected to that sitter through a mutual friend and then ask that friend to “vouch” for the sitter.

Technical Building Blocks

The biggest aspect in building out a first Alpha version of the app was in ensuring that the connections piece was in place. The team agreed upon using the Facebook Mutual Friends API as a way to begin pulling together a users’ social circle. This data was then stored in a powerful Neo4J Graph database which would grow and develop overtime to encompass the entire bubble network of users. The back-end services were deployed onto Microsoft Azure and payment mechanics were hooked into Braintree.

The app itself was built using Angular and wrapped as a Cordova project to allow it to harness the native functionality of the different smartphone platforms whilst being driven from one codebase. Design of the app was conducted by following the atomic design principles to ensure that the app would look great regardless of the device it was being viewed on.

The app is now in a live Beta and Shaping Cloud are continuing to work with the Bubble team as they set about transforming the way people think about finding babysitters.

€92billion

per year

The estimated size of the babysitting market in Europe

£8.38

per hour

The average hourly rate for a babysitter with 2-5 years experience in London

99%+

word of mouth

The babysitting market is still almost entirely driven by word of mouth.