A Brief History of Time

Design and UX lead, turning the iconic book into an interactive iPhone app for Penguin Random House

A Brief History of Time

“Tom was really great to work with; we broke the problem down from the user’s perspective, turning high level ideas into wireframed solutions and developing outcomes we could test and validate with users. The process was rigorous, but fast and valuable - a real success.”

Neville Daniel, Brief History of Time Project Manager, Somethin' Else

A dream project and an incredible challenge

Penguin | Random House had partnered with the production company Somethin’ Else to deliver Stephen Hawking’s seminal book, ‘A brief history of time’ as an interactive iPhone app. I was approached to lead the design and UX on the project and help deliver the product. The high level concept for the app was to deliver ‘the universe in your pocket’ and deliver a world class, platform defining application, whilst staying true to Stephen’s original style, and material.

Serious physics with an inspirational, blockbuster experience.

I worked closely with the PRH and the product and engineering team at SE, I was responsible for the early concept and ideation phases, user research and information architecture of the application. As we progressed, I shaped the content plans and narrative structure, user journeys, user interface and interaction designs for the product. A small team, and a very tight budget, this was an amazing project coupled with challenging science and an ambitious, bold scope and feature set.

Breaking big ideas down into simple, enjoyable experiences

The original text is very dense and difficult to consume in large quantities. I devised a system where you could split the key Hawking-theories into separate subsections. Each subsection could be consumed within minutes, and the user would have a complete, detailed overview of that area of physics, in a simple, delightful way. Throughout the content there would be various jump off points, enabling users to ‘deep dive’ to new areas to get more insight, and find more challenging ideas and material.