Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - Page 5 News List

FEATURE: Local designer’s ‘Up Up’ app becomes a runaway hit

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer

Entertainer Mickey Huang, right, interviews designer Haniboi Lee of Haniboi X Zeczec Ltd, creator of the “Up Up” online service, on Monday last week.

Photo: Yan Hsin-yu, Taipei Times

Barely two months after its inception, the “Up Up” (舉牌小人) app designed by Haniboi Lee (李翰) has received an overwhelming response, logging more than 900,000 people using the app through either the Web site or Facebook shares.

The app produces small figures with different-colored attire and hairstyles, each holding up yellow plaques which spell the sentence or word that the user has typed out in the message box on the Web site. The image may later be shared to Facebook or Twitter accounts.

In a recent article in the Chinese-language magazine Business Next, the 32-year-old Lee, who goes by the Internet ID of “Haniboi,” was quoted as saying that he has always liked how fans raised their own hand-made cards at ball games and “the positive attitude of encouragement to others” that it conveyed.

After he kept the idea tucked away in the back of his mind for a long time, he was quoted in the article as saying that the catalyst that prompted him to start on the project had been the first nationwide anti-nuclear rally in March.

Lee said he felt many of the slogans and pictures at the rally were too serious and it got him thinking about how to give a different feel to the same anti-nuclear appeal.

He posted the first draft of “Up Up” on his blog, with the small figures holding up cards reading: “Haniboi says No Nuke.”

“I agreed to make the same pictures for other netizens who left their names in the response forum,” the article quoted Lee as saying.

Lee studied design in England and then started his own studio — primarily working with illustrations — before finally moving back to Taiwan, because his design work necessitated constant travel between England and Taiwan.

According to Lee, there was no generator program at the time, and every figure, plaque and character had to be positioned manually, adding that he never expected to receive over 500 posts on the blog, requesting that names and messages be rendered.

“The responses gave me confidence, and it seemed that many people seemed to like this kind of thing,” Lee was quoted as saying in the article.

According to the article, the concept was further evolved after discussion with Hsu Chen (徐震), a friend Lee met in England and the founder of Zeczec, a crowdfunding site, and the two decided to work together to come up with the current generator program.

The project raised a total of NT$150,000 (US$5,000) on the crowdfunding site, three times the original goal of NT$50,000, the article said, adding that the team is now moving toward the end goal for the first phase of the project and merchandizing.

Postcards were made available this month, and T-shirts, stickers and cellphone cases are due to be produced by the end of the year, according to the article, which added that CMP Group have been given the rights to build 30 1.2m tall statues of the app’s figurines to be located in Greater Taichung.

The beta version of the app, made available in May and originally only a trial run, was rapidly popularized within several hours and reached a staggering 60,000 uses that very night, the article added.

Lee was quoted by the article as saying that the Internet has been the sole reason the app has been so popular, adding that though it conformed to his original idea — hence the links to share the images to Facebook and Twitter, as well as designing two separate sizes, one for Facebook cover photos and another for personal use — he still did not expect the idea to take off so quickly.

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