Anyone Love a Whodunnit?

I just ‘finished’ my first app Whodunnit: Murder at Armstrong Manor. It’s designed for ESL students but even native speakers might find the riddle a challenge. One request: if you do solve the crime please don’t post the answer. Instead you can brag about your deductive reasoning chops by answering the question: What kind of ‘deck’ is it? If you can answer that then I’ll know you nailed it.

If, on the way, you notice something amiss, I’d love feedback on the technical side as I’m sure I’ve messed up here and there as well as violated any number of best practices. For Example:

Some of the content including PDF documents, sounds and the Teaching Resources and Acknowledgement pages are web elements linked from outside of the app. Is that a Worst Practice? Are there better ways of presenting that content?

@DaBoo I checked it out. There are tons of remarkable things to say about it; good and bad.
I will focus on the bad parts. Though not a complete list, here are a few observations while holding target the task, not the content in mind:

  • I didn’t know where or how to start the game.
    It was a challenge, never mind the riddle.
    It took some time, but I think I get it now. Slight changes in UI may help others save time.

  • The menu at the bottom was not linked correctly.
    Put simply, if the screen has the menu at the bottom, do not use the back arrow at the top left on the same screen. … MOST of the time. I think in your case, here.

Use the back arrows on screens without bottom menus; when visiting a sub-page, or detailed info.
And each tab on the bottom menu should be linked to every other tab in the bottom menu.
I can’t navigate in that manner, as is, on your app.

If this is not clear, open up some of your favorite apps and a take careful note of how back arrows and main (bottom) menus are used. (or not used together in that manner)

  • Test users in person
    Run your user tests by saying, “This is a whoodunnit game. Please play it. While you are playing, I want you to vocalize the thoughts in your head, as you are thinking them”

An example of what your tester may say: “Ok, start the game, notes, team, evidence. where do I start… what does this do? Oh, why can’t I … oh, that’s cool. … OHOH, I know… but, where do I” etc.

When testing sit back, watch, and listen closely. DO NOT ASK, HELP, NOR LEAD the witness … I mean, the user testing your app;) If they are having tough time, it is important that you don’t interfere. The goal here is to watch them suffer through your app. So, you can fix the app. NOT the user; during the test.

Don’t make changes to your app until you have tested 10-15+ people… look for trends. There is only so much quality in the feedback you will receive by sharing online. I have seen some startups go as far as to use secondary monitors during testing, so the whole team can view the testers in real-time, whilst taking notes. (For over-achievers only)

  • About the NOTES tab…. I don’t like the back-n-forthness of it all.

I wish notes were accessible on every screen. In a real case, a witness can be a suspect; and me, the investigator, may change my mind about people’s roles at anytime during the investigation / game…

Off the top of my head…

  • I would put “notes” & “answer vault” together, using a pop-up modal. Not as a part of the main menu at the bottom, but it’s own distinct looking button at the top, or floating button at the bottom - I want to take notes & give the answer in the same place at anytime.

  • I would put the PDFs in the app – Perhaps I don’t know your reasoning… but, as is, seems like a pointless wild goose chase. If you need to print them. print them. if this is being taught online, ok, I get it; students can print… unless you’re grading handwriting … not seeing the purpose of the pdf. put the copy in the app. … and group it appropriately.

  • acknowledgements, team, & workshop should go together ON THEIR OWN TAB. I guess on the team tab. (or rename it) Acknowledgements & workshop are not part of the game. Don’t confuse me by putting them together. That was actually a huge distraction that mislead and wasted a lot of time.

  • The home screen - I would redesign it. This is kind of opinionated, so I won’t go into detail. I would delete the search icon button at the top. I understand why you are using it. However, it’s a bit of a mistake because, as a user, I am expecting to be able to do an actual search. … like in this Adalo site, Google, or any other site. Use it as an illustration or search; NOT a link to a screen. Perhaps make the text bigger. … I’ll leave it at that.

This looks like it took an incredible amount of time to put together. And the game even takes a bit of time to play. More time than I have at the moment. But, I hope this feedback helps.

Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions or if you make updates.
I may poke around more, or even try to solve it if I get some more free time.

Again, great job with the audio, the storyline…etc. Let alone, making it an ESL lesson. I am sure that if students CAN USE it, they WILL and love it!

Much respect. Keep going! Keep polishing!


I notice that the navigation menu is linked more and working better.
Still, I would refrain from using back arrows on the main screens; only on sub-screens / pages.
And, you may want to change transitions between the screens of the main bottom navigation to, no transition.

@Toddy Thanx for all the great suggestions. Not only will it help me refine the app but provide some grounding for other noobs like me. This stuff is gold, the kind of stuff that’s sorely lacking from Adalo Tuts.

I’ll repost once I’ve worked through all this.

I tried to integrate the PDFs into the app but concluded it wasn’t possible. Is it actually doable?

I had originally hoped to put the PDFs onboard as I feel going outside of the app is kind of messy and, in some cases might prove to be a barrier to students. I even considered restructuring the content for the smartphone form factor as I did with the ‘Newspaper’ content but it’s a massive undertaking. Still might do that though.

I had also hoped to integrate the sounds and likewise concluded sound files couldn’t be integrated. Is that actually possible too?

Incidentally, I used existing web content { Whodunnit! } so I didn’t have to make hard decisions or create content on the fly. As such, it only took about 5 days to cobble this app together. That’s the beauty of Adalo, its speed, even for noobs. There are some serious shortcomings that I hope can be addressed as I may not be able to use it for other projects I have in mind.

You’re welcome.

I would literally copy & paste the pdf content in.

remember: it’s never too early to test. It could save you lots of work. test with students. watch and listen to them. Cannot stress the value of testing AS you build… not later after you have every detail.
rebuilding SUCKS.

Not sure about the sound files. May be worth checking Adalo documentation on that. I thought your sound files were fine. Sure, you could tweak the voice & or speed for learners… but, I would not focus on that, now.

Focus on the organization and usability of the app. If you find that students like it. I THINK they will… ( I used to teach young ESL learners ) You can use the same app format to make many whodunnits. Given that I have made many lesson plans…I know that idea is golden as far as getting students to use many skills.

Keep brainstorming… yes, Adalo is a little limited… but for teaching, you could make sooo many small app lessons. Adalo is perfect for it. If I were still teaching, I would be all over it.

Okay, here’s a major update: Whodunnit: Murder at Armstrong Manor for ESL

It’s on the 5th iOS Test Flight round and only one issue left, wrapping:

Already reported it as possible bug.

As for Android, Fut The Wuck is going on there?

@Toddy: I fixed some of the issues you pointed out; kept others for what ever reason. I did end up losing all of the outside links, restructuring some of the content for inclusion inside the app and actually figured out how to place PDFs and a PPTX. I’m sticking with the note taking pop ups for now. Spent days trying to aggregate the data on one page and, for now, giving up. Maybe in a future update.


Poked around a bit… Looks a lot less confusing. Great job. Ship it.

My only suggestion: For legibility sake, make all text dark brown. (Like most of it is currently) The light brown / tan colored text is a bit harder to read; especially on the introductory screen.

Keep it up!

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Now available for iOS, free of charge: Google Play Console

Could Android be any slower?

My Whodunnit Murder Mystery is now available for both platforms, free of charge:

Apple App Store: ‎Whodunnit Murder Mystery ESL on the App Store

Google Play:

Apple was really straightforward with approval typically taking a few minutes for any alpha or beta build and couple hours for any final publication. Google Play is a Kafkaesque nightmare with obtuse, ill-explained rules, completely opaque procedures and help that is hopeless.
Let me know if you find any bugs and please don’t post the solution online if you decide to solve the mystery. Just say ‘Got it!’ I’ll believe you…