Sometimes in larger companies, there are established systems in place that can be out-dated and loathed by the boots on the ground, but the group sticks with it. Additionally, changing these systems can be years of uphill battles. I encourage groups to just set up these inexpensive (often free) tools for their own group or project(s) and just kinda run under the radar. Most are remarkably easy to get started with, there’s often no technical requirements other than a web browser, and I’ve even see these tools re-energize a group/project.
These things are great for one-man-band setups as well as they make interacting with clients so much more efficient.
Oh, check out the comments too. Lots of good suggestions down there.
Just in time for all of those new Christmas iPhones and iPads, Apple’s iTunes App Store just accepted the “How Your House Works” app we built for John Wiley & Sons. It’s pretty cool – very visual and easy to find what you’re looking for. Repeat toilet troubles? Well, we included a “favorites” button so you can create a list of your favorite areas of interest. A last minute addition of some social networking functionality lets users tell the world what they are fixing. Good times.
If you have an iPad or an iPhone, it might be loaded with apps that didn’t really pan out. Even though there might be a hundred plus apps on my iPad, there are about ten that I don’t know how I did without. One of those is iMockups for iPad.
For anyone that ever has to think through a website or an iPad or iPhone app, this is the tool to use. I’ve even had desktop apps that don’t come close to this $7 iPad app. In a nutshell, with a simple drag and drop interface, users touch and drag a basic framework to the canvas. For example, an iPhone, iPad, or a browser window. From there, using a library of objects, build out your wireframe. For example, here’s a shot of a canvas with an iPhone “framework” and then on top of that, from the right menu of objects, I dragged over a keyboard to show some sort of text entry.
You can even make multiple layout pages within a project and link certain areas to jump to another part of the project (another wireframe).
Now, you don’t have to describe your apps with paragraphs and paragraphs of text. Just put together a rough layout on your own and build from there. This app is a great way to think through an app and deliver a solid structure to your dev team. Download it today.
The new app we built for John Wiley & Sons just went live in the iTunes store. I’m excited about this one because, well, on my ever growing ‘todo’ list, “renovate the kitchen” floats around mid-list. So, I had a dog in this hunt. I also liked the way it came out. So much so, I made a quick little video overview of the iPhone version:
I’ll cover how that video was created in a separate post, but for now, a little plug-o-la:
The app is made for both iPhone & iPad (the iPad version has some really nice background art) – aka a Universal app. It’s also available for Android. Looks like the publisher has it on sale, so if this is up your alley, pick it up now at $3.99.
Time for a small celebration. Oh – we have a few more apps in the works and should be hitting the stores in the next few weeks.
A post over at Edenspiekermann just revealed that many professional designers are using an uncontainable application to layout websites and apps: Apple’s Keynote. That’s right, the presentation software that everyone relates to Apple’s answer to Microsoft’s PowerPoint, turns out to be quite a powerful design tool. Here’s a clip:
I was very surprised to find out that designers were using Keynote for laying out presentations. My surprise turned to alarm when I found out that they were also using it as a design tool to build UI designs for websites and apps. It turns out that I was absolutely wrong. Keynote is an incredibly powerful design tool. Less then one year later, I now rarely (if ever) use InDesign to layout presentations, and I have started using Keynote almost exclusively for any web layouts I do. And not just UX wireframes, but full UI designs.
The post goes on to explain what makes Keynote such a useful and appropriate tool for designing websites, as well as the shortcomings.
What I found the most interesting is that often we get so distracted by having the perfect piece of software or just the right hardware set up that nothing actually gets done. Here are professional designers using a $19.99 app that anyone can download today and get moving.
Less and less is in the way between you and getting your work in the hands of millions.
Apple announced their new iBooks platform (iBooks 2 – a free upgrade) and a new Mac application called iBooks Author (another free app in the App Store) that allows anyone to create media rich, beautiful books. Details are still coming in on distribution, but I imagine that in addition to submitting them to the iBooks store, there will be a way to self publish materials, put them on a blog, and share or sell to the world without entering the iBooks store. Just like you can produce a PDF today and pop it in iBooks, I’d guess you’ll be able to do the same with a file produced on this new application. Could this be the start of a new standard?
There’s a rumor floating around that Apple is going to release a new application that lets anyone create visually rich eBooks with audio and video capabilities. The idea is just as Apple made creating movies (iMovie), music (GarageBand), and Photo Books (iPhoto) easy, fun and beautiful, they will do the same thing here for books. And just in time!
Last night on the train back to Thicksole Global Headquarters, I was reading the Steve Jobs book on the iPad. Throughout the book there are a number of photos that launch chapters. They’re small and you naturally want to zoom in on them. You can. But they get pixelated and fuzzy. Zero thought went in to creating this product in a digital format. It was just shoehorning content into a package and sending it out the door. Garbage.
Let’s take a closer look at that iPod!
Fuzzy Wuzzy Was an iPod
There are authors like Neil Strauss that have held off putting any books into eBook format due to this terrible formatting issue.
So, if the rumors are true, we’re going to see some fantastic books from both publishers, and hopefully from individuals if this package is made accessible to the masses as Apple has done in the past. Just reading the Jobs book last night, I thought of the ways rich media could be embedded into the book:
Video clips of the actual product announcements the author describes. Let’s see it!
Audio of Steve and other folks that were interviewed for the book especially in the extended quoted sections. Let’s hear it!
Rich photos and galleries of the products and packaging described in the text.
If this happens and richly produced books begin to hit the iBooks store, it could definitely get me to move away from the Amazon Kindle format.
So you’ve had a book idea on your mind for months (maybe years) but never followed through because you couldn’t find an interested publisher (and, well, writing a book is hard work!). Well, now, with a little elbow grease, you can get distribution to millions of readers, publish on your own terms, and even have complete control of the finished product! Yesterday, Amazon.com announced their new tool set for building books in their new KF8 (Kindle Format 8 ) standard. Here’s a clip from the message that landed in my inbox:
We’re pleased to announce that Kindle Publisher Tools with Kindle Format 8 (KF8) support are now available for download. Kindle Format 8 is Amazon’s next generation file format offering a wide range of new features and enhancements – including HTML5 and CSS3 support that publishers can use to create all types of books. KF8 adds over 150 new formatting capabilities, including drop caps, numbered lists, fixed layouts, nested tables, callouts, sidebars and Scalable Vector Graphics – opening up more opportunities to create Kindle books that readers will love. Kindle Fire is the first Kindle device to support KF8 – in the coming months KF8 will be rolled out to our latest generation Kindle e-ink devices as well as our free Kindle reading apps.
So with a little HTML and some CSS, you can create world class books. Download the new tools here:
This goes back to my idea that coding fundamentals are a new standard set of office skills just like MS Office basics were mandatory as those Selectrics were carted away in the early 90′s. You have the tools and now you just have to write that book!
This comes up pretty often not only from managers and marketers that want to get started with some web work, but also at a lot of the Meetups I attend with fellow developers. ”What application do you use for _______________?” So, a couple of months ago I was training a marketing group and gave them my preferred ‘tools of the trade.’ It’s a pretty simple set, but I live in these applications 95% of the time when doing any kind of web work.