25 Feb
   Filed Under: Interface Design, Software Releases   

The future of web applications is bright. While I use Adobe’s applications a lot daily, I’m by no means a fan of their overpriced and badly designed products. That’s exactly why I am so pleased to see a product like 280North’s Atlas, a type of Xcode / Interface Builder for Cappuccino, their powerful web application framework.

Currently, very intensive, desktop-quality web applications either use Adobe’s Flash, or a very barebones interface that works using Javascript and HTML. I love the latter approach; standards compliant, plugin-less applications fills my heart with joy. It wasn’t really desktop-quality, though, and this is a huge step in the right direction.

I’d love to see web applications like Aviary’s created in this; the Flash plugin makes these great applications sadly unusable on a Mac.

24 Feb

After many months of working with Jon Lech Johansen (known on the internet as ‘DVD Jon’) and the other guys of the doubleTwist crew, I’m proud to announce doubleTwist for Mac has gone public today. I’ve designed doubleTwist’s icon, website, logo, and the interface together with Sean Patrick O’Brien.

dtscreen

doubleTwist is a great application (soon also on Windows) that aims to be for media what the browser is for the web. Got some music in iTunes and videos on Youtube you want to put on your Blackberry, or PSP? No problem, doubleTwist will handle all the details. Want to put your elaborate photo album of your last vacation on flickr, and share a select few privately with friends? doubleTwist does it.

It’s really an amazing idea for an application; you’d start to wonder why such a thing hasn’t been done before. It’s all very simple and fun to use. I suggest you check out the nice screencasts on the doubleTwist website, and download the beta. You can also see if your device works with doubleTwist.

23 Oct

I didn’t intend to write a single letter on my blog before the impending redesign of all my websites, but here I go anyway; today, Phill Ryu and Andrew Kaz opened the doors of the website of Classics, a great new iPhone application that will be out soon. I was honourably tasked with designing the interface, website, and a book together with the awesome David Lanham. Classics offers a gorgeous, tactile experience for reading some all-time literary classics (hence the name), with a sturdy collection of literature that will be expanded with updates in the future. Read on for some great images of how the interface (and icon) developed as time progressed, and some bonus images of my alternative Flatland cover designs.

It was the 12th of September of this year, when I was sitting at home designing a great user interface concept for a desktop app, and Phill contacted me. He told me all about this new project, and we soon found out we were definitely on the same frequency. It’s interesting to see how such an app starts out; at first, we had this clean slate to work off of, and after a mockup session for the ‘reading view’, the idea started to take wings.

I designed a set of interface mockups for Classics right before I went on my trip to San Francisco. David Lanham took my mockups and created a beautiful, toned down color theme and a set of adjustments that made the interface a gorgeous whole that is very pleasant to read in. Real-life testing was an important part of the application; users could be lying in the park grass reading a book on their iPhone in the bright afternoon sun, and if they are, they should be able to still read pleasantly without having to squint an eye or going indoor and looking at an interface that’s completely black on white. In the end, we got a beautiful interface together that just worked beautifully on the high resolution iPhone screen, and I think I speak for everyone involved when I say that I’m very proud of the way the interface turned out.

Then there’s also the part of the app most people contact me for, the icon. I only designed a suggested alternative icon for Classics (the middle icon in the image below), as David was creating a set of concepts. Here’s some of the icons we went through; we eventually settled with the bookshelf David designed (although a more polished version than the one shown here).

I really like the way the icon looks on my home screen, and I must admit that although I liked the simple concept of having just a book as the icon, the shelf works better as the bookshelf is really the ‘face’ of Classics. It’s also a joy to use; scrolling it up and down and rearranging all the books is a lot of fun, and it’s very snappy.

I also designed a set of covers for Edwin A. Abbott’s classic braintwister ‘Flatland’, one of my favorite mind-expanding books. Flatland is the life story of a square in a truly twodimensional world. He explains his world, and he eventually finds other worlds like ‘Lineland’, a one-dimensional world, and ‘Spaceland’, a three-dimensional world. It’s very powerful, as it can have you thinking about the possibility of a fourth spatial dimension or the implications of life in a world where there’s only two. Definitely a worthwhile addition to the Classics collection of books.

It was a lot of fun laying out the typography inside the book and designing these accompanying covers; While I got a lot of feedback about these covers, most people really liked the rightmost one, which is the one that made it onto the shelf. You can see it on the website now.

As you can see from the end result, Classics boasts an impressively subtle interface, that’s still very attractive, and is perfectly suited to reading text in any situation. The great aspect of reading in Classics is what Phill called the ‘tactile experience’; users can flip the pages with their fingers, making reading a book feel a lot more realistic and natural. It may sound gimmicky at first, but if you actually use the application, you’ll discover how pleasant it really is. I’ve been reading a lot for all of my life, and Classics is really the natural evolution of reading to me. Without having to lug around a bag of my favorite books, Classics offers me a gorgeous shelf of literature that I can read on the go, in line at the grocery store, or in the warmth of my home with the cat curled up on my lap. Even the most avid bookworms will find the iPhone a great platform to read books on now.

Classics will be available soon on the Apple App Store; you can take a look at the website me and David designed here to subscribe to the information newsletter and get notified when Classics is released! Also, don’t forget to digg it!

14 Aug

Well, it’s that time of the year again, I’ve packed my bags and me and my girlfriend are off to celebrate 3 days of guaranteed fun at Lowlands 2008. Lowlands is a musical festival, with a huge line-up of artists, cultural events, and great food and people. It’s the third year I’m attending.

This year’ll be quite different than the last, as I’ll be taking my iPhone 3G, and I’ve also taken some time apart to make a beautiful and well-optimized web application for all attendees with iPhones and iPod Touches; LL4iPhone. With permission of the festival organisers, I could use some of their decals and branding in the app to give it a consistent feel. It was quite an interesting personal assignment to flex my poorly trained Javascript and PHP muscles, but it worked out quite nicely in the end. You can check it out at LL08.com (you’ll be automatically taken to the web app if you’re on an iPhone); it’s entirely free to use.

I will also try to update with pictures and text from twitter and perhaps even this blog post by using iPhone applications, if my battery levels allow it. If you’re at Lowlands, give me a call or email so we can meet up!

13 Jun

I’m a big fan of virtual desktops. Essentially, they expand your working field by providing more ‘screens’ to distribute your windows over. In Tiger, when Leopard’s Spaces application wasn’t in the picture, there were several solutions; my favorite one being VirtueDesktops by Tony Arnold. VirtueDesktops, or more shortly ‘Virtue’, was abandoned when Spaces came out, and I’m using Spaces ever since. I did miss several features that the virtual desktops of yore offered, but the new features made up for it.

You can imagine I was thrilled when Tony approached me to design the icon for his new Spaces-enhancing application, Hyperspaces. The name, purpose, and features of the application instantly appealed to me, and we set off to make a great icon for it.

Continue reading…

04 Apr
   Filed Under: Commercial Work, Design, Software Releases   

After the beta times, Flow, the application whose signature icon I designed, has gone live. This great FTP client has been essential to be since the first beta builds, and it’s a joy to see it being released now. Congratulations to Brian of Extendmac on this momentous day!

Flow’s icon has been received with a lot of praise, as it’s safe to say about 65% of all my assignment inquiries begin with ‘love your work, [...] especially the Flow icon!’. You can grab Flow for $29 or download a free trial here.