Mobile Inc

Mobile and Web Product Designer from London

48

The Art Of The iOS Icon

One of the great things about the App Store is that it inspires so much creativity from designers, it seems like there’s great new ideas for interfaces and interactions every week that delights the design community.

There’s one sub-section of mobile design that never seems to get enough exposure – App Store icon design. It seems to have developed into its own art form, with immensely talented icon designers finding more and more clever ways to showcase the app in a small square space.

I can’t say it enough – never underestimate the importance of a great app icon. It’s the first thing a user sees before downloading your app (I’ve downloaded apps in the past solely on the icon making the app seem interesting).

Agencies never seem to make decent ones for their clients. It’s really easy – 1) Put £500-800 of your budget aside, 2) Contact one of the guys below 3) Get your gorgeous app icon made.

You can watch a great video of one of the designers making a icon here. Or if you fancy making your own, here’s a handy iOS icon PSD template that resizes and exports using actions.

Update: Many people have asked what these icons would look like at 57×57 and 114×114, check out http://iicns.com/ to toggle between sizes

Here are my favourites:

By Ramotion

By Roman Jusdado

By Konstantin Datz

By Konstantin Datz

By Konstantin Datz

By Aditya Nugraha Putra

By Saturized

By Konstantin Datz

By Dash

By Ryan Ford

By Roman Jusdado

Read More

1

Folding iPhone Sidebar Menu

I’m always on the look out for great interactions and saw this experiment by one of the designers on Dribbble and thought it was worth sharing, especially as it inspired other to use folding concepts in their designs after it was posted:

By ididi

by Anton Kudin

by Johan Rundberg

0

Project Glass by Google

Google’s innovation lab have started building the technology behind the glasses seen in the video. I really hope they pull this off because it looks amazing.

Nokia did a similar video in 2009, interesting to see the difference in execution and vision.

0

I’ve Started A Newsletter – The Mobile Inc Digest

I’m spending so much time designing, working and recovering (shoulder surgery ouch) that there’s less and less time to blog right now. However I’m reading and researching more than ever.

I get through a ton of articles each week and try to absorb all the interesting stuff so I thought that this might be a good opportunity to put everything I’ve enjoyed and found worthwhile into a newsletter so that hopefully you might find it useful too.

The content of newsletter is a real mix of mobile, social, tech, creativity and design from around the web. It’s stuff that gets me thinking and helps form ideas and inspire.

I started the newsletter in November and it now has 184 subscribers which is great because I’ve really enjoyed curating them.

You can view past issues here to get a flavour of the type of articles contained. If it’s up your street then click the link below to sign up!

Sign up to the Mobile Inc Digest!

Newsletters are sent roughly once every 2 weeks.

Cheers!

1

Never stop making – Great Talk From Threadless Founder Jake Nickell

Here’s a really inspiring talk by Jake Nickell, the founder of Threadless and follows on nicely from my last post.

Jake explains the importance of creating things and gives some great advice to anyone looking to start their own project.

“Making stuff is the most joyful occupation that we ever engage, it’s the closest we come to god”

Threadless started off as a side project and is now generating over $30 million in sales.

Check it out:

7

Just Make Stuff.

Back in November 2010 whilst I was in full-time employment, Apple had just launched iOS 4.2 and I was spending a bit of time reading about all the new features of the latest OS update on Mobilexweb.

I stumbled upon one in particular that really got me thinking – the ability for Safari to use the iPhone’s accelerometer (the tech in the phone that detects movement).

This seemed like the perfect opportunity to quickly release a proof of concept using the new feature, right in time for Christmas and get it out there before anyone else.

I reached out to the senior management of the agency where I was working at the time for the funds to hire a HTML5 developer for a couple of days. I suggested  an accelerometer-based Christmas card that we could send to clients, thanking them for their custom over the past year (and showing them what cool stuff we do, maybe even get some press). Standard agency stuff.

My request was rejected.

It was decided that the money would be better spent on Google Adwords campaigns to generate new business leads for the agency. Anything innovative would have to wait until a client came along and wanted it.

Two things happened at that moment… 1) I decided that I needed to go back to freelancing  (I handed in my notice after the new year) and 2) I would make something using the new iOS feature in my own time.

Sadly I’m not a developer so I did what I always do in these situations – ask my good pal Brendan (@oh_moore) if he fancied coding a ‘mobile snowglobe’ that animated everytime you started shaking the phone. Without any hesitation Brendan said yes and that evening he already had a hacked-up prototype of the snow.

I put together the design for the page and asked another friend Leigh (@leighpearce) to do the illustration for the snowglobe. We all worked on the idea a couple of hours here and there in the busy run up to the holidays.

We released the snowglobe into the world just before Christmas and I followed up with a blog post on boxing day.

It got around 25 retweets in total, a couple of nice comments here and there but nothing crazy. We had a fun experience and moved onto the next spare-time thing.

I think both Brendan and myself would agree that it wasn’t the most polished of sites, however as a proof-of-concept it was brilliant. It would have been great to spend a bit more time to iron out the kinks and design but hey, we had presents and turkey to attend to.

Fast forward to almost a year later and the highly regarded mobile design and UX expert Luke Wroblewski (@lukew) announced he was releasing a book called Mobile First.

There was a lot of buzz on Twitter and lots of positive reviews when the book launched- after a while I figured I should probably read it and got around to ordering a copy from the States.

When it arrived a few weeks later, I opened it up and skimmed through the pages…. there it was! Sitting on page 41 ….

Our snowglobe!

I had no idea it was going to be in the book and I’ve never even spoke to Luke. The blog post and the snowglobe barely got any traffic (note to self – never launch anything on Christmas Eve or write blog posts on boxing day), so it just goes to show the importance of getting your ideas out there because you never know who could be looking.

Life at a agency can be tough if you want to explore this big new technological world we live in and create stuff. It’s often expected that ideas only form around clients or projects – the reality is that the best ideas often don’t and never will involve either of these things.

You simply can’t rely on clients to help you innovate – by the time they know what they want it’s already years old. Nobody needs or cares about another QR Code or Blippar campaign but clients seem to think it’s the dogs bollocks.

We are in the most exciting time ever in our industry. The speed of change is huge, every OS update, device or social network brings more and more opportunities to make amazing, fun and interesting stuff.

Things like apps have lowered the barrier to entrepreneurialism – Eeeeevveryone has a idea for a app, some of my mates don’t even know how to use a computer and they have app ideas. Everyone wants a slice of the pie, they know the time is now – everyone apart from agencies that is.

And this is the problem – the current culture of agencies is creating a workforce of idea hoarders. Creatives, planners, copywriters and developers keeping the best ideas for themselves because they would rather do that then give them over to their employers – even if that means those ideas may never see the light of day.

You only need to read the comments and the tweets around my post ‘Can agencies create the next Angry Birds? to see that even with all the resource and skill that an agency has, people see no personal or professional incentive to give away their best ideas.

This great comment from Alec hits the nail on the head (goes back the entrepreneurial mindset in place right now)

There’s no incentive/ownership structure within any of the agencies for which I have worked that addresses ownership of IP on an individual level. On the outside chance that my idea does turn into a million or billion dollar enterprise, I will not be happy with just a pat on the head or an advertising award.

I use to be of the opinion that getting my ideas made at work was the best strategy, I have so many that it was unrealistic to think that I would be able to make most of them even if I had all the spare time in the world. I’d rather have seen my stuff out there than sat on a notepad somewhere in my flat.

But now when the most simplest ideas get rejected internally, with no incentive to generate concepts unless there’s a P.O – it’s apparent the only way to do this stuff is collaborating with like-minded people in your own time.

If you’re working in a agency and you feel like your ideas aren’t being engaged, in my experience there’s a strong chance that others feel the same – team up with them. Get your ideas out there, whether it’s a sketch, prototype or just a simple blog post.

Who knows what might happen.

2

Molly – The Desktop Robot That Turns Your Retweets Into Sweets

Came across this fun little project that’s looking for funding on Kickstarter.

Molly is a tiny robot that sits on your desk and counts how many times you get retweeted, then once you’ve reached your set number it does some magic and pops out a sweet.

The same company is also trying to fund Olly, another robot which turns your online notifications into smells.

Both these projects are by a team called Foundry at the agency Mint Digital in London.

Great to see this kind of experimentation with physical and online stuff coming out of a agency in London.

Check out the video below:

26

Which One Of These Advertisements Would Be Better Understood By The Average Consumer?

Marketers – which one of these billboards do you think would get more responses?

If the point of putting a mobile call-to-action on a advert is to get the consumer to do something with their phone, why is the industry continuing to use a fucking cryptic graphic that less people understand than a URL?

(Updated) The common argument is that mobile users save a handful of seconds by scanning a QR code. Back in 2005 when I first started playing around with the codes, URL’s looked a bit like this:

www.vodafone.com/offers/uk/xsi282$3wudydcjjssover

Now they look a bit like this:

is.gd/goto4

Oh and don’t forget the large percentage of phones that have a physical or virtual keyboard.

So is that single-digit time saving really worth excluding 69% of UK consumers?

I read a great post by Rachel Beer which pretty much sums up what’s happening right now:

“Yet, as with any new technology, QR codes are merely a means to an end for marketers. They are enablers to big ideas. They aren’t the big ideas themselves. Some brands are merely riding the novelty of QR codes, rather than doing anything interesting with them.”

…and Sean Cummings in the post called “Why the QR Code is failing“:

People will not adopt a technical solution that serves to replace a manual task, if that solution is less efficient than the manual task it replaces. How could we think that QR codes for marketing would work any better than CueCat? Did we not learn the first time?

Even John Gruber weighs in:

QR codes are built for machines, not humans. And they’re ugly.

Please make it stop.

 

 

1

Spare Time Project! The InstaBAM! iPhone App – Find Instagram Photos Around The World

At the beginning of 2011 the popular photo-sharing network Instagram announced they would be opening up their platform to allow developers to create their own funky applications and tools.

I hooked up with expert dev Brendan (@fraislocht) and got right on the case to create a mobile website called InstaBAM (works on desktop too) which uses the location information attached to photos uploaded on Instagram to enable people to view pictures around where they are standing.

It was a very simple site for a simple concept – ‘View the world around you through the eyes of others’ . We knocked it together one Sunday evening and launched. The site was surprisingly popular and still is to this day, it should pass 60,000 view by the end of the year.

This led to a conversation with my iOS dev homeboy Jonathan about what we could do next. We decided to use some of Brendan’s hard work and quickly create a iPhone App version of InstaBAM.

In May InstaBAM hit the App Store, available to download for free, it was pretty much a replica of the mobile site and after a initial burst of downloads, they dropped heavily and we left the app unloved, languishing in the depths of the store.

I never blogged about the app or told many people because I always knew it needed more work to get it to a point where it could be used regularly.

Towards the end of the summer we decided to give InstaBAM a refresh, add some new features and a whole new design. We’ve both managed to nick a few hours here and there each week and get something out which is pretty interesting tool to explore photos.

All of the credit has to go to both Jonathan and Brendan, two insanely busy developers that are still willing to take time out and stay up late to work on my crackpot ideas.

So if you have a iPhone click the button below (or click here) and download InstaBAM, it’s completely free and you don’t need a Instagram account to browse local photos.

download Instabam from the App StoreCredit for the photo donation goes to Chris Constantine, photographer and head of design at Sponge.

5

Fellow Creatives – Show This Video To Your Clients

A lovely video that can hopefully help the client understand the creative process a bit more and the difference ‘time to think’ makes.

Yes you want your project delivered like, yesterday but the results might be infinitely better if you just made more time and didn’t churn it out.

Dance creative monkey dance!

[Via @Cameronwall]

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