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S03E48 – Keep it Obvious Stupid
Good morning 👋
At least half of my iPad’s value is unlocked through the Apple Pencil. As far as I’m concerned the iPad is the companion accessory. For the last year, I’ve tried out numerous apps to ideate in freeform. Originally, I thought a blank white infinite canvas was what I was looking for. But the lack of boundaries made things become a mess quickly. And although prioritising my content over the app’s chrome puts it in focus and is arguably optimal in certain contexts (imagine you could only write in Word in its reader mode), it became apparent that I have an inherent bias towards less because of the designer in me. This would result in a clean, minimal outputs that look great in screenshots but their everyday utility was compromised because it was work to make the app work. No to a button – let’s dump everything into this menu. No to having a visible drawer that will reduce vertical content by 30 pixels – let’s hide it behind a swipe. Etc.
I came across GoodNotes recently – an important find that will be a big influence on the next generation of Third Culture Apps. Instantly it was clear their developers were not motivated to build the prettiest, most modern piece of software. They wanted to create a note-taking app you would admire not for its aesthetic but its utility. I mean it has an actual toolbar that’s fixed in place. It looks old fashioned but damn it works. My first instinct (and most others’ I suspect judging by other apps I tested) would be to have a single button within to switch between the thickness levels. But they have three! Same applies to colour. I continue to use it everyday because it prioritises my speed and not a designer’s ego.
Last week I had an idea. I built it, and it was pretty much what I had in mind. But the mind can play tricks on you. There were many elements in Appy Weather’s initial release that were unnecessarily clever. Most users didn’t appreciate it because most didn’t get it. Huh? I didn’t know I could… Who was I trying to impress? This idea I had fell in this bucket. So I scrapped it. And went with the simple obvious option: visible tabs on the Forecast screen to switch between Hourly, Daily, and Timeline. It just works. I can unashamedly confirm 2.0 will have a more dense UI than its predecessor. The challenge is to somehow keep things feeling clean. To make more feel as little as possible.
Have a great Sunday!
P.S. “Keep Going” is available this Black Friday for 66% off! It’s made $150 during the promotion so far. I hope to use the funds generated to finally purchase a Fully Jarvis (I’ve had an eye on it for some time and with it being 20% off this month, it’s a case of buy it now or next November). I’m still short by a few hundred dollars but hope to make up the gap as much as possible in the next few days. A better back = more productive days = faster releases in 2022.