Category Archives: Design

Design in general, of any type

Pythagoras Published

The first BGS Mathematics multi-touch book is now available to download on the iBooks Store.

Pythagoras is an introduction to studying Pythagorean Theorem, suitable for KS3. Who was Pythagoras? What is the Theorem? How can we use it?

The book will guide you through at every stage with worked examples and questions to complete. The book is full of interactive elements, videos and illustrations. Accessible scrolling view supported.

Download Pythagoras for free from the iBooks Store

Computer Systems Published

Our first Computer Science multi-touch book is now available to download for free on the iBooks Store.

Designed for Year 9 students, we explore the different parts that make up a computer system, and how they all work together to allow you to do anything from write a novel, analyse the human genome and allow you to watch hours of cat videos on YouTube…

Download Computer Systems for free

Discovering Biology Published & Vectors in iBooks Author

The Bedford Girls’ School Year 6 Biology revision guide has been published to the iTunes Bookstore. It has been renamed ‘Discovering Biology’ and covers cells, microscopes, senses, skeleton, muscles and microbes suitable for keystage 2 or 3 learners.

Download Discovering Biology for free on the iTunes Bookstore.

Under the bonnet, the book demonstrates the turning point in my workflow from constructing diagrams using Adobe Photoshop to using iBook Author’s vector tools.

Whereas the interactive diagrams require a raster image (the microscope was illustrated in Photoshop for example), I now construct the illustrations embedded into the pages without augmentation entirely with vectors within iBooks Author. (Muscles illustration is entirely drawn with vectors within iBA.)

The software doesn’t currently support importing SVG etc, but I was pleased how easy it was to draw. The only drawback is that it can crash out, so I’m conscious to save very regularly. Hopefully an update will resolve the stability (I feel I’ve submitted more than enough reports!)

Moonlighters Website

I sing with a small swing, jazz choir in Tempsford on a weekly basis for over a year now, after moving from Bedford Choral Society in search of a challenge. The Moonlighters sing mostly without accompaniment, and the smaller number of members requires everyone to hold their own.

As one of the members was emigrating, the existing website had to be replaced and moved elsewhere. So after some thought I volunteered to set up a new site (the existing code and content was wrapped up in a third-party CMS which was not easily accessible) with WordPress and on TSO Host, my preferred hosting company.

The website – Moonlighters.org now is a source of new members and enquiries to hire, and we have plans – new photography, some recordings, even a mailing list.

Online Forum Documentation Project

For a little over a year now, I’ve been a curator.

cu·ra·tor
/ˈkyo͝orātər/
Noun
A keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection.
Synonyms
custodian – keeper – trustee – guardian – conservator

It is an administrative role at a friendly online forum, with posts monthly from between 50 and 60 engaged members from around the world.  Historically several hundred have been members at some point, and it has been going longer than the three years I have been part of the community.

It has a challenge of conveying the rules of a collaborative writing game, everything from how a member conducts themselves in a chatbox to the boundaries of science in the game have been painstakingly discussed over the years, debated, disagreed, resolved and reworked by the members and their curators.

The curator team has changed regularly over time, adapting to a larger group of members, more activity, hundreds of questions and the considerations of making final decisions on some of these discussions.  All in all, it can be a mammoth task, especially when collaboration is entirely done through forum posts, instant messages and the odd Skype call when timezones allow.  Some days it can feel a thankless task, other days it is synonymous with an online pub where topics fall to cooking and discussing the differences in culture and daily life between us.

Last year, shortly after I made the ranks of curator, the team went through a period of ‘redux’ where the forum’s documentation had become sprawling and inaccessible to many, with contradictions and other matters.  The forum had a wiki, but it was generally only for the interested or involved, and the decision was made to keep the core documentation on forum pages, but reduce the number and simplify matters.  But where to start proved tricky, and without being able to be in the same room to draw it out or debate it, it was hard to visualise.

Then stepped up a beautiful piece of software I’d acquired for the Mac – MindNode, a tool to map out thoughts and ideas in a spider-diagram.

We were able to turn this:
ao-original-docs

Into this:

ao-revised-docs

From there we could revise each piece of documentation in turn, rewrite it, edit it, tweak it, normalise the language and terminology between them so we used consistent names and formatting. Suddenly from a mass of text, here came the visualisation.

The short story being, that visualising things ended up working perfectly for us. What seemed an insurmountable task was now tackled by people who had never met in person, and benefitted many (albeit a hobby pursuit).

It’s a technique I will follow whether with pen and paper, or on here, to map out everything from content for a site, to a plan for a fictional character or environment. Ideas link – they flow from one to the next in logical steps, and from one idea can link many. Using this technique I am able to create far more detailed, reasoned and rounded ideas and executions, in almost any reasoning.

Bitter Ruin AR

I am a long-time fan of band Bitter Ruin. Georgia Train and Ben Richards are fantastic, creative musicians. Described as “AH-mazing” by Tim Minchin, and having toured with Amanda Palmer, they are selling out performances.

Looking at good examples of how onvert Augmented Reality might be used, I put together a quick sample and filmed it as a piece of fan art.

As such, you can sample their album, Hung, Drawn and Quartered and see them in 3D with your album cover and your phone. Download onvert viewer and visit the onvert on site to do what you see in the video above.

Be delightfully Ruined.

Photography used on site and to put together the Augmented Reality was taken by Scott Chalmers, as seen on the official website

Little Book Valentine

Not so long ago at Harmony, we made the Pocket Book of Creativity

From the Harmony website in 2012 about the project:

It began as a creative exercise turned into a beautiful piece of marketing that can be enjoyed by all. Sometimes creativity strikes when you least expect it, and at other times it appears to be beyond grasp.

Creativity is the cornerstone of Harmony’s work – it is where our clever, innovative solutions for all manner of requirements and challenges shine. We dare to be bold and create solutions for our customers to give them a unique edge in their markets.

We wanted to share our love and investment in creativity – to inspire our clients, potential customers and friends to make today different, and try something new, so the Pocket Book of Creativity was born – a guide to making sure today is different.

The process was simple – as a team we discussed how creative ideas were born, how great inventors found solutions to problems and how ideas could be dashed. The ideas tumbled onto paper to create our vision on why creativity is important.

The ideas were organised into stages of decision making, to ideas of how to induce deeper creativity, and then a set of the creative people we admire through history and across many different disciplines.
“Without ideas and creativity, we lose the ability to solve, evolve and inspire. Too often, we let the needs of the moment occupy our creative minds and forget to look beyond today, to step back and to allow the idea machine between our ears to move us forward.”

“If this pocket book does anything for you, let it be to give you time and inspiration for creativity. Enjoy.” – Company Director, Jason Higgins.

The Pocket Book was lovingly designed by Sarah Francis in her freelance capacity as Creatingle. As well as being a dear friend, Sarah is a brilliant and quirky designer and a great person to put together our ideas and text. Her design was inspirational and drew from our work and her interpretation of Harmony. We wanted the project to be different – to not instantly look like Harmony, so this outside input was invaluable.

The book was printed up by UK company Little Book who do different versions of their book layout, and supply many recognisable brands and events. As they send out samples to interested people, we found out that the Pocket Book of Creativity gets a regular outing in their set of samples. (Edit: Sarah went on to design some more for Autism West Midlands)

Little Book were considering their branding and asked for opinions on their old branding using red bubbles. I was surprised to discover that my comment about the bubbles had been selected as a winner of some champagne and bright red balloons on Valentines Day! Subsequently we were featured on the Little Book blog. I don’t remember ever winning a little competition like that, so it was a lovely surprise!

Anatomy of a QR Code User

700-anatomy-of-a-qr-code-user-usa-2011

 

Statistics compiled as part of research for onvert.com – an Augmented Reality platform. I pulled together statistics from two reports, one from Simpson Carpenter, UK and the other from comScore, both in 2011 to put together the statistics. QR code usage in America is slightly behind the UK, who are again behind Japan and neighbouring countries who are earlier adopters of technology.

The most surprising number for me were the numbers of QR codes seen on television – which seems to be a bit of a daft place to put it unless you manage to keep it on screen for an extended length of time. Waitrose did something similar one year, but failed to keep it on screen for very long. Whereas QRs are commonly described as a good method for viewing sites while on the move, 58% were scanned at home, where one might assume a laptop or desktop computer could be found.

Why I love the John Lewis website

Since moving into a new property, I’ve trawled website after website and spent long weekends in furniture shops sorting out appliances and furniture. It turns out I’m just particularly picky, and also as its my first home to furnish (I previously short term rented furnished places due to studying etc) I had a lot to discover and contemplate.

Landing on the John Lewis website was a breath of fresh air amongst other retailers (particularly electrical ones…) with their cluttered websites and confusing product comparisons. So, these are my top 4 reasons:

Clean & Uncluttered

The John Lewis brand has a lovely, clean, elegant look of it. Even in stores there are dividers in just off white with some simple sans serif font. Whitespace appreciation gives breathing space. Everything about the clarity in the JL site makes you feel relaxed. Yes, one could argue it was a bit boring but in honesty, its a lot easier to read and find things when a hundred and two things aren’t blinking at your or crushed together.

The home page has a clear focus on a top panel which showcases some great photography and interesting products. It scrolls at a rate that doesn’t make my head spin, yet commands attention. The space beneath is divided neatly with images and text that fits well in proportion, and beneath that, at least for those signed in, is a recently viewed products and a neat, functional footer.

Menus

I know some people hate them, but I appreciate a well executed drop down menu with large drop downs. With such a vast array of products, its one way to cut down on the number of clicks between your visitor and your products. The menus on the JL site are easily read. I especially liked the Home & Garden menu – I was looking for furniture at the time – as it has been split into rooms, furniture, home furnishing and shop by type.

The women and men menus have a neat little ‘highlights’ column to pick up on trends or ad campaigns, and the gift menu handily splits between type of gift, the gift recipient and the occasion making life a lot easier. Shop by brand is the only one to buck the trend as it leads to an enormous directory of all the brands the shop holds across all lines for the brand lover.

Advice

I can safely say I didn’t know much at all about fridges before attempting to buy one – other than they kept things cool. However, I discovered what frost-free meant and the different energy ratings, sizes and different styles with the advice guide John Lewis provides. This extra info may be missed by quite a few shoppers, but offers valuable advice and tips which I found impartial – rather like the partners in each store.

Product Filtering

The product filtering on John Lewis was severely lacking from most other sites I visited to compare fridge freezers. Each category of product has slightly different filters – the fridge freezers for instance have brand, price, energy rating, fridge freezer type, frost free (freezer), and then the additional filters of type, colour, width refrigeration and rating.

There are quite a number of brands, so JL have shown the popular ones and then provided a handy expansion to see all the rest of the brands if you want to narrow it down. Handily they provide a number in each category too so you know how far you’re narrowing down your options.

As you interact with the filters the products and thumbnails begin to refresh, and so do the filters below. This saves time on page loading, and allows you to change your mind quickly. Once you have the filters in place, you can reorder and compare up to four side by side which makes comparison shopping a breeze.

What do you like and dislike?

Do you disagree? Do you hate the big menus and find the filters illogical? What have you spotted that you think is neat? I’d love to hear different opinions, so leave me a comment.

The image in the header of this post is CC use of: Westfield Stratford City – John Lewis by EG Focus on Flickr.