As some of you may know, there are two sides of our business. We have the design studio – Entermotion and the app development side with Paste.
This puts us in a really great place. Some of us are building the apps we know the rest of us need to do our job. Since many design studios are just like us – that means (usually) there will be demand for what we build.
We’ve been tossing around an idea for a small application here lately. We have a problem tracking purchase orders for client work. Stock photos, printing, screen printing, etc. all get purchased on behalf of our clients. It is a complete mess to try and track:
- How much the vendor quoted you
- Which vendor had the best price
- If the vendor responded
- If the vendor included tax, shipping, etc.
- How much you told the client it would cost with your markup
- How much it actually cost when the job was done
We’ve been toying with the idea of building a super simple app to help our design side manage this. We’d love your feedback on whether you think it might be useful to your studio or business too. I’ve attached some super simple wireframes below.
What do you think? Would you use it? If it was free? If it was $5?
It’s a small thing, but one of the most helpful features in the new version of Jumpchart we’re building is project icons. On your account homepage, you’ll see a grid full of projects, each with their own customizable icon. If you manage lots of projects like we do, you won’t believe how such a simple thing can improve how you use Jumpchart.
A website is made up of lots of files. Website planning is all about organizing those files into a coherent structure. When we first made Jumpchart, we wanted very badly to let people organize their files on a per-page basis.
That way there was no guessing where an image or PDF went when it was time to build. Page level attachments remove all the ambiguity. There is a downside to this organization, though. How do you find one file in the middle of a hundred pages? Hopefully you’ve put the file where it makes most sense, but memory only serves us so well…
In Jumpchart 5, we’re finally solving this problem. The all new Resources section will give you an aerial view of all the files used across an entire project, including their size. It will even show you the mockups you’ve attached, along with their approval status.
We’re hoping this quick way to see all your files at once will really speed up your workflow. It should also make it much easier to see where the largest files are if you’re managing your account limits.
Here’s one last tidbit about the Resources section: We’re caching queries and using Amazon for file storage, so it’s super fast. We’re really excited to have you give it a try when we launch.
One thing we worked extremely hard on a while back was supporting multiple columns in Jumpchart. In our minds, we thought it would help with real estate on larger monitors, and also give people more flexibility with organization. After all, websites are rarely just one big column of content.
The problem is, it confused people. It made exports weirder. It was us dabbling in UI type situations when Jumpchart is supposed to be about organization, not design.
Thankfully, we’re ending all that in version 5. But for all the relief that brings, we discovered we had a new problem. How do we handle all the extra monitor space, since a column of text can only be so wide without being impossible to read?
The solution took us full circle in some ways. We brought back two columns … but they’re not indicative of layout. You always have a comfortable reading width, and we take advantage of the extra space on your monitor if you have it. It’s so cool, when we first implemented it I just sat there dragging my browser window back-and-forth like an idiot.
Our blog and Twitter have been silent for a while now. There are a few reasons, but one of the main ones is we’ve been working really hard on the new Jumpchart.
The trend with most tech companies is to keep everything very secret until it’s ready to launch. There are a lot of reasons why this is smart, but it’s also boring. We’ve sort of followed that trend without giving it too much thought up till the last few days. As it turns out, we think the benefits of sharing what we do and how we do it far outweigh the alternative.
So we may discuss some features that don’t make it to prime time. We might talk about how great something is, then change our minds later. But what’s wrong with giving ourselves that permission? We want to show you what we’re working on.
So without any more preamble, let’s talk about Jumpchart!
We thought it might be fun to catch you up on some of the incomplete designs that didn’t make it.
This one is a direct predecessor to the thinking behind the current Jumpchart. While it is a cleaner arrangement, and it led to some ideas you’ll see in the version we’re working on, we scrapped it shortly after its creation. We really wanted to do something that felt big. And we wanted it to be responsive. We started here with a basic reorganization of the app, but ended up with a total redesign.
This one started to feel better, but the organization, and hierarchy still weren’t right…
Finally, we have this incomplete mockup; it’s the last mockup we abandoned before we started on the all new Jumpchart 5 that we’ve been working on for months now. In some ways, it’s the most direct predecessor.
Next time I write, I’ll show you a little bit of what we’ve been building!
It’s time again for our annual Holiday Break. We’ll be out of the office until January 2, doing things like hanging out with friends and family, chasing kiddos around, and maybe succumbing to a nap here and there. Our response time might be a little slower than usual until we’re back in the full swing of things.
If you have an emergency during the break, just shoot us an e-mail – we’ll do our best to get you taken care of as quickly as we can.
We turned off pprka today; it will no longer be a standalone app. But like we mentioned, we have big plans for the programming, so rather than saying “goodbye,” we’re instead sticking with “see you soon!”
We evolve. We evolve as people, and we evolve as workers of the web. It’s no surprise that the apps we make evolve, too.
On that note, we have big plans for the programming that used to make pprka. However, in order to focus on the future, we need to keep what’s in the past actually in the past. So we won’t be accepting any new pprka users from here on out.
Now, all you current pprka users out there, unbunch your drawers because nothing’s changing for you. You’ll still be able to use pprka like you always have without interruptions. We just don’t see it having standalone app status in the future.
So, if you have questions, please let us know! In the meantime, cheers to evolution.
Creating something totally, completely, brand spanking new is sometimes, well… rocket science.
I don’t think that means we should quit working our tails off to create the best web app or website just because something similar has been done before. I do think it means, though, that we should not feel defeated because we’re working with ideas that existed before us.
We knew we were reinventing the wheel to some extent when Jumpchart was born. Fact: there are other website organization tools out there. Same thing with Staction and Paprika. But we felt we could do it better. We didn’t look at wheel reinvention as a negative. Instead, we recognized how important it is in the grand scheme of things. Versions are what get us to the best.
I mean think about it. Writers don’t publish an unfinished book. Architects don’t let tenants move in before the building is done. Hundreds of logos are sketched before a winner is chosen. There are steps to finishing a project, and many versions are created along the way.
Sixty years from now when we’re all old and wrinkly, there could be a revolutionized way of organizing website content that works for virtually everyone. And that’s great – it truly is.
All we hope is that Jumpchart somehow played a small part in its existence.
It feels like I’m seeing it more and more. Why do companies offer shiny, sparkly, drool-worthy deals to brand new customers, and those of us who have stuck around for years get little more than “gee, thanks?”
I’ll admit, I’m bitter about my recent experience with my cable company, but it’s opened my eyes. For years at my house we’ve been putting up with crap like intermittent service during big games, a stubborn DVR box that works only when the stars are perfectly aligned, missed recordings because of “unknown technical difficulties” and only the rarest of opportunities to talk to a real human being when we need help. Not to mentioned we get absolutely zero monetary refunds to cover our emotional damages from getting so worked up. When we finally called to find out how we can get more for our money (and threaten to take it elsewhere), we were not-so-politely told deals like that are stubbornly reserved for new customers only. I didn’t feel so much shocked as I did betrayed.
I Would Like Some Cheese with My Whine, Please.
Alright, I’m just going to say it. What about me?
I’ve paid for their service for years, and even sent them business a couple times. I trusted them to give me the best quality possible, and haven’t cancelled our account when they’ve fallen short on their promises. And then when I so desperately need them to come through for me, they made me feel like I was two inches tall and not worth their time. #bigcompanyfail Keep Reading