I’ve become a big fan of Todoist, an outstandingly flexible and convenient task management tool. It stands out from the competition thanks to its simplicity and ubiquity. If an idea pops into your head when you’re out and about, add it on your smartphone with the app for iOS or Android. If you’re in the office, nerd out to your heart’s content by colour-coding, clustering and prioritising tasks in the desktop version. Couple these features with its time and location-based reminders and integration with Outlook, Gmail and the major web browsers, and it’s an extremely powerful tool. Give it a try – you won’t look back.
There’s a great new article by Paul Boag on how to manage a family of brands and sub-brands online. It discusses the pros and cons of trying to house all of your assets in one “mega site” as well as the case for splitting things into individually branded smaller websites. The BBC website is held up as a good example of getting this decision right.
As the web becomes ever more visual, infographics have become increasingly popular. Now even non-designers can create them thanks to a slew of online services that can help transform your data into eye-catching images. Check out Infogr.am, Easel.ly and Piktochart to see what you can achieve.
Movies in Color is a blog showcasing the colour palettes used in classic scenes of Hollywood films. From the glorious springtime tones of Amelie, to the charmingly absurd pinks and purples of the bowling alley in The Big Lebowski, it’s a great way to find just the colour scheme you need for your latest project.
Following the closure of another tool, I’ve been on the search for a new application to monitor key phrases on Twitter. Having tried some lacklustre competitors I found the free service Twilert – and haven’t looked back. You can monitor up to 10 phrases and hashtags, and niftily you can also limit each one to a set geographical area should you wish. This is particularly handy if you work for a local or regional organisation. You then receive a daily summary sent straight to your email inbox showing tweets in your local area that mention your chosen terms. With a bit of imagination in choosing your terms, you can use Twilert for much more than basic brand monitoring. Instead it can become a gateway into a whole range of local conversations that matter to your organisation.
Inkpad is a vector drawing app for iPad. It's fantastic. The interface may look a little plain, but as soon as you begin using it the intelligence and care that have gone into the user experience become abundantly clear. Complex operations are a breeze, and it more than stands up as an on-the-go Illustrator equivalent. Highly recommended – in fact I liked it so much I even created the above alternative logo using it.
The current series of the excellent Boagworld web design podcast has focused on useful tools and apps, and its hosts have been requesting recommendations from listeners. I submitted an audio review of a user feedback tool called Qualaroo which we’ve employed this year to great effect at The Mersey Forest. My review was featured in episode 11 of the show – listen to the whole podcast on the Boagworld website (16 minutes into the episode), or hear my review on its own.
There are some great insights on the excellent Emblemetric blog, which analyses the cold hard numbers behind logo trends, spanning back to the 1950s. To find out whether monogram logos like the McDonald's “M” are rising or falling in popularity, or to see how colour trends vary over time, pay them a visit. A particularly interesting recent post looks at the surge in leaf-based logos in the past decade and whether it is now tailing off. If so, is this because of a fall in support for the environment? Or simply that as victims of their own proliferation, leaf logos have become a cliché to be avoided?
Over the last few weeks I've been excited to discover Adobe Premiere Elements – a great video editing programme that lets you move way beyond the cheap and cheerful Windows Movie Maker (nostalgic sigh…) without breaking the bank. Among its array of features, one stands out: the ability to have multiple “tracks” running in parallel, with the option to combine the audio of one with the visual of another. This simple addition enables, for example, the audio of a face-to-camera interview to continue while the picture shifts away from the interviewee to show a different shot. A simple concept, but one that's beyond the reach of free products like Movie Maker. Not only does Premiere Elements help in the creation of new videos in house, it also makes it feasible to do minor edits on work commissioned from agencies. For example I used it to insert extra footage part way through the above video, helping to keep costs down compared with re-employing the original agency (the excellent First Take in this case) to make minor changes down the line. The price? Less than £100, a steal compared with its fully fledged big brother Premiere Pro, which costs upwards of £600. The downside? It seems painfully slow on less powerful computers. But if you do have the firepower, it's well worth checking out.