Desk

An App Story

A Truly Consistent Writing Experience

trusty-typewriter

A trustworthy and never-changing friend.

One of the reasons that I decided to build Desk was because I wanted a truly consistent experience with my writing efforts that wasn’t entirely dependent on the sometimes dramatic changes that would occur at the blogging software level.

In other words, I didn’t want to change my writing experience because the software and technology was continuing to evolve.

Just as the pen and paper are eternally unchanging and because they are all you truly need to capture and document your thoughts, I wanted digital counterparts (e.g. instruments and tools) that would forever stay consistent.

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Gaining Traction

traction-bookThe #1 challenge for any startup is building traction (outside a great product or service).

Unfortunately, for many engineering-lead startups building the product is much, much easier and marketing and gaining traction comes in at a very distant second in terms of focus, time, and energy.

The problem is that gaining traction needs to be given the attention it deserves. How does one do that when you’re the only one of the team? That’s tough and I haven’t been the best at making it happen.

But thankfully I have this book, Traction, that provides a clear strategy and method for gaining ground and my hopes is to follow it closely as I build this little app up.

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On The Importance of Storytelling

city

I’ve already shared some of my thoughts on storytelling and how it’s very much a part of who we are as people and what really moves and drives a lot that we do.

I believe in storytelling so much so that much of how I talk about Desk is centered around this critical idea: That our culture and history as a people group and race hinge on our ability to tell, create, capture, and express stories of who we are and what experience.

It’s how we learn, grow, and evolve as individuals. It sets the stage and creates meaning for not just how we do things but also the more important questions such as why:

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A Developer’s Signature

desk-aboutEvery desktop app has a little menu link that pops up with some more information about the actual app itself.

Typically, you’ll see some standard verbiage like the version and some copyright information.

But, on occasion, you’ll find a little bit that the developer has added to flavor it up. In many ways I see this as the “developer’s signature” just like how artists will sign their creative work.

I’ve added a small bit about how this app has been in my mind and on my heart for many, many years. 12 years to be exact (I did my math incorrect … whoops, have to change that!).

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On Error Notifications

error-notifications

Something that I’ve been working on for the final product are all the Error Notifications that the user might encounter during the use of the application.

This is a massive point of introspection for the product developer and designer as you realize how many opportunities for user failure that might exist.

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On Shortcuts and Human Interface Design

Shortcuts are so important for the productive writer not to mention the software developer and I plan on having a ton of them. In fact, over the last few months I’ve experimented and iterated on developing them for nearly every single action available to the end-user.

I know that most people will not use them as the usage of shortcuts is still somewhat specialized but for those that care about maximizing their speed and production rate they will find some neat treasures in the app.

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New Look to iTunes Connect

Now that’s pretty cool. Just in time for my submission! It’s definitely more pretty, to say the least. Whether or not it’s easier to navigate and use… I’ll have to give it some more time before I make that judgment.

This is what it looked like previously.

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Using Standard Help Area

help-area

I’m working on building on the Help Area of the app and I’ve realized a few interesting things.

The first is that you should use the standard Title Bar so that you can include the search feature which I believe is a must-have. Everyone loves search and it is a defacto way of navigating content these days.

The second is that if you create your own Help Window, which might be of interest to those who want to customize the design a lot, you won’t be able to see the window in Help Center and you won’t be able to perform search as well via Menu > Help > Search:

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Thoughts on Landing Pages

new-landing-page

I’m working on the new landing page for when the app is finalized and ready for download. It’ll be a very “trim” and focused landing page that should highlight only what is needed to get potential users excited.

Or, that’s what I hope will happen.

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An Updated UI [Sneak Peek]

simple-interface

I feel like I’ve been at 99% for so long that I can barely remember a time when the core app wasn’t actually usable.

Of course, I’m being somewhat hyperbolic here as I can obviously remember a time when this application was just stuck in my very head and not much of anything.

But, the last few months I’ve been using the application in the wild (as well as 50+ alpha testers) and I’ve been spending that time refining the system to a fine point.

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