A $5B global manufacturer needed to supply customers with thousands of documents: manuals, parts lists, how-to videos, sell sheets, and an iPad is the perfect platform. The developer, Ken Cook Company, came to us for UX and design after development had already begun, so we had to restructure all the user flows around an exisiting framework. Not an ideal process, but the result was so successful they recently white-labelled the app and released it as a product called SmartFolio, which we also helped design.
Omnigraffle, Xcode, Photoshop
What made it tricky (fun):
The challenge was to be able to put any documents into the app and not be limited in how they were organized. The navigation had to scale to accommodate an indefinite number of levels and files, and we had to create a file directory that had no hierarchy - or rather, a plastic, shifting hierarchy that would adapt to a user's preferences for browsing. Everything would be 'many-to-many' as Matt would say.
Structuring an interface around the organization of content becomes a mess when that content is undefined. A contractor can't build a wall with doors to every room when 'every' is a variable.
We realized is that there's no reason to worry about fitting all the doors when we could have as many walls as we wanted. Simply choose from a set of doors in front of you, walk into a new room and choose again. Like an animation loop you could navigate forward this way forever. All we needed at that point was a way to remember the choices you made so you could backtrack and not get lost.
Damn that thing looks good!Joe Terzieva - Lead Developer, Ken Cook