Wednesday, March 24, 2010
When designing a new product, it is important to define “what it is” but it is equally important to define “what it is not.”
At the very beginning of Bee Docs Timeline, I decided that our software would not be a graphic design focussed application. What I mean by that is that it does not include many features for tweeking graphics and fonts, adjusting page layout, or modifying lines, shapes, individual words, etc...
Instead, I aimed to build software that would make very good looking timeline charts as simply and quickly as possible. I wanted to make a product that would make our customers look good, whether or not they had any graphic design skills.
However, there are certainly situations where detailed graphic design tweeks are critical. For example, Margaret and Phil Goodfellow recently told us about a book they authored that contains timelines, maps, and other graphics that all conform to the style established by the book designer. Here is an example of one of the timelines:
To build a graphic like this, the authors took advantage of the strengths of several different software applications. First, they used Bee Docs Timeline to enter and edit the events as well as to establish the basic layout of the events within the timeline.
Next, they exported the timeline from Bee Docs Timeline as a PDF and opened the PDF with Adobe Illustrator. In Illustrator they adjusted the layout to best communicate the content of their chart.
Finally, the authors sent the Illustrator files to their book designer who adjusted the visual design to match the rest of the book.
Congratulations to Margaret and Phil Goodfellow for publishing such a great looking book. It is a wonderful example of using multiple tools to build something that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Hopefully it inspires everyone reading this to create something beautiful too!
More information on the book can be found at: www.contemporarytoronto.ca