A promo video of sorts for the Idea Spark iOS app.

I’ve been thinking of doing a promo video showcasing the Idea Spark iOS app for a while, but I just couldn’t decide how I wanted to do it.  The current trend amongst startups is to release glossy marketing videos with upbeat music, but in all honesty I am personally very tired of this sort of communication between creators and their customers.  Seeing something generic like that has very little impact on my own saturated senses, and I figure I’m not the only one.

So I thought to myself: what is it that I consider the most important thing when I am looking at buying an app?  Well, usability is what immediately jumped to my mind; I want to know how an app works so that I can envision how it will fit in my life.  Grand promises on a marketing statement don’t mean much to me amidst the plethora of other grand promises that are made constantly, and too often these promises are oversold and lead to disappointment.  I would rather be shown that something works and embodies those promises, without the superficial layer of varnish.

With that in mind, I put together a promo video that simply shows the workflow of the Idea Spark iOS app.  Simply put, the app is a tool to help artists get out of creative ruts by suggesting new ideas, but beyond that I’ll let the app speak for itself.  I composed the music myself and edited it up to my standards as a visual storyteller, and have released it to the world in hopes that it is clear and communicative about my vision for the app in the pockets of fellow creatives.  It’s simple, effective, and beautiful just like I designed the app to be.

Check out the Idea Spark Workflow Demonstration on Youtube:

Reclaim your Google Analytics by stopping Referrer Spam

One of the latest plagues on the internet has been an abundance of referrer spam.

A definition from Wikipedia so we all are clear on what referrer spam is:
“Referrer spam (also known as log spam or referrer bombing) is a kind of spamdexing (spamming aimed at search engines). The technique involves making repeated web site requests using a fake referer URL to the site the spammer wishes to advertise.”

Over the past few months, I have personally noticed a huge increase in odd referrers to my website.  Suspicious, unrelated URLs like: site3.free-share-buttons.com, social-buttons.com, and semalt.com (to just name a few).

My original thought was, “…why are these folks interested in *xyz* content?”  Well, turns out they aren’t.  What they are interested in is someone like me looking at the referral logs, getting curious about their own url, and typing it in to my browser navigation bar.  They aren’t even coming to the websites, but are instead just scanning through the different Google Analytics IDs in an incremental way (kind of the way we get robocalled on our phones: 555-555-0001, 555-555-0002, etc. but with UA-000001, UA-000002, etc).

The good news is, since they aren’t actually visiting the website we can filter out their traffic from analytics reports with filters.  My favourite method is to create a valid hostname filter within Google Analytics, where we specify all the domains we are using are Google Analytics ids on and ignore all the other “ghost domains”.  I like this method over other methods out there because it only uses one filter, and it has proved itself by working flawlessly on all the domains I manage over the past few months in which I’ve implemented it.

A nod over to the folks at Ohow who wrote a great guide on how to set this up for yourself – check it out:
OHow’s guide to stop referral spam

Idea Spark App – the .0.1 update

A big thanks to all the beta testers and early adopters who took the time to explore our Idea Spark iOS app.

By far, the most popular feature request was filter options on the history page.  A lot of you were looking for ways to sift through your data, which can really pile up when you have been using the app for a while.

We are happy to announce that with this latest update a right sidebar has been added to to the history page to allow you to filter your ideas by status or dates.  We also went ahead and expanded our idea database for you – to the tune of 10,000+ more new, unique ideas.

We hope you enjoy this update, and please continue to use our support form to send us your suggestions and feature requests.

Idea Spark – Version 1.0.1 details:
-Added filters to History page (you can now filter the ideas that are listed by status or date range)
-Added more than 10,000 unique ideas
-Small bug fixes

Visit the official Idea Spark website or check it out on Apple’s iTunes app store.

Idea Spark - History Filters Screenshot

Idea Spark is live!

Idea Spark App Logo

Dun, da da dahhhhh!  I am happy to announce that our new app, Idea Spark, is now live on the iTunes store.  Creatives, this one is for you.

Idea Spark is a tool for sparking your creative fire.  Photographers, authors, painters, cooks…all of us sometimes get stuck coming up with new ideas.  As with most things in life, the hardest part is getting started.  That’s where this app comes in: the short phrases you generate are seeds for your own creative interpretation and exploration.

Hand drawn illustrations are coupled with a clean and simple design, meaning that the Idea Spark app doesn’t look like all the others.  This design embodies the very thing this app aims to inspire within you: to create something unique and individual in a world where much is the same.

Check it out here.

Wabi-sabi Aesthetic

Illustrated Icons

Aesthetic taste is subjective.  Two people may stand in an art gallery looking at the exact same exhibit and have completely opposite experiences; and yet neither of them are incorrect in that which they feel.  There are no universal rights or wrongs when it comes subjective perception, just different experiences.

With that in mind, I would like to speak a bit to what I appreciate.  As an artist, my personal preferences don’t always align with the dominant ones.  Currently, a popular trend is absolute perfection.  In life, perfection is an unattainable ideal; fixation upon which leads to inevitable disappointment.  However in the world where we can utilize computers to create perfect vectors and graphics, it is now possible to attain it on a small scale.  But, is this beautiful?

Again we hit a point where our answer to this question is subjective.  Often it is one we only subconsciously answer in the form of a positive or negative reaction.  As creators however, I believe it is important to consider these things more consciously.   Only then can you develop your own unique vision and style.  Only then can you move beyond being a trend follower to doing something truly unique.

Back to the idea of perfection.  Personally, I find perfection to be incredibly boring.  To me, a zen circle smeared in paint has so much more character than a perfect circle created by a mathematical formula.  I see beauty in imperfection.  Imperfection is the detail that sets something apart.  Imperfection hints at an underlying story of its very existence.  Imperfection is something to appreciate rather than loathe.

Wabi-sabi is the Japanese concept of appreciation and acceptance of imperfection and impermanence.  It is seeing the beauty of a handmade ceramic cup.  It is the melancholic ache evoked in the seclusion, imperfection, and frugality of Japanese gardens.

I subscribe to this concept, and with it in mind I am designing my next mobile application to include many human imperfections.  Graphics will be images scanned from an illustrator’s pen and paper, to be put together to form an interface more reminiscent of working on a pad of paper than a phone.  It is nearing completion (expect more information and an October 2014 release) and I can honestly say that even just the app icon really stands out on the iTunes’ store.  I can’t say how someone else might react to it, but to me it is beautiful and refreshing.  I eagerly look forward to sharing it with all of you.

Pictured above: A glimpse of some rough scanned illustrations for an upcoming app named Idea Spark