1. What was the main driver behind setting up YUDU’s creative services team?
Tools like iBooks Author can give you great results and we are really happy with most of the work that we have produced in that regard, however producing a cool digital product is only half of what you need to do to make it a commercial success. We feel that extending our experience and creativity to the YUDU platform gives us much more control over the end experience and the added value that we can offer our customers. For example, communicating the intricacies of every eBook platform and what you could or couldn’t do was not an ideal situation to be in. Our cross platform solution doesn’t give us those restrictions. We also gain the advantage of the app stores being better at discoverability than the eBook stores at this moment in time.
The broad skills that we initially developed producing eBooks: Attention to detail, production scheduling, UX design and HTML development help us to support our customers wanting to produce award winning apps. While we will continue to support our publishing customers who want to make the most out of our eBook services, I think we are most excited about how we can achieve great innovations with our existing app framework.
2. How does the workflow work? What have you learned about workflows?
Workflows are in constant need of review when you are dealing with new bits of technology and software. We need to factor in time to deal with any surprising bugs that may occur in the process with whichever piece of technology we are using and we have to be aware of how changing operating systems affect the products we are producing. This is all taken into consideration when we create a production schedule for our customers. Our motto is to under promise and over deliver, so we always err on the side of caution when quoting delivery dates.
Having said that, the workflow with YUDU publisher is much more streamlined than any of the eBook workflows we have worked with to date. It certainly helps that 99% of the time, how a document works on one device is how it works on another. However, this gets more complicated when you are dealing with HTML5 animations as not all the default browsers out there have the same rendering capability as each other. Cross platform support is getting better all the time, but we are not quite there yet. It also makes a huge difference being in control of the core software. For example, if we see a bug in any part of the system, we can get it fixed immediately with our internal development team. When we were solely developing eBooks for the various eBook platforms we were at the mercy of the retailers (Apple, Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Google, etc.), and we would have to wait for them to support a specific feature. For many of them, we are still waiting.
3. How important is design in the process of developing apps?
If you consider that you cannot produce content that stimulates your senses of touch and smell on a digital device (yet!), visual design is probably one of the most fundamental things you must give an app.
The app market is fickle. If people do not enjoy using your product, they will simply delete it from their device and install something else. You do not have the benefit of an enthusiastic shopkeeper telling you how great an app is. There are reviews that can assist in downloads, but for most consumer facing apps you need to earn your place on that device. Whereas there may be some tolerance of poorly designed websites, this is not the case for apps. Poorly designed apps won’t last long on a device and it is as simple as that.
Good digital design is not just about making things look pretty on screen, it is understanding the user and what makes them love your product; It is about thinking how big their fingers are; it is about caring about pixels. It is sometimes about thinking where someone will use a product just as much as how they will use it and how long it will take them to find what they are looking for. However a good product requires both designers and developers working in harmony. When we get that, we create great things.
4. Which project are you most proud of and why?
We were chuffed that Apple chose “England’s 100 best views” by Profile books as one of their “Best of 2013” iBooks Author titles, but in terms of a project coming in on time and on budget, I would say the work we did for the English FA. We took their PDFs and some video content, and delivered a product that makes it really easy for the football coaches to find what they are looking for.
5. What would be the creative team’s dream project to work on?
Tough one. I think that would provoke a different response from each us, as we all have different interests. For me, I would like to get my teeth stuck into some Natural History project with some great CGI footage, maybe something like “Charting the History of the Giant Squid”, with David Attenborough contributing to the creative direction of the project!