Monthly Archives: October 2012

Guest Host for the 11/4/12 #storyappchat: Jannie Ho!

Jannie Ho: Chickengirl DesignEver met an artist who loves chickens? Meet Jannie Ho, writer and illustrator of children’s picture books. She’s worked on more than 20 picture books for young children, including The Mixed Up Alphabet (Steve Metzger, author) which is available in digital form as part of Scholastic’s Storia ebook collection. Appropriately enough, her site is called Chickengirl Design, and you can check out her wonderfully fun art style with a look at her Flickr photostream, her blog and at her page on the Art House Co-Op.

We’ll have a loosely-structured Q & A with this talented artist, so get your questions ready. Plus, Jannie has a book that’s just come out: The Great Christmas Crisis, available from Sterling Children’s Books, which shows us what happens at the North Pole when the elves have had enough!

This fantastic chat kicks off this Sunday night (Nov. 4) at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/6:00 p.m. Pacific, so join us, mmmmmmkay?

Transcript for the 10/28/12 #storyappchat: the Post-Mortem

Is there anything spookier than taking an honest look at your newest creation and evaluating it from top to bottom, warts and all? Apparently, that’s exactly what game designers do after the release of a new title, and based on the ideas shared in the transcript above, this is a concept that would work well for app developers as well.

According to our own @DavidBFox, you can do a search on YouTube and view post-mortems on many popular games, to get an idea of how to do one. Check out the transcript for other links to these, and get David’s sage advice on the process.

Remember: we gather every Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/6:00 p.m. Pacific time to talk shop about storybook apps. Don’t miss next week (November 4) when we’ll welcome @JannieHo, famed children’s book illustrator. Get your questions ready for her, and we’ll see you then!

Topic for the 10/28/12 #storyappchat: Post-Mortem

PostMortemDavid Fox, #storyappchat’s resident game/interactive expert, tells us that a ‘post-mortem’ in the game design world is when everyone involved in the development of a project gets together after its release to hash out the ‘gory details.’ In other words, what worked, what didn’t–what were the big messes and how to avoid them next time.

So we thought: what better time than right before Halloween to introduce the idea of a post-mortem in the storybook app realm? If the game designers can benefit from this concept, why can’t we? David will help us fully understand the best practices for introducing the post-mortem into our workflows, and we can all share our own horror stories. Misery loves company, right? Plan on stopping by this Sunday (October 28) evening at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT for all the fun!

Transcript for the 10/21/12 #storyappchat: Animations/Interactivity

We enjoyed a robust discussion on the topic of animations and interactions in storybook apps, with several experts and industry veterans chiming in. If you weren’t able to make it, enjoy the ugly but complete transcript above with our compliments, and plan to stop by for next Sunday’s special Post Mortem chat, October 28 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/6:00 p.m. Pacific.

Topic for the 10/21/12 #storyappchat: Animations and Interactivity

#storyappchat topic badgeWhy turn a kid’s book into an app? There seem to be a lot of people asking this question, and for good reason. After all, print books are wonderful in and of themselves. Why create book apps at all?

Obviously those of us here at #storyappchat have strong opinions on this, mostly in favor of creating for tablet and mobile devices. But I believe the following question should be asked at the beginning of the creation (writing, illustrating, designing, coding) process: Can this story best be told in app form? And if so, what interactive features should be included in order to enhance/uplift/further the story? Here’s a good post which talks a bit about how the process of creating an app is different from creating a print book–from the ground up.

We’ve all seen book apps that feature an already-beloved print book with some extra animations, sounds and/or puzzles included, in now familiar, expected and distracting ways. I wonder if the app-buying public isn’t already a little tired of this approach. App publishers seem to be listening, too, based on the new features added to several of the Oceanhouse Media titles.

What are those features that really belong in a storybook app–those features that engage, surprise and delight children (and parents), instead of just existing as an excuse to crank out yet another story in app form?

Let’s discuss, debate and hash out this issue during the next #storyappchat on Sunday, October 21 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/6:00 p.m. Pacific. Just start using the #storyappchat hashtag in your tweets around then to join us!

Transcript for the 10/14/12 #storyappchat: Typography

A few typographic principles emerged during the chat last night. Here they are.

Unless you are a trained graphic designer:

  • Do not use more than three fonts for any one project
  • Never use display typefaces for text–choose fonts in the Book or Text category for your storybook app
  • Use serif fonts for the main text of your project–a serif font is slightly easier to read than a san-serif font
  • Use black text on a white background (or at least know that there should be a high level of contrast between the dark text and a light background)
  • Left justify your text rather than full justifying it, and never right justify text
  • Do not put drop shadows, outlines or other effects on text you want people to read. Ever!
  • Don’t condense or extend your text artificially. Find and use the condensed or extended version of a typeface instead
  • Use bold and italic sparingly

And last but not least: break these and other typographic rules only if you know what you are doing, and only for a very good reason! Check out the entire transcript above, complete with several links to typographic resources.

Remember, we get together every Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/6:00 p.m. Pacific. Join us anytime!

Topic for the 10/14/12 #storyappchat: Typography

#storyappchat topic badgeThose of us who create apps for kids often must wear a lot of hats. From time to time we need to slip into the role of writer, illustrator, coder, developer, marketing expert, educator, and entrepreneur. The role of graphic designer often gets overlooked, but it is an important role if you want your end product to be as professional and exciting as possible.

But typographer? Most of us won’t need to create our own typefaces for our apps, but a basic understanding of the world of letterforms is at least helpful. Have any of the following questions ever occurred to you:

  • What size and color should my on-screen text be?
  • What font should I use?
  • What is the difference between legibility and readability?
  • Which typefaces are easiest for kids to read?
  • What is the difference between a typeface and a font?

Brooks (that’s me!) has some graphic design experience and is happy to share some links/knowledge on this subject. These and other burning questions (bring your own!) will be explored at the next #storyappchat on Sunday, October 14 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/6:00 p.m. Pacific. Lookin’ forward to seeing you!

P.S. In the meantime, you can take a look at the following resources I dug up for you.

Typography 101 from DesignShack

Type Basics Article at Mashable

Type Terminology at I Love Typography

Type Infographic at Fast Company