Stop hiding in R & D, make it fast and move on.

With less than four weeks till Tom Grinstead (and everyone else for that matter) want to see what we've made it's time to turn off non essential email

Claire Reddington asked the Books and Print projects 'Are we hiding behind the physical?'. Our project, Digitising the Dollar Princess is intrinsically woven with the physical book as we are invite people to explore Mary Curzon's life by flipping their way backwards and forwards through the pages of a digital book. As we talk to possible persona's, we are very much aware that we might be asking them to step too far outside of their comfort (and hardware) zone. Having put together a swift 10 question survey, one that we hoped would open people up and get them feeding back, a librarian friend informed me she couldn't answer the survey as it she didn't understand it. So for the time being, it feels like our book backdrop strikes a reassuring balance between the traditional and the new.

'Just make something and move on'. I'm very conscious of this as we've been considering the impact of Mary's archive materials, which stories to tell and therefore which content to express order. On the practical side we've deliberated on colour boards and iconic images for each of our tabs that allow the readers to explore the book, but with 4 weeks to go it's time to draw a line - and move forward with what we've got. 

'Make something fast' is another sandbox mantra courtesy of Leila Johnston . We've had an outstanding theme of Ceremony to design (partly as key to this theme was Mary Curzon's famous peacock dress at Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire ), encouraged by how the conversation is progressing we penned the shape of Ceremony on the train up to the PM studio. Picking up an email from Pat, the developer we learned that we can hook into the Dropbox api. This means that by setting up content container folders in dropbox for Nicola to deposit her authored text - the app can sync and grab, sworphing* the words through the clouds and onto the page. (Ahem new word recently learnt: the act of swiping and morphing = sworph). The last bit of train project serendipity (you see our supposed 'fast train', turned into the slow, stop everywhere sort which gave us space to work fast) was our homework 'Describe your project in a tweet' this was a definite nudge for us as a team, even though time's short putting our social media and marketing opportunities to the bottom of the list is a sin. So we posted our first @marycurzon tweet, here it is. What do you think? 

Lady Curzon's life: explore, navigate & research materials through an illuminated digital biography app


'Stay faithful to your idea and maintain the integrity of your project' I can't remember whose words they were but we like them. Although we call it content (a nice short word that we all understand). What, we are actually referring to are intimate telegrams, personal diary extracts, materials and dress sketches, excursion itineraries, family photo's taken by Mary and official photography taken by the  celebrated Indian Photographer, Lala Deen Dayal. It is Nicola's role to portray a balanced account with written content that draws in the reader, it is my responsibility to produce an engaging experience for a curious reader not just a clicking voyeur.
Kim Plowrights insight into the development process rang haunting true for me, I wonder if the foresight and advance planning for the end can level out the the all too often despondency experienced at the end of the development cycle. Certainly identifying and planning for your reader drop offs and your next phase cycles has the potential to help with this. I think as a team we should come back and really try and identify the project heartaches, to see if through UI design or content these can be mitigated in anyway.
Back in the office and the NFC bookmark R &D is underway, our app now opens up locked 'stories'  when an NFC content loaded bookmark is near the Nexus. The next plan is to make a couple of different NFC bookmarks and test out some user cases and gather 'scale of annoyance' feedback! The week then finished on a lovely high when we saw some of the icons which the reader will use to explore the app in situ. Note Mary Curzon had nothing to do with a crocodile or Simon's cat!