Tuesday Jul 20 '10The Thrill of the Chase and how it helped launch Dodocase

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I've been a fan of Shopify for a while now - not just because they're fellow Canadians (based in Ottawa), but mainly due to their excellent hosted-ecommerce service. We're proponents of building context-sensitive web spaces however, often budgets can't afford us building clients a full-blown custom shopping system - that's when I'm proud to recommend using Shopify - they make setting up shop easy and offer extensibility through APIs and the ability to custom-theme a hosted store (using their easy in-house template language called Liquid).

Teaming up with published entrepreneur Tim Ferriss (he wrote a popular book called the 4 Hour Workweek), Shopify just announced winners to an amazing contest they cooked up - the idea was simple; a $100,000 top prize would be awarded to whomever did the two highest consecutive months of sales through a new Shopify store, with their help, in a 3 - 6 month period. Now, its tough to tell how effective the goal of winning prizes was to the thousands of Shopify customers who entered the contest but its interesting to look at the winner of the Grand Prize; a San Francisco-based iPad accessory maker called Dodocase.

As the New York Times reported yesterday, Dodocase was founded by two chaps (one of which is a Y-combinator alumnus) who saw a need for related products to sell alongside Apple's iPad. Patrick Buckley began designing a classic case for the iPad which, in my opinion, has been styled to mimic the internationally renowned Moleskin notebook. Taking his prototype to local book-binders, the firm was launched and began taking orders through their Shopify-powered e-store, receiving 10,000 orders for their cases in just a few months after their launch.

Now, $100,000 of gifted investment can help any start-up but its interesting to see that at $60ish per unit, Dodocase has been highly profitable straight out of the gate. Patrick Buckley and Craig Dalton may have created their product without the incentive of winning this competition but I think its safe to assume that once they saw their product sales coming in, their goal may not have just been to win the Grand Prize. Sometimes such a carrot can take an entrepreneur's mind off of profit goals beyond a short term period; which has apparently aided the success of 500 such Shopify stores launched during the competition - who all realized some financial sustainability by its end.

I've above-attached an info-graphic with some interesting numbers Shopify derived from the competition and will keep an eye out for comparisons between regular Shopify store sales stats.

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Monday Jul 19 '10Featured background images by Tanakawho

The new set of backgrounds on our site comes thanks to Tanakawho - an excellent photographer in Tokyo who has gained some fame on Flickr thanks to her keen eye for capturing innate sentiment in objects whilst maintaining a natural sense of balance. She works mainly with point-and-shoot cameras and produces some of our most favorite photos on the web.

The images load in random rotation throughout the site and are also available as a pop-up gallery by clicking on the above thumbnails.

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)

Monday Jul 19 '10JUMA's Spring-Summer 2010 Launch Video

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This video got cut and released a little while back to announce our friends at JUMA's Spring-Summer 2010 collection's launch. Inspired by our May 2010 Studio Series podcast episode, JUMA chose to soundtrack the video with Neon Indian's excellent 'Summer Heat.'

I really enjoy how rough the video is - right from the over-exposed footage to the use of pause-motion overlays and quick scene-cuts.

Wednesday Jul 14 '10Using Imagecache to provide a hover state image (preview)

Often cases it can be useful to display a larger version of an image to the site user when they hover their mouse over a thumbnail on your site (a simpler interface than the magnification idea I've blogged about). 

There is a ton of javascript floating around out there on the Web which you can use to do this but I've just come across a cool drupal module (Hover Preview for Imagecache) that integrates cleanly with imagecache; allowing you to choose a hover relationship between any two imagecache presets on node field displays as well as in Views!

Tuesday Jul 13 '10How the Guardian newspaper is futureproofing its relevance

For a long time it seems newspapers have been crying out for the blood of pseudo-journalists who use the web to publish rapidly, and often case, without adequate research, grammatical acumen and so on. This is why it was so bloody refreshing to have just came across something which exemplifies the need for Newspapers to maintain their relevance in the 21st century through innovation and the welcoming embrace of technology.

The Guardian newspaper has initiated an 'Open Platform.' The embedded slideshow in this post will lead you through it but basically, they've created Application Programming Interfaces (or APIs) to their wealth of content online! This means that the public can create web tools and spaces that feature content from the Guardian online - using that content as their main crowd-draw, more easily than ever before. A fantastic example of the platform in use is a site called 'What could I cook?' - it pulls in recipes from the Guardian, displaying them alongside other/local content with the cited author being the Guardian.

The ramifications of this embrace of technology are huge; should enough sites use the platform, the Guardian, by way of its leveraged content base, will become an essential source for other people's business models and communities online. Whether a direct business model is forthcoming through this approach remains to be seen but for now, I think its a clever gambit for an age-old business to maintain relevance in today's technocratic society.

Monday Jul 12 '10Greater creative possibilities for Android thanks to Google App Inventor

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Though apps released through Google's Marketplace for Android mobile devices may not be as numerous or jazzy as Apple's bevvy of micro software developed for iPods/Pads/Phones, something's just happened to make it incredibly accessible to anyone with a creative idea for an app.

Announced recently, the Google App Inventor for Android is a very simple interface to allow virtually anyone (it was created with school children as initial testers) to create an Android App. Using a simple graphical lego-like drag'n'drop program, you can now create your own apps in seconds - just like this video shows.

*On a related note, I've been doing a lot of research lately into new hardware devices sporting the Android Operating System which will challenge the iPad's market-share and attractiveness. My findings will be posted here later this week and I'll try to explain then why the App Inventor may play a large role in self-promoting adoption of Android to consumer electronics users.

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)