Business Startup Week 5: A New Look
Last week I spent several days working with Android, putting finishing touches to a small app I plan to release to the Market. I also started revising some of the interface screens in Amberleaf after posting for feedback on Freelance Switch.
What started out as small revisions turned into completely redesigning the general theme of the site. As a result, Amberleaf will soon be sporting a brand new look, which should make the site more pleasant to use. For now, here's a sneak preview of the development builds:
The new pages present important account and hosting information more clearly, but it was the form screens that were most in need of a revamp. Currently, forms are built using Rails' default helpers and some basic styles which, whilst functional, don't offer a clear and intuitive process for people to follow.
The new forms are much clearer and being designed for fast data entry. The screencast shows an in-development preview; the next step is to get rid of the date dropdowns and implement a nice datepicker UI element. Many of the new overview screens (such as the domains list in the preview video) now offer inline AJAX entry to further speed up record management.
Coming Soon: Branding Decision
I'm still undecided on the chocolate or white/mint theme for Plymouth Software's branding. If I find some spare moments this week, I'll spend some time on the website to see how things looks. As predicted, Claire hijacked a couple of hours this week to work on some designs for ExpressVA Services business cards!
On Wednesday, I had a long-overdue catch-up with Craig at StasisMedia. It's always great to hear how other businesses are getting on, and hearing of Craig's success and plans for StasisMedia is a great motivator. He's now at the stage of expanding the business to take on a PHP developer which is excellent news. You can find out more about his work at stasismedia.com. Craig also offered some excellent suggestions for Amberleaf's API development, and how it might tie into third-party services such as Freshbooks, as well as custom apps.
Plymouth Flavour Festival
Not strictly business related, Claire and I headed into Plymouth's Flavour Festival last weekend. It was a lovely sunny morning and again, inspiring to see such a variety of small, local businesses at the festival, a couple of highlights being Devonshire Tea (an obvious choice :) and Browne's, whose clotted-cream fudge we sampled on the day - Claire was hooked. Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without our first Rowe's pasty since we got back home.
I'm excited about what's planned this week. First on the list is getting my Android app published on the Market after it's undergone some final testing. I signed up for an Android Market Developer account this week ($25 one-time signup - take note Apple). You can watch out for it on the Market, or follow Plymouth Software for announcements on Twitter. I'll also be continuing to develop the new Amberleaf screens, although these are likely to take some time as I'm using the opportunity to pull in a lot of oft-requested functionality.
Amberleaf is a tool for web designers and developers to manage their domains and hosting accounts. Signing up takes a few seconds, and includes a 30 day free trial. After that, it's just £4.95 a month with no minimum term contract. Check it out today at https://amberleafapp.com/.