How about an extreme makeover for your app?

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Kind of like the Extreme Makeover Home Edition television show, On10 has an onsite video of Frog Design brainstorming a design makeover for Radiant’s restaurant point of sale system..

For awhile I’ve been chatting up a show idea like this with friends. I like the general concept: Have a design team go in and help a software company improve its product design. This particular implementation of the makeover idea is a little weak, but it’s on track.

I see this as a great idea for Microsoft (Chris Pirillo is right, a lot of Windows apps are rather lacking in the design department), although just about anyone could run with this concept and apply it to open source apps or online apps or some other category of apps.

This is what I envision: A design team spends a week onsite, working with developers at an ISV to try to develop a next generation version of an app. Actually, there would need to be a bunch of prep work, so the design team would really need to do their homework before stepping onsite. The idea would be, like that shown on10, to show some good design processes, showcase ideas that could inspire others, illustrate how some particular tools can be used, show how a particular technology improves an application, and so on.

To me the OnTo episode is not extreme enough. One day is too short. And there should be a “running” product at the end. Something inspiring. At various conferences this past year, Micrsooft has shown some cool WPF apps for Car and Driver, New York Times, a clothing store (the name escapes me right now), for instance. I’m thinking of apps at this level.

The ISV/product that’s chosen for the makeover is important. It should be someone/something that people identify with. That when given a makeover inspires. A POS app could fit into this category, but I’d pick one with a stronger story line. Let’s say someone has built a utility that people a lot of people are finding useful, but the design taken to the next level would make it really stand out.

My gutt tells me that the product/ISV is going to have to come from a smaller rather than a large company. Helping AOL to design some product or another isn’t going to be that inspiring. Take a small startup trying to do something innovative or serve an interesting market and now you have something that people will smile about. Will talk about.

It’s also probably obvious that the ISV has to be willing. There can’t be battles over tecnology rights either. And personalities are going to matter. You want the people to be inspiring. You want the audience to be inspired.

I’d really like to see something like this. I can think of a couple Tablet apps, for instance, that could use a makeover 🙂

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15 years ago

Hi Loren, glad to see that Extreme Makeover concept resonates with you. This was our first attempt at such a thing, and I agree that we have plenty of room for improvement next time around 😉 If you have a particular Tablet app in mind that could benefit from a makeover, and is currently undergoing development, drop me a note via my blog and we can get in touch. The updated gesture and ink APIs in Vista should offer some good room for improvement in a Tablet app.