The Multi-Functional Abbiss


There are plenty of (free) apps on the market that can you can do amazing thing with. Some of those apps we use almost every day. However only relatively few users optimise the use of these apps.

This has everything to do with their design. Most of them gathered a large user base through the years with one primary function that people got to like and use. New functions were added gradually, but due to the familiarity of the design and the primary use for the larger part of the users, the new functions had to be stuffed somewhere within the existing design. In many cases the word ‘hidden’ is more appropriate.

And sometimes the users just don’t want to use the enhanced app for anything else than what it was originally designed for. Often because the new functions are not clear, require too many buttons or too much thinking, or because users can be very conservative and stubborn. On the other hand, the marketing department of the software often fails to draw the people into the new features by lack of an interesting tutorial, and try to get the job done with a few blinking arrows and a line of explanation on the screen.

A real multi-functional app is a bit of a gamble to create. It requires a design that is prepared for more functions, or in other words, designers have to project new functions for a number of follow-up versions of the app before they start developing it and prepare the design for them. This may sound very logical, but it isn’t. The main reason is that multi-functionality – interesting as the concept may seem – will look complex if the interface is not done right. We believe at this moment, there are very few multi-functional apps that have an interface that enables the required smooth and intuitive multi-funtional design.

Fact is, that  Apple designed a great concept when introducing the first iPhone and the app store. Many people have made good money on designing great apps, but unfortunately, most of these apps don’t communicate with each other. That is why we believe there is a great opportunity in designing a multi-functional application with a great intuitive interface and a design in which no functions are less reachable than any other. And that is exactly what we believe we realised with the HowAbout application that will be released in november. Every upcoming version will introduce new functions, so that users can roll into it step by step.

So far we have projected a 4 year release schedule, which will develop the app from an organiser with even-based photo-sharing to a full fledged… Well, you will find out as it happens.

We sure hope you will be as exited as we are about it’s release.

Update : As so often is the case with apps, we didn’t release in time. We did present a working prototype in November, but the final release is delayed. Follow this blog or our twitter account to stay in touch. It will be out within months.

The Privacy Thing


In our May article on Google’s ‘Allo’ application, we already suggested the app looks much of a governmental spying tool on your private communications. Now, RT reports Edward Snowden is saying the same thing. Google has backed away from it’s privacy promises and given 100% availability of conversations on police requests and neglected the privacy settings of the individual users.

And recently, Facebook announced that Whatsapp data will be shared with Facebook, and since Facebook is also in the pocket of the US government, those data are no longer safe either.

Makes you wonder why people keep using Whatsapp and Messenger, although we can imagine China will be screening Wechat communication as well. Research and Snowden already pointed out that Microsoft’s Skype is also very likely to be unsafe. All togehter these three take the greater part of mobile communication in the US. As if there are no safer alternatives, it almost feels like US citizens WANT to give up their privacy.

This rises the question whether the public is simply conceding. Are we giving up privacy because the govt. can probably get our data anyway? Is this the way society is going to move forwards? With governmental efforts on enforcing the ‘cashless society’ on us, it is likely that people will end up accepting the idea that governments will be able to get to your money if they want to. Will they concede to that as well in time?

I strongly believe an alternative should be constructed where free circulation of money and communication is possible without governmental control. I believe terrorism is just an excuse for governments to getting their hands on more taxes and to control the money in case they screw up the economy. The fact that countries, states and municipalities are more and more unable to pay the high cost of the welfare state illustrates this vividly.






What’s in a Name?


Brand awareness is the single most important thing in scaling your product. It takes a catchy name and a recognisable logo. Without them, it will take a whole lot more time and money to achieve this, unless you have help from a unique and wanted product. With HowAbout, I believe we have a catchy name, and inspired by Nike, I decided to give our logo a premium position inside the app.

Since the HowAbout button is the key feature of HowAbout app, I decided to make it more than just an anonymous button. Featuring our logo there would enhance the chance that it will be recognised by a factor thousand. The logo itself does not carry our name though, but since that is viewed each time you start up the app, I have no worries. Especially since HowAbout is a catchy name at itself, and fits very well to the concept of an organiser app. Sending a Powwow or an invitation to an event is quite similar to asking ‘how about a restaurant next time?’ Or a movie, going to a game, etc. That is basically how I came up with the name :’What would you ask when inviting one of your friends?’

HowAbout app in the first place is a handy, fast and intuitive way to send and keep track of invitations, complete with interactive calendar, overview, contact and group management etc. The people in your contact list are people you actually meet in person. Far away friends that you never meet will just take list space, although there is a way to share photo’s with absent friends instantly, if that is what you want to do : it’s called event based photo-sharing, and is linked to your event.

Where other apps mostly start asking ‘what do you want to do’, HowAbout starts with ‘who will you ask’. The philosophy is that you will likely already have a mood to see a person or a certain group of people when you have an intention to set something up. Since there are activities you do with one group of people, and other stuff you do with another group of people, you generally already have something in mind when you decide which people you will ask.


That is why we like to encourage users to start making groups, and use them. Since any contact can be in several groups, you can configure every group the way you like. It’s also very practical to make temporary groups which you delete after the event. The contacts are not deleted, just the group will be.

The interface is actually created upon this principle. Using groups will soon feel very intuitive and the obvious way to use HowAbout. Dragging contacts and groups to the HowAbout button will become part of your daily routine. And every time you will see a HowAbout button anywhere, you will immediately know what it means. Isn’t that what brand awareness is all about?

Look and Feel

Recently, the gameification of software has been a hot topic. Finding the balance between the goal of the software and it’s amusement value  was the holy grail of the next generation software. Having a background of card games and boardgames, I couldn’t help but design HowAbout with that element that has given me a homey board- and card game feeling for all those years. You may have noticed this from the mobile app design, but the Web-version emphasises this even more :


Howabout is really easy to use.  It’s mostly clicking and dragging, very clear and intuitive, and most of all very useful. For people like me who never got to really incorporating the use of a calendar in their lives, this is as close as it is going to get to achieving that.

But what about the business use of such a design?

We think your business is a serious matter, but so is the psychology of the people who work in it. Where Apple has done groundbreaking work in simplifying the use of software, and optimising it’s efficiency, we believe we are moving beyond the minimalist view that has carried them through the past 20 years. Offering the same efficiency and easy of use, we choose for a more playful design that speaks for itself. When Apple recently flattened out the look of their icons, I believe that with it, they removed the character of the design. We want to bring it back with a blast.

So the question remains, will businesses implement this kind of design in their corporate software, or do they prefer a static, ‘professional’, boring look. Feel free to leave your thoughts in a reply.