With a team of two, from start to launch, the updated Kippt took around four to five months, with many iterations, challenges, and final results along the way.
As with all redesigns, updates, and tweaks, there’s a lot of ideas, concepts, and overall work which goes unseen. As per my interview with Saarinen, this article will be broken down into the four main points which we went over: the redesign process, the design principles and problems the Kippt team faced, Karri’s insight into a new era of web app design, and where Kippt will be headed in the future.
The Redesign Process
What started out as a tool for Karri and Jori‘s personal use, turned into an online service used by many of us. After establishing themselves in the online community, the duo decided to switch things up a bit; change Kippt from what it was, into something more on the forefront of web design and user experiences.
When they started looking into where they wanted to head with the update, Karri told me what they noticed most was users were collecting content more so than links. Rather than being a book-marking service, it became a place to collect content to share or view at a later time. With this in mind they got started.
Karri started getting some sketches down on paper and mock-ups made in Photoshop while Jori got to working from the ground up with their development. Karri stated one of the main risks with starting from the ground up was the uncertainty of whether or not various aspects of their already established platform would work. With the pieces already in place, they risked losing a great deal of their work if everything didn’t align properly to what was already implemented. This in mind, Jori decided to work as much of the old code into the new design as possible without hindering the user interface which was being prototyped by Karri.
Design Principles and Problems
Going into the design, the Kippt team had in mind how they wanted Kippt 2.0 to work from a UX point of view. The goal was to make content king, as is always significant, and make the rest of the UI secondary. The goal was to allow users to focus on their content and make everything else disappear unless called on.
Another component the duo wanted to put into play was to distinguish by visual means what the content was. If the link saved was a YouTube video, they wanted it to look different from if it were just an article. By setting up these visual queues which are extremely apparent when using the updated Kippt, it’s wonderful being able to just go through your list of saved links and distinguish a GitHub repository from a photo gallery.
When speaking to Karri, he spoke to the fact Google can’t even do the latter of the two well. When you search through the almost never-ending list of links after a Google search, all you see is text. With the exception of YouTube videos, you don’t know whether you’re going to an article, a photo gallery, or what the content is at all except for the SEO description paragraph. It’s a rather obvious way to make searching more visual, but up until Kippt, I haven’t seen anything quite like it.
However, the problem with customizing how the individual tiles look based on the content is a daunting task when you take into account just how many types of content there is from all over the web. Since the content could by anything, the Kippt team has implemented and will continue to implement effective means of making it work for everything. Simple solutions such as a little icon for specific site is one way which Kippt solves this problem, along with syndicating images from various links onto the content blocks.
New Era in Web Design
As is expected, the face of web design is constantly changing. Karri pointed out in our interview, a major paradigm which seems to be ruling right now is breaking the norms of older, more formal interfaces in an effort to turn how users interact with content on its head. As per the Myspace redesign, Pinterest, and the new Facebook feed, one are the days of top-oriented navigation and fixed width columns.
Content is becoming more and more dynamic and in doing so designers and developers are looking for ways to change the interface of applications based around the user, be it due to screen-size or otherwise. Kippt 2.0 certainly capitalizes on this growing trend, bringing the navigation to the left-hand side and making the content blocks much more fluid, depending on screen-size and/or browser width.
What’s Next for Kippt?
In speaking to Karri, it was quite obvious him and Jori possess an incredible amount of ideas for future implementation into Kippt. I’m sure many will never see the light of day, but there are a few things which we may or may not be seeing in upcoming updates.
The first of these is statistics of sort which will show users and also publishers what content is being viewed and shared the most. Within this, Karri also mentioned the idea of being able to highlight specific text, in which you could potentially add to a “favorites” of sorts, which would allow users and publishers alike to see what part of the content users prefer. Although there’s no promise this will arrive, but if it does, it’s certainly going to add a new dimension to the discovery and sharing of content.
One question I was sure to hit on when speaking with Karri is the possibility of an iOS app made by the Kippt team, themselves. We both laughed a bit as I asked it, and Karri shared with me, instead of developing for iOS directly, what him and Jori have decided to do is build the greatest API they possibly can and leave the development for other platforms up to third-parties. With only two people on the Kippt team, it’s a smart way to outsource some of the work for specific platforms.
In fact, they have an entirely separate site dedicated to developers; something akin to the App.net developer site. To get an overview of the developer site, check it out here and also take a look at some of the apps available across the various platforms.
The final and most definite aspect coming to Kippt is a new search and discovery feature. Although we can certainly build up a collection of content ourselves and from friends, it’s nice to occasionally find out what is trending, or search for specific content. Karri assure me this is just around the corner with it being a specific section within the online application, allowing for easy discovery of new and popular content.
Hopefully you’ve gained a bit of insight of the behind-the-scenes of the Kippt update, through my interview with Karri. I’d like to thank Karri for taking the time to do the interview and Jori as well for helping build a tool I use every day.
If you have any thoughts or questions on the process, leave them in the comments below as this is a quite condensed version of the interview, meaning I may have some answers to your questions.