I finished off an app for the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace this week, it’s called Timecard. You can find a link to it here, and, aside from some slight icon colouring issues, I’m pretty happy with it! Anyway, I just figured I should write a few notes about how I put it together and some of the design decisions I made, and I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below if you’ve got any thoughts.

The competition, or, what not to do



Now don’t get me wrong, both of these apps seem incredibly feature-rich, and, from the testing I’ve done, work fairly well. It’s just much harder to visually draw information out of them or to put information in.

Timecard

This is my app, Timecard:



Better ways of displaying and manipulating information

The thing with all of the timecard apps we just looked at is that they stick with an information manipulation system that probably works perfectly with the underlying data structures, but require you to enter the data after you finish your shift. They still require you to undertake the most tedious step – remembering when you started.

What I’m arguing for with Timecard is an application paradigm that focusses on two things:

  1. Displaying information in a way that answers users’ key questions (a la Magic Ink): When did I start work again this morning? How long did I spend on this project?
  2. Manipulating information in a way that complies with the user’s thought patterns: I’m about to start work on a new project, better punch in. I’m about to go to lunch, better put it into my Timecard.

The brilliant thing about digital applications is that they can simplify this whole loop - they fill in the gaps quickly and intuitively. The difference between Timecard and its competitors is that Timecard uses context to remove an input factor - instead of entering the time manually, you punch in at the appropriate time, and that Timecard uses screen real estate and colour to indicate project time or break time instead of endlessly scrolling listboxes and walls of text.

You can find Timecard here:

Timecard on the Windows Phone Marketplace.