Since we started developing websites with Gordo & Barnes, august 2008, many of our concepts about web, web applications and websites have been changed. Better saying, it was more like new concepts coming in than changing the old ones.
In short, we don’t reinvent the wheel. This means that we don’t develop things from scratch when there is something more full-blown and (much) better developed out there on the web that can be integrated into the websites we develop. Exemplifying, why should we create a photo managing application like Flickr when Flickr already exists? No reason.
So, because we are redesigning our website we decided to have a dose of our own medicine, installing Smart Look in this website. Smart Look is a free service offered by Issuu which automatically replaces all the documents on your website with nice designed publications.
This is how it works: go to issuu.com and sign up for a free account. Then go to issu.com/smartlook and write down your domain where it’s written “Select your domain”. Click on “Get code” and you will have a piece of code ready to be copied and insert it right before the </body> tag, which in our case was in the “footer.php” file. The next step is uploading the document you want to be featured in your website. Can be a .pdf, .doc or a .ppt.
Usually these files would be a link for download but who said your users want to download files instead of just reading them? Imagine a 20MB .pdf file being downloaded when they just wanted to read it! I’m a suspect because i’ve abandoned a few websites just because of that.
Well, back to the Smart Look, after you placed the code snippet where i told, uploaded the file and put the link on the page, click on it. This click will trigger an upload of the same file to your Issuu account. After the conclusion of this 2nd upload, your document will be ready to be viewed in a charming way.
But if the user should want to download it? On the top left corner there is a link to download. That’s it. Even more, the user can share it via email, print it or go full screen. The publisher not only gets a happy user, but more visibility because of the sidebar showcasing all documents uploaded.
The only concern was if Google Analytics would stop working properly due to space conflict. So far, everything’s OK.
We took advantage of this tool to improve the frappé art Visual Identity Guidelines visualization, and to publish our Digital Art 2008 Portfolio. It includes all artwork we submitted to graphic design contests all over the world, including our awarded “City Sounds – The Original Score” and the published “4+1 Elements“.
In my opinion, the only inconvenient is the doubled upload, one to the server, other to Issuu, and the last one being triggered after a click on the file. A bit annoying. But Smart Look’s still on beta and there will be lots of improvement coming. I do hope so.