UPDATE! Unfortunately, since writing this post, Springpad has bitten the dust. A sad demise for a great app.
Go straight to read about Trello instead or read about other apps for artists.
The first of a two-part post on two cross-platform apps to help improve your artistic and business workflow
Artists, we like things visual, right? It's not surprising then that, despite being a a compulsive Piscean list maker, when it comes to do To Do apps, I always feel they lack a visual component.
Fortunately, things are really changing for the better on this front, and I now have two very visual organisational apps vying for my supreme love: Springpad and Trello.
I'll be looking at both these apps in terms of how they can help us organise our creative projects, starting this week with Springpad and following up next week with Trello.
Visual Project Management
These apps are much more than to do lists – with checklists being just one of the available components – and really fall into the category of project managers.
This makes them a perfect visualisation tool for creatives looking to nail down all the particulars of a painting series, a writing or teaching project or a gallery show, right from the initial ideas stage through to marketing and beyond.
Both apps are FREE and available on iPhone and Android platforms. Both also have a web app - meaning you can access and update your projects from any web browser on any device. Both allow you to make your information public or to keep it private but Springpad also offers social sharing via Facebook and Twitter.
Springpad and Trello User Interfaces
Despite the fact that both apps offer the all-important aspect of being able to add images to your projects, when it comes to the underlying structure there are some important differences between the two.
Springpad is based around an unlimited number of notebooks (customisable in terms of colour and texture) which can be used to house different projects, to collect information by themes, or a combination of the two.
You can choose to view your notebooks in a list or gallery view. While the list view is useful if you want to re-organise the order in which your notebooks appear, once you have collected images inside a notebook, if you choose the gallery view, a selection of images will appear on the front of the notebook, making it visually appealing right from the get-go as well as reminding you what's inside.
As well as images and checklists, the notebooks can also contain a host of different components including notes, single tasks with or without a due date reminder, audio files and web links. You can also add contacts, events and locations but I prefer to add these to my address book, calendar or maps apps.
Each item within a notebook can be tagged – meaning you can filter a theme through various notebooks – as well as commented on. (Comments appear at the bottom of the item's window.)
The Creative Wonder of Springpad Notebooks
So should I choose Springpad?
I've been using Springpad for a good while now, and while I never seem to find just the right workflow to employ it to its optimum, I can never bring myself to delete it from my phone either.
Both its strength and its weakness is its attempt to be all things to all (wo)men.
I don't need the option of adding a recipe when I'm organising my art projects and permanently being offered it gets in the way of my need for focus. For my partner, on however, it might be just the thing as he includes recipes as part of his website on Spain.
On the other hand, Springpad's ability to preview a URL link right from within the app and then visit it by clicking on it, is something I really miss in Trello.
This isn't confined to webpages either as Springpad also gives the option to search specifically for books, music and film, embed a preview link to them and even rate them. It also has a web clipper for posting pages you like directly from your browser into Springpad.
All this makes it a really useful research tool for anyone involved in creative projects.
Could you improve the organisation of your creative work or business by using a (different) project manager?
Have you tried Springpad? What do you think?
Read: The second post in the series to find out why Trello has been getting all my attention lately.