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Summary:

For some teams, the iterative design process has gotten out of control. Instead of focusing on how to make a product or service better, the process has turned into an approval monster. ZURB hopes to change that with Notable, a web-based app that allows teams to […]

For some teams, the iterative design process has gotten out of control. Instead of focusing on how to make a product or service better, the process has turned into an approval monster. ZURB hopes to change that with Notable, a web-based app that allows teams to give direct feedback to each other. “Notable was created to solve the feedback problem in companies,” says Dmitry Dragilev, ZURB’s marketing lead. Dragilev says the company created this application to fight the philosophy of getting approval and a move toward helping teams make something better.

The tool allows everyone to provide feedback and stay in the loop with a design’s progress, as well as archiving the design’s history. You can control who can see and leave feedback on each captured design. For example, a project manager could share one page with the copywriter, another with the whole team and yet another with the developers. The feedback occurs multiple ways, instead of one-way.

For example, let’s say I open a Notable account for the meryl.net web site. I work with a designer and a blog app expert; we’re all web workers living in different states. I capture different pages on my web site to highlight the current problems and identify ways to improve them, as the screenshot below shows.

While I could use my screenshot application to get a snaphot of the page to make comments on, Notable works faster. With a screenshot app, I’d capture the web page. Then, I would use the application’s drawing tools to add call outs. Notable takes care of everything for you. All I have to do is click and enter notes.  This video shows the process of capturing and annotating a site.

Notable offers a Firefox plugin for capturing any web page, which is especially helpful for those pages stuck behind logins. I grabbed Facebook pages and other password-protected pages with the plugin. You can also capture pages from a URL from within Notable, use a special URL formula to capture a web page (for example, www.notableapp.com/www.webworkerdaily.com would capture the home page of this site), download the iPhone app, or upload an image.

I can send my notes for one page to the designer and notes from another page to the blog expert. Or I can send it to both. Notable gives you control on what feedback and notes you share with others, and you can remove someone from the discussion after the fact. The designer and blog expert can capture their own pages to add notes or leave comments on my notes.

In this case, I have a workspace called “meryl.net” for the meryl.net redesign project. I can organize the pages into three sets: one for the business section of the site, one for games and one for the pages about deafness, as the next image shows.

Notable sends email notifications whenever someone adds notes and shares them. You can control who receives the notification to be able view the specific page and leave feedback. Permissions are also available on a per-set basis.

You can also see different views of each page. You not only view the design, but also you can see and post annotations on the code (the underlying HTML code of the page), the copy (just the page’s copy, without any distracting visual elements) and search engine optimization (which lets you see the page’s structure for SEO purposes).

Currently, Notable works with Firefox and Safari. However, I could leave comments and view notes in Google Chrome — just not capture pages. One of the biggest benefits is that it cuts down on emails and confusion. The only emails you receive are notifications of new notes or updates, rather than a bunch of emails from different people on a project and trying to keep track of it all. Best of all, Notable is fun to use. While it works great for teams not working under one roof, but it’s suitable for those that do because the work is centralized and visible in one place.

Check out the use of Notable on the CNN and MSN home pages. A free plan is available that handles up to three users, 3 GB storage, one private workspace and the iPhone app. However, the free plan doesn’t come with enhanced security or private URLs. Other plans range from $24 per month up to $119 per month, based on number of users, storage size and other features. You can try any paid plan for 30 days with no obligation.

Have you tried Notable? What do you think of it?

  1. Thanks for the post and for advising very helpful tips on improving web designs, it really helps if done properly.

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  2. The NotableApp link goes to http://www.notable.com/www.webworkerdaily.com.

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    1. Ah, thanks Glen. I must have fixed the anchor text but not the link. Now fixed.

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      1. Thank you, Glen.

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  3. “the company created this application to fight the philosophy of getting approval and a move toward helping teams make something better.”

    What a completely meaningless statement! Are these people suggesting that any designer can pump work out into the world without having clients or colleagues approve it?

    I work as a designer in a company where design matters enormously, but that doesn’t make getting approval of projects “a philosophy”, as if it is something evil to be fought.

    Getting approval is just one of the steps that I need to manage, just like getting a decent brief or or producing decent creative concepts.

    What’s next – an app to fight the philosophy of getting a decent brief?

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  4. Mel-
    Approval in itself isn’t bad. But placing design decisions in the hands of a client or the suits to ‘approve’ devalues the business value it plays in an organization.

    It’s our belief that opening up the design process to everyone on a team empowers designers to lead and make solid business decisions on behalf of the business. Design is a solid business tool.

    That and quotes aren’t always written with the full context. :)

    Bryan

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