Creative Creating: Create the Tools You Wish Existed

April 27, 2015    Reading Time: < 1 Minute

Creativity

I use a lot of online tools for various tasks throughout the day. Most of the simplistic tools that I use (they focus on doing one thing), generally lack something that I wish they had.

Some of them do a great job, but look like they haven’t been touched since 1999. The interface is awkward/not intuitive, it’s crammed with advertisements, it’s built in Flash, and, most of the time, design, was an afterthought.

So instead of complaining, I’ve decided to re-build these tools.

I’ve already started by building three:

#1) Super Simple Stopwatch

Just like it sounds, it does one thing well: Keeps track of time. It’s extremely easy to use and responsive. I use it constantly throughout my day.

Super Simple Stopwatch

#2) Super Simple Mortgage Calculator

Again, this does one thing well: Calculates a mortgage so you can estimate your monthly payments.

Super Simple Mortgage Calculator

And now I’ve built a third: CASE+CONVERT

#3 CASE+CONVERT

This app converts text from lowercase, UPPERCASE, Sentence case, or Capitalize Case and vice-versa. You can type or paste your text, push a button, and it’ll transform your text. Try it out for yourself.

Case + Convert

You may ask: why create something like this if it already exists elsewhere?

Because it’s fun, challenging, and educational. Not only do I get to create and use the tool I want, but I learn valuable lessons and skills along the way.

The founders of 37Signals had a similar strategy when they decided to build a project management tool for their team which we now know as Basecamp.

I think it’s important for people to build and create things they wish existed or believe they can do better. Not only for the tools that come out of it, but for the entire experience of creating.

Are there complementary tools in your industry that you could create or improve upon?

Stay CREATIVE.

Written by Shawn Hooghkirk on April 27, 2015

Last updated on August 31, 2016. Shawn is the President of Graticle, Inc.

Tags: ,

Want a Quote on Your Project? Answer a Few Questions »

I have worked with Shawn at Graticle for three years, which should speak volumes in and of itself. I am a high school teacher and serve as the Coordinator for the AVID program. Each August-September we create new t-shirts for distribution to all 140 of our students, along with supportive members of the faculty, staff, and administration.

My team of AVID teachers brainstorms ideas for both the front and back of the shirt, and I present the best one or two concepts to Shawn for his expert feedback. We quickly settle on the best design idea and colors, and then Shawn and I bounce more detailed suggestions off each other for a few days. His suggestions always result in significant improvements to my rough concept. He presents me with graphic “rough drafts” at each stage of our discussion until we have a design I’m really happy with.

Shawn then works his magic, and the final design is the work of a consummate professional. We get tons of compliments on our shirts, starting with our t-shirt printer, and usually end up having to do a second print run for additional faculty and staff who want one of the shirts. This year, a middle school in Southern California saw the design and asked if they could use it.

Another positive aspect of working with Graticle is that Shawn is easy to reach by phone or email, and he is very responsive. I hear back from him either the same day or the next day.

Working with Shawn and Graticle has been a pleasure, He produces good work quickly and at a fair price. I recommend him to you without reservation.

Bill Wolfe

Teacher & AVID Coordinator

Taft Union High School

www.taft.k12.ca.us

Taft, California

Graticle Design has been a life saver for my company AGL Publishing. I initially developed the website, but as time has passed and technology has evolved, I realized I needed someone who could keep up with those tech challenges and changes. Being a book publisher, I am always looking for new ways to create unique advertising and marketing options, as well as meet the needs of my authors. Shawn has been there to help me at each stage of change. I come up with the ideas and he implements them. He is also my “calm in the midst of the storm” when my website is hacked, or my merchant account decides to create updates! To sum it up in a few words… A++ Customer service!

Laurie Long

Owner

AGL Publishing, Inc.

aglpub.com

Fresno, CA