Here's a little levity on the eve of the iPad launch chaos tomorrow. We're going through release after release today of all of these iPad apps, and after browsing page after page after page in the App Store, it's sometimes easy to forget just how much work went into each one of these things. The Omni Group has a nice writeup on their blog about how they designed the OmniGraphSketcher app, and while the iPad will be the center of attention tomorrow for its blend of technology and innovation, the Omni app was actually designed in a very low-tech way: with paper.
They designed a same-size iPad mockup and cut out a bunch of paper menus and interfaces, and then did their testing with them that way, going with instinct on what goes where and how it all worked out. The iPad is an innovative device, to be sure, but the reason it's so innovative is because you can model it easily with much older technology like paper. Developers don't cut out a paper mouse and keyboard to design their desktop apps, but with the iPad, the interface has to be re-designed completely, and so cutting out colored paper is just as effective as testing out code. Very interesting, and something to keep in mind as we all touch and poke and prod our new devices tomorrow.