Post Tool — producing great software since 1993.

Post Tool is an internationally acclaimed design and technology firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Our process is practical: We help our clients arrive at a formal expression of their requirements. We then use the requirements to transform the vision into reality. We strive to accommodate the unexpected. We do it on time and on budget.

Our philosophy is simple: We recognize that our clients are the experts. We apply our 25 years of experience with evolving technologies to translate vision into elegantly designed and sustainable software solutions.

Post Tool has garnered numerous awards and recognition for its work in interaction design, including exhibitions at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt and SF MOMA. Post Tool is distinguished by its ability to link design with technology.

Capabilities

  • Visual Design
  • Technical Documentation
  • Software Development
  • Content Management
  • Legacy Integration

Clients

  • Nuance Communications
  • Apple Computers
  • Frog Design
  • Sparkwise
  • The Body Shop
  • Chronicle Books
  • California College of the Arts
  • SF MOMA
  • Getty Center

How we do it.

Post Tool’s software development process ensures success.

We partner with technology companies, teams and individuals around the world to create resource plans that are appropriate to your project. Project management is facilitated through sophisticated web and mobile based software. We also partner with select designers and design agencies to create beautiful and usable interfaces.

Our product is transparent. All documents and code are housed in versioned repositories that we share freely with our clients. Sometimes our clients are researchers and developers who participate actively in the project.

Post Tool classifies all software development projects into phases. A typical project progresses through each of the following phases sequentially. Often we loop through the phases continuously as needs and requirements grow in complexity. Our goal is to keep the software usable and logically consistent as it adapts to use and matures.

Discover Plan Document Prototype Test Implement Evaluate Maintain

Phase 0 / Discover

One goal of discovery is to establish a succinct vocabulary that all participants can use to communicate. With our scientific clients, the terminology might be highly specific. But more frequently, there are discrepancies in language and terminology that must be identified. In either case, we learn your language, then refine, standardize, and document it. We then use this language to establish all the requirements and desires of key stakeholders.

Sometimes software is developed to support an existing process and sometimes is offers something completely new. When software will support existing processes, an initial research project is required. We observe, interview and document participants as they operate ‘in the field’. Then we interject software where we can improve the experience. If the product represents something completely new, we attempt to relate it to existing processes and understand what we intend to improve.

Phase 1 / Plan

We quantify behavior in terms of activities by persona (or role) and document workflows for significant activities. This mapping allows us to estimate resource requirements in detail.

Phase 2 / Document

The documentation represents an overview of the application as well as wireframes and process flows for identified personas. From the discovery and planning documents, we can implement initial wireframes. These wireframes can be tested with users to validate research findings. They can also be used to indicate high level components or visual rhetoric that will be used throughout. Once satisfied with the initial wireframe directions, we produce complete documentation. Post Tool believes that research, documentation, design and development are a unified process, so all team members participate in developing the documentation. This approach keeps the entire team engaged in what we consider the most difficult part of the process.

Phase 3 / Prototype

Sometimes we have the luxury of prototyping an application before we build out the entire specification. This requires the team and stakeholders to identify the highest ranked features for development in the most efficient manner possible. This work allows us to test assumptions directly with users in front of a device.

Phase 4 / Test

We facilitate user testing in many forms: online, in person, using wireframes, HTML or with a finished application. We establish metrics that are tracked and analyzed. This allows us to develop a roadmap for revision of existing features or the development of new ones.

Phase 5 / Implement: Visual Design

Post Tool has received dozens of awards for its user interface innovation throughout the ‘90s. Since then we have partnered with some of the best design firms in the world to produce inventive and sophisticated user interfaces.

Phase 6 / Implement: Platform Selection

There is a wide assortment of platforms, libraries, frameworks, licenses, programming languages, etc. Java, Ruby, Django, Apache ... “The Cloud” If you are familiar with the jargon, we will openly discuss details in a technical way. If you are not, we will walk through the pros and cons of all approaches especially in terms of cost of maintenance.

Phase 7 / Implement: Content Management

Your data ecosystem is complex. Often legacy systems must be closely migled with new functionality. We develop content strategies and processes that help you identify, prioritize, produce and control the flow of content to meet the needs of all persona. We customize and configure sophisticated content management systems capable of managing ‘big data’ scale content and media.

Phase 8 / Implement: Application Development

As more daily work moves online, the need for increasingly complex web applications – either as a complement to existing products or software as service – becomes essential. Our UX, design and development teams build highly functional and custom applications to fit your needs. We believe they should also be engaging. Users want intuitive interfaces that allow them to drag, drop, watch and play. We’ve pioneered the design and technology behind many of these paradigms.

Phase 9 / Evaluate

Here we are. The application is in beta. Does it meet our expectations? Where do we go from here? These questions with key stakeholders and a round of formal user testing will inform our next steps.

Phase 10 / Maintenance

A primary project goal is to enable our clients to self-sustain the success of an application. After completing a project, we collaborate with you to determine how many team members you need to maintain digital assets, help train your people to use the necessary systems and work with you to develop a plan for future maintenance.

Work Samples

The Body Shop International / Listen

The Body Shop International hired Post Tool to create a learning and development experience for their employees which reinforced themes of cultural diversity and listening. Every day our senses must derive meaning from chaos– this concept is explored in the CDROM entitled ‘Listen’. A single navigation tool, a sinewave, acts as a tuner allowing the user to discover a range of states from chaos to meditation. Audio recordings in twenty-one spoken languages convey individual meaning and understanding.

Sparkwise

Tomorrow Partners’ years of strategic partnerships with foundations and their grantees revealed impact measurement and reporting was a challenge, particularly when measurable indicators are as varied as number of infections, crime rates, climate change, new legislation, even long-term cultural shifts. So in 2011, Tomorrow Partners set out to fix the problem. Sparkwise aggregates, visualizes and contextualizes online analytics, primary data from spreadsheets, open datasets, and story content such as video, audio, PDFs and slide shows. Users can control how they want to share their impact with their communities, funders, and internal stakeholders by embedding individual widgets or publishing entire boards, publicly or password protected. Post Tool served as the development studio and today, David Karam acts as CTO for the corporation. Visit http://sparkwi.se.

Postera

Postera is an online tool and web hosting service. It allows artists, photographers, illustrators, designers, architects and visual people of all types to build and maintain beautiful websites. Take a look at sites built with Postera: Kamau Patton, Tabitha Soren, Thorina Rose, Justin Gabbard, Sharif Nakhleh, Samantha Lai, Nathtan Pundt, Tamara Chang, Kinematics Lab, Visual Boss, Lawrence Labianca, Maija Fiebig, Rachel Burgess, Leon Borensztein, ... and so many more.

X Matters

xMatters makes relevance engines that connect people with what they need to know, at the exact moment they need to know it – so they can act quickly. It’s a simple concept that packs huge benefits. It can save the sanity of an IT team – or save the lives of people affected by disaster. It can breathe new life into a product, or capture a customer’s attention at just the right instant. Post Tool was hired to evaluate and redesign Alarm Point’s exisiting software, as well as analyze existing code base, develop an integration plan and facilitate initial integration.

Variations / SECA Recipient for Design

As recipients of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Experimental Design Award in Design we took the opportunity to create something that reflected what we had learned in the commercial arena and merged it with personal interests. Variations was comprised of a musical organ connected to a computer. When played, the organ keyboard generated interesting sounds and musical phrases. The ‘mode’ keys on the organ were used to control and alter the sounds and the imagery. Variations was a real time interactive audio visual keyboard. Variations creates a connection for users between sound and image. The goal was to allow a user of any degree of musical literacy to have a unique and fulfilling experience in an environment of audio and visual expression.

Applications from the last three decades that were ahead of their time.

Designster

The vision of Designster was to create an online environment for collaborative exchange, and discussion. The concept developed from a desire to be able to post work for practical review purposes as well as artistic dialog. Designster was a social network web site intended to promote interaction between designers. Based on the “Circle of Friends” technique for networking individuals it demonstrates the “Small World Phenomenon” popularized by Stanley Milgram and his “Six Degrees of Separation” experiment. Features include, visual mapping, a filtered search function, image posting, message and bulletin boards and a system for visualizing links.

Chronicle Books

Before any of this kind of stuff was commonplace, Post Tool produced the ambitiously animated Chronicle Books E-commerce web site. The site was integrated with Chronicle’s inventory and fullfillment systems. It was based on the original Current CMS.

Current CMS

Current CMS is a multi-user Content Management System with workflow, versioning and publishing capabilities built on Java Enterprise technology. It provides a highly configurable framework for developing, deploying and maintaining content managed web applications. Current CMS includes many features including: Non-technical maintenance of web site content User management; Publication workflow and approval; Category and sitemap management; Rich media resource management.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame / Rock and Roll and the Movies Kiosk

Rock and Roll and the Movies was a kiosk created for the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. The Kiosk was glamorized to depict a 1950’s sensibility when Rock and Roll music was first co-opted by Hollywood.The kiosk employed a graphical interface that envisioned itself as a 1950’s Jukebox. Musical selections brought up film clips of Rock and Roll hits preformed on film. Colossal Pictures paired Post Tool design with an archivist to develop and structure the content.

Post Tv

Post Tv was originally intended as an unconventional promotional piece for Post Tool. The web site was one of the first to be acquired to the permanent collection of SF MOMA.

To Preserve Quandic

From Wikipedia — To Preserve Quandic was probably the largest graphical adventure game created for the TRS-80 Color Computer at the time of its release. Taking two full disks, it was larger than both Sands of Egypt and Dallas Quest, which preceded it. The game was quite extensive in locations, and the basic premise was to preserve the pacifistic Quandic race, who had advanced technology like time machines. The game made extensive use of the rarer artifact colors.

There is much more.

Some of our most exciting work is not available to the general public. Contact us if you want to know more.


PUBlICATIONS

  • 2005 Blobjects, San Jose Museum of Art
  • 2003 Graphic Design for the 21st Century, Phaidon
  • 2002 Adobe Masters Class: Web Site Redesign 2001
  • 2000 MovingType, Designing for Time and Space
  • 2000 Design Culture Now
  • 2000 Sonic Graphics, Seeing Sound
  • 1999 Radical Graphics, Chronicle Books
  • 1999 Type in Motion, Rizzoli
  • 1998 Typographics Three, Hearst Books Intl.
  • 1998 Cool Sites, Hearst Books Intl.
  • 1998 Eye Magazine ‘Serious Doodling’
  • 1998 IMG SRC 100
  • 1996 Graphic Design in America, Rockport Publishers
  • 1996 Communication Arts ‘Post Tool design’
  • 1996 Popeye Magazine-Japan ‘PostTool’
  • 1996 C - NetTelevision
  • 1996 MSNBC Television, The Site
  • 1996 Critique Magazine
  • 1996 Creative Review ‘Brainshift’
  • 1995 ID Magazine ‘An Interpretation ...’
  • 1995 ID Magazine ‘Electronic Youth’
  • 1995 Graphis Magazine ‘Multimedia by the Bay’
  • 1995The AIGA Journal ‘Absolute Individuals’
  • 1995 Upper & lowercase Magazine ‘PostTool design’
  • 1994 On-line Design Magazine ‘Digitizing ...’

NOTABlE lECTURES

  • 2007 San Jose State University
  • 2004 University of San Francisco Design Program
  • 2003 Stanford University’s MFA Program in Design
  • 2002 Fabrica, Automatic Design
  • 2000 The Netherlands Design Institute, ‘D.DADA’
  • 2000 University of Hawaii ‘Behavior is Form’
  • 2000 Beursschouwburg, Brussels
  • 2000 Parsons ‘Excavating the Archive’
  • 2000 SFMOMA, ‘Digital Masters’
  • 1999 Sci Arc ‘Differentiated Topographies’
  • 1999 Art Center Pasadena ‘Audio Interface’
  • 1997 AIGA Seattle Minds On Conference
  • 1997 AIGA National Convention
  • 1997 The Creative Show, London
  • 1997 SVA How We learn What We learn
  • 1996 Minneapolis AIGA Design Camp
  • 1995 AIGA National Convention ‘Post Tv’
  • 1995 1994 vISCOM ‘Interactive Design’