Instructables.com iPhone app needs a lesson in interactivity

Aug 10, 2010
Tech

If you’ve always wondered how to build an LED light made out of a dead bonsai tree, then download Instructables.com. This free app boasts more than 100 inexpensive DIY projects: from the strange to the extremely creative. Instructables.com does exactly what its name implies. It’s a how-to site that shows you fully illustrated, detailed instructions […]

If you’ve always wondered how to build an LED light made out of a dead bonsai tree, then download Instructables.com. This free app boasts more than 100 inexpensive DIY projects: from the strange to the extremely creative. Instructables.com does exactly what its name implies. It’s a how-to site that shows you fully illustrated, detailed instructions on how to create fun and interesting projects on the cheap. The content is user-supplied, and is delivered via video or through step-by-step instructions. A link to their web site is on the lower left of the screen once you click on one of the projects.

The app is merely a replication of the web site, which forces me to ask, “Do you really need the app at all?” The full web site, which I found to be more attractive, offers many more features, such as contests and a community.

On load, the app puts you into the first of six categories available (Living, Outside, Play, Technology, Workshop and Featured). I would rather have been afforded the ability to choose what category to enter. You move from category to category on a tab bar at the bottom of the screen.  A minor point, but there are other apps, such as “wikiHow,” that do this really well.

Another annoyance is the bouncing scroll bar, which moves the textual links out of view. This hinders your ability to click on a link. This is a simple one-button fix in the “text view attributes page” in Interface builder. Other missing features are the lack of a Home button and the ability to use landscape mode.

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As a stand-alone web site, it’s a fun and engaging site. As a mobile app with hardly any interactivity, I can only give it 2 bars.

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