Napkin: A Surprisingly Powerful Communication Tool

napkin-logoGoing through my news reader early this morning I came across this one sentence post by John Gruber at Daring Fireball. It referenced a Mac app called “Napkin” and Gruber said that it’s a “great update” so I thought I’d check it out.

Wow. How did I not know about this app? Napkin allows you to essentially create a mashup of media that you can annotate and quickly share.

Huh?” you may ask. What do you mean by “annotate and quickly share” Borsch?

napkin-pip

An example of a screenshot annotated in Napkin and immediately exported to my desktop and imported in to this post. Time to create was about 1 minute.

My workflow consists of communicating with people every single day that are not in my office and some I’ve never even met personally. I have to communicate concepts to people at our clients, on my team, to subcontractors, and to friends and family. If I write up a bunch of text about a concept, often people just don’t get it. Creating a quick screencast is very time consuming so I only do that when my communication to one or more people absolutely requires it.

For my high value concept communications, let me tell you about the steps I went through before, and then after, I used Napkin.

My “pre-Napkin” workflow was this:

  1. Take a screenshot
  2. Open the screenshot in Photoshop
  3. Open Keynote (or one could drag-n-drop the screenshot in to Keynote, but I find it gave me less control and didn’t save any steps)
  4. Select various vector objects like an arrow to point at stuff on the screenshot and copy-n-paste it in to the image. Rinse and repeat for various callouts
  5. Save the image and use in email, on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

My “post-Napkin” workflow looks like this:

  1. Launch Napkin
  2. Use its tools to do everything above.

Yep. It saves three steps and jumping around to other programs. Now I can communicate faster and with richer content. While the program is $49.95, a rough ‘back of the napkin’ estimate on time saved for the 6-12 “concept communications” I perform daily is 30-60 minutes per day.

ronald-mcdonaldIf you’re not busy or don’t have money, don’t buy Napkin. But if your time is only worth a McDonalds-sized hourly wage of $10/hour—and you communicate as frequently as I do—your return on investment will be 1-2 weeks. Even if you only use Napkin 1-2 times per week, within a few months it will have paid for itself and, most importantly, will have made your entire process of communicating richer, higher value, and more fun too.

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Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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