City of Montreal logo

The logo of City of Montreal

City of Montreal logo

I remember my first encounter with this logo. It was in the early days of my arrival to Montreal, I was riding the metro and guy next to me had a lapel pin with the rosette without the text. I was wondering about the meaning of it, until later I discovered that it’s actually the logo of the city I lived in.

The more I learned about this logo, the more fascinating I found it to be.

It was designed by the graphic design firm Georges Huel et Associés Inc. and adopted in 1981. The logo is inspired by the city’s coat of arms and its flag, where each petal is formed by the letter V and M, which stands for Ville de Montréal.

Each petal of the rosette is a heart and the four petals allude to the origin of the city, founded by the four ethnic groups, the French, the English, the Scottish and the Irish.

Flag of the City of Montreal

I love this logo, because it’s a rare example of genius visual communication, a unique example of smart simplicity; every element has a meaning, without being noisy.

The same George Huel, is also the author of another logo that marked the history of this city, the logo of the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.

Find more information about this logo here.
See more graphic design works by George Huel here.

Jennifer Pahlka challenging you to Code for America

You might have already seen her talking at TED about Code for America (CfA), a movement that brings together developers with the Government on a common ground of creating useful apps that can make people’s life better.

Here, Jennifer Pahlka is talking about local government, and she’s asking developers to come forward and not to be shy to call their city hall and see how they could contribute to their community.

Code for Canada, for when?

I would love to see such a movement here in Canada too. We do have Open Data movements, and there are quite a few really nice examples of projects that were created using data offered by the government. It was just a couple of weeks ago that Quebec’s Open Data portal was launched (the site is in French), and there are similar projects in other provinces too. What I’m hoping for, is a Canadian Open Data movement that would cover all levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal, where knowledge and resources are shared, instead of being fragmented as they are right now.


Mobile apps, do you really need them?

Apple loves to brag about how many mobile apps are in their App Store, a number that the Android Market is trying to beat. If anyone is taking a closer look at these apps, most of them are just fancy RSS feeds, or a handful of games that are redesigned over and over again with different skins and slightly modified rules.

It’s very rare to see an app that takes full advantage of the possibilities the platform offers, most of them will settle for a mobile website, that the user has to download and install. The most striking examples I can find, since I work in the municipal field, are municipal apps. Every week, I get press releases about this and that city releasing mobile apps. A common feature I noticed is that they release an iPhone, an Android and a BlackBerry version so that they get “everyone covered”. These apps are mostly about feeding the latest news and press releases of the city.

The companies that are developing these apps are happy to promote this way of distributing news, they get payed three times, every time they sign up a new client. It’s really lucrative, because if the client needs to make a change to the app in order to accommodate new devices, they can charge extra. I’m sure there are other fields too, apart from municipalities, where institutions and companies jump on the app bandwagon.

As BlackBerry starts to sink, I wonder how long are institutions and companies willing to invest in BlackBerry app development. With Android, I’m not worried, there are plenty of people out there, that can’t afford Apple products, and there are plenty that can. Still, having to develop separate apps for all these platforms, is just not sustainable.

I have nothing against apps, they have their role and strengths. Just as no online photo editor can replace the power, speed and versatility of Photoshop (at least not in the immediate future), so goes for certain mobile applications, no responsive design or HTML5 magic can beat them.

Before you go out and spend tax money, or your shareholders money to order a mobile app, make sure that the features you need can only be obtained with an app and you’re not betting on an artificially created tech bubble that will burst sooner, rather than later.

Mobile web is getting stronger and stronger and by investing in a mobile/responsive website, you put your money in a product that will be easy to scale, easy to change, in order to keep up with the exponentially increasing number of devices used to access the Internet.