Dozens & Trails v2.0

Author: Andy Hartwell



A collaboration between the Library of Birmingham and Substrakt, Dozens & Trails aims to showcase some of the visual treasures of the new Library. Supported by Creative England and the Library Development Trust, we have been able to continue work, developing on the applications’ foundations of  V1. 


The app is comprised of collections of content which is split into two main types; dozens, and trails. Dozens and trails are both collections of 12 objects with an overarching theme, but trails have the addition of an interactive map with each object plotted on it. With this second version we’ve been able to add some of the ideas we couldn’t implement for the first. Users can now save items to a ‘vault’ to keep collections and objects they like in one place.


In addition to favouriting objects, users can now also order high quality physical prints of some assets right from within the app. Print sizes include postcards (6″x4″) up to large posters (30″x20″) and are printed on photographic-quality paper. Images that are available to print are clearly marked as you explore the app.



Having already released one major version of the app the previous year, we were very fortunate to be building on a strong foundation and responding to real user feedback. This led us to tweak most of the page views to make them easier to understand and make sure key content wasn’t hidden away behind gestures.

The aesthetic principles are the same as V1.0; keep the interface as subtle as possible so the content is the focus, akin to the plain walls of a gallery. With this approach naturally the interface became simpler, with us relying on contrast to communicate interactive interface elements and content, rather than heavy gradients and shadows. Fortunately when Apple introduced iOS7, our app was already adhering to the same principles and updated aesthetic, so we didn’t have to make many changes to make it feel at home on iOS devices new, and old. Early on in the design process we moved away from heavier font weights for a more elegant contemporary feel.

Development & CMS

Like the prior version, this has been developed using Titanium which allows us to develop one core version of the app and deploy to multiple platforms (iPad, iPhone & Android). The content is all managed through Nymbol, a content management system for physical objects developed by our own Mark Steadman.

The team at the Library of Birmingham will be busy adding new collections and trails over time.

Beyond the mobile

In addition to the mobile app we created interfaces for some of the large display screens within the new building. The app interacts with several screens in the building, allowing users to post some of their favourite images to the large screen and view in all their glory. We also developed a Kinect application so that visitors to the LoB can interact with the images using hand gestures alone.

Why not download the free app and explore some of the delightful images…

Check it out & download