Interview with Jerome Iveson Designer and Founder of Solo
Interview with the designer of Solo, a beautiful project management app for the modern freelancer.
Tell us a bit about yourself as a designer, and your involvement with Thrive Solo.
Why build Solo?
Since I started using then designing for the web I’ve always been developing ideas for apps and one of these ideas was Solo. Creating a beautiful but functional tool for creatives excited me. I’ve alway felt a lot of apps are a bit cookie cutter, slightly ugly, bloated and difficult to use. I wanted to create something stylish and intuitive.
Obviously the design was inspired by minimalist, grid based info graphics mostly seen in print design, what made you take such an unconventional route for a task based web app?
I wanted an independent aesthetic with aspects of print design. Strong typography, hierarchy and intelligent use of space.These are just as important for designing on the web as they are for print. I also knew that these design values would resonate with our target audience. At the core I want our apps to communicate in a visually. The info graphics are there to present data in a simple digestible way. The last thing I want is something that has any remnants of a spreadsheet.
Share with us your design process when starting a project such as Solo, and some of the tool you use for gathering inspiration, wire framing, mocking up comps, developing code etc.
I tend to start but dumping everything I have in my head onto paper and connecting the dots. Sometimes this is as simple as categories with lists of features attached. Wireframes come next to add more depth. Sometimes this is just pen and paper, for more complicated wireframes I use InDesign. It may seem a strange choice but with the ability to add buttons and animations alongside stylesheets, symbols and master pages; it makes quite an effective wire framing tool.
For the flat visuals I use Illustrator. Again normally associated with print, but for grid-like minimal layouts I find it easier to keep synergy between elements working in one large canvas. It allows me greater space to breathe and experiment. Obviously any imagery is handed off to Photoshop. I keep meaning to give Fireworks a extended trial as the thought of using the same tool for wire framing and designing appeals.
For CSS/HTML I use Espresso by MacRabbit, it’s a great tool. Combined with another monitor the live previews really help. It may not be perfect for everyone as its Mac and webkit based. For me it works well as our users are 99% Safari, Chrome and Firefox.
Describe the workflow between design and development throughout the project.
Its pretty fluid. We start building the core backend code from the wireframes and then build a HTML mockup, its then a case of connecting the two and refining.
What's the technology behind Solo?
How big is the team and is everyone working full time on Solo?
There are 2.5 of us at the moment - our Dev Mario, myself and Simon who works part time on the marketing strategy side of things.
Is there something you wish you could have done differently with the design or the product in general?
Looking back I tried to do to much initially. I wanted and still want Solo to be the best all-in-one tool for creative freelancers however I should have focussed on a few core things then added additional functionality later. When we launched certain parts of the app weren’t good enough in my eyes. Saying that I think we’re definitely getting there now, the feedback we get from users is excellent. I think with our next version people are going to be blown away.
What is in store for the future of Solo, and you as a designer?
We are going to revamp Solo to make it work across desktop and mobile. The new interface will be slicker and more intuitive. Oh, I’ll be adding a lot more info graphics! This will all coincide with the launch of Studio hopefully in around six months time. We’ve got couple of other secret projects planned for the second half of the year so things are going to be very interesting.
For me as a designer I’ll be concentrating solely on Thrive as I seriously doubt I’ll have time for any other projects. I don’t mind at all I find whole process exhilarating and can’t wait to get stuck in.
Do you have any tips you could share with anyone thinking of designing and launching their next big idea?
Concentrate and focus. Keep your idea lean and move fast (I’ve learnt this from experience). Once you’ve built it make sure you remember to market it. Listen to feedback and answer queries as quick as possible – users do really appreciate it.
And finally, what differentiates Solo from it's competitors?
Beautiful design and intuitive functionality.
Are you a freelancer that is looking for a better way to keep track of your clients, deadlines and day-to-day things that really matter? Check out Solo.