Jeff is a designer and developer who has become pretty well known in the design community recently. With his incredible talent for mobile design and the ability to finish off his own products with his developing skills, it’s no wonder why. Jeff was considerate enough to give up his precious time for an interview – although to my surprise he was still in bed when I began the interview at 12:30 in the afternoon (thank God it wasn’t a video interview).
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and how you got into design.
So, I was home-schooled and started learning to develop around the age of 13 and shortly after that I realized I needed design work and it was something I couldn’t afford to pay for, so I had to learn it myself. Fast forward several years and I started college. But I hated it. I got offered a job working for USFI Marketing Communications as a designer/developer and quit college. I worked there for 3 years, working on projects from beginning to end – design, development and production. After that I left to take on a position at Appmakr where I was mostly designing some CSS/HTML. I did that for a year and moved onto a position at Swipely just designing. 3 months later after deciding it wasn’t for me I wanted to give me dream, freelancing ,a try. That was about 5 months ago and so here I am, a freelance designer.
That’s pretty awesome stuff there. So what parts of design do you specialise in and why?
Mobile design is my domain. I love the restrictions that mobile brings – the interfaces have to be super intuitive, just taps and gestures. Not to mention with retina displays it’s always fun to include the tiny details – stuff the average person wouldn’t ever notice, but if you take the time to look it will blow your mind. I thinks it’s really important to spend plenty of time during the designing stage to polish it off and add those tiny details. Because those detail make the app; it shows the app is focusing on quality, rather than to make money or fame – it’s a passion that people can really see. You notice it in apps like Path, Tweetbot, Twitterific and Heist, just to name a few.
I couldn’t agree more. It’s great to find those apps that the designers have just gone the extra mile for. So you’re a freelancer, but you’ve also done a few projects of your own haven’t you?
Hellz yeah. So I’ve got Stratus. I love Cloudapp and I always thought it needed a good solution for mobile – there were are few out there, but none of them were what I was looking for, and they were all a bit bulky, ugly and slow. I wanted something faster and pretty and free for both iPad and iPhone. Nothing existed like that so I thought I’d create one. 50k downloads later I’m very happy with it.
That’s certainly a great and useful app. But your next app, the settings apps, got some real traction, with coverage on sites like CNET, Time, LifeHacker and many more. Tell us about that and where the idea came from.
While working with a client and trying to find a way to change notification settings in preferences I thought, instead of telling them where to go and what to tap, why not take them directly to the location. So I did a ton of research to figure out if it was possible, and finally found the URL scheme which was super hidden. I figured it would be great to have a webclip that you could add to the home screen and it would save everyone time. It started with just a few icons, but then I found another solution, with the mobileconfig file, which was a much better and simple way of using these settings apps. After it got some press, it pressured me to expand upon it and get more icons and preferences out there. So I created a way to dynamically create these mobileconfig files, including signing them. So far press coverage has created around 3 million hits to my site these past couple of weeks – it’s been nuts.
That’s some crazy numbers. So where do you get your inspiration from?
Oh gosh, everywhere. I try to find what’s missing in my life, then make it. Since I am no different that the usual person, I figured many other people will need it too. To be honest the initial development for my work it usually very selfish; I make things for myself, then release them for everyone else.
A very common trait, and often where the best stuff comes from. So what does your set up look like and what software do you use?
I have a 15″ MBP with a 27″ Thunderbolt display attached. I have 8GB ram, hi-res anti gloss screen with a 256GB SSD and the Quad Core i7. It’s an amazing machine. Oh and I use the Razor Mamber as my trust mouse. In terms of software I use Photoshop mostly, opening Illustrator from time to time to perfect paths and such, then re-import them into Photoshop. Since 99% of all my work is vector-based I have been opening Illustrator more and more lately.
Awesome stuff, I have the same MBP and it really flies with that SSD. So what are your hobbies outside the world of design/development?
Oh boy, I love beer, Starcraft 2 and my girlfriend. Not in that order. But to be honest I spend most of my time working.
And finally do you have any insights into the future of mobile design, or any wishes for the future?
I really hope the phone becomes the hub, storing all my information. That I can take it everywhere. It kinda does this already, but why not be able to plug it into a car and automatically put on my favourite radio and adjust the seats for me etc.
Great, do you have any advice for people looking to enter the realm of design/development?
Don’t let follower count on Dribbble or Twitter hold you back. If you are persistent an produce quality work, you will be noticed. You just have to make sure not to give up.
That’s some pretty awesome stuff there. Thanks for your time Jeff!
That’s no problem, it was great. Thanks.
Well that was Jeff Broderick. You can find him on his personal site, on Dribbble where you can see his latest work, or on Twitter. Jeff has done some wonderful work and I would recommend you give any of those links a visit!