John Saddington’s life and career has been one of evolution and passion. Born in South Korea, raised in New Jersey, and now at home in Atlanta, Georgia, John built his first program, a Choose-Your-Own adventure game written in BASIC, at the age of 11. His love for programming has remained integral to his career. After graduate school, he worked for a few Fortune 50 companies, founded a few startups (exited a bunch), and started to develop a career as an independent app developer. A few months ago, Apple recognized his most recent indie app, Desk, as one of the Best Apps of 2014.
1: What was the concept behind Desk? What’s the mission that drives it?
The concept behind Desk started many, many years ago in 2002, when I was on a road trip with my brother and I was attempting to blog via the passenger seat. I lamented the fact that I didn’t have an app that I could write in offline that could tie directly to my blogging platform when I jumped back online. Fast-forward 11 years later, and I finally decided that it was time that I built the desktop blogging and publishing app that I had always wanted. Desk was officially born! Its mission and sole purpose is to help content creators create content. It exists to help the writer write and the blogger publish their content without the distraction of the internet and of the back-end admin panel. And, if I am to be abstract in a small way, I hope that Desk App helps people fall more deeply in love with writing.
2: When it came to designing your app, what was the aesthetic you were pushing for?
The app is super-simple and nothing over-the-top amazing to look upon at first glance. Honestly, the Spartan-look is really the way to go because it helps the writer focus on what really matters: Writing. Consequently, when I started working on the design of the website, I wanted to keep this simple approach as well. Selling a product, though, requires a lot of education and it’s hard to do that in an effective way while keeping things simple.
As a result, I have already pivoted three or four times on the landing and marketing pages after things were not converting as I would have liked. I have written a retrospective on the last iteration here.
3: What’s the favorite part of your job? Why?
The best part of my “job” with Desk is the fact that I get to use the app every single day for my own needs and that I also get to see other people use it as well. There’s no feeling quite like knowing that other people, all over the world, are using something that you made and something that you love.I’m not sure that will ever get old!
4: If you could pick a dream creative partnership, with whom or with what brand/company would it be?
Oh, there are tons of organizations I would love to work with but one that immediately came to mind was teehan+lax (before they were aqui-hired by Facebook) – a digital design and creative agency that has done some amazing work, like Readability App, Medium.com, and Prismatic App. I mean, these guys get it when it comes to digital experiences that relate to storytelling.
I’d also love to work with Ev Williams… on whatever he’s working on. He’s a guy that inspires me and his work on Blogger, Twitter, and Medium is just right up my alley. I’ve been building communication apps for the longest time, and I appreciate his fresh and different perspective on what really works in digital.
5: What can we expect in terms of content in 2015?
Well, one of the most important things that I do every day is that I write content for the Desk Blog just simply telling my story of how I create, manage, and maintain an indie app within the Mac App Store. I share my failures, my successes, and all of my learnings as I try to make this small app and business work.
My goal is to simply help and encourage others to pursue their projects with passion and to be successful in whatever way(s) that they may define success. I’ll continue to write on the blog, through my weekly newsletter, and through our growing community forums as long as they’ll have me!
6: If there’s one thing you would like people to know about Desk, what would it be?
Desk was built for writers by a writer (and one who is somewhat obsessed with blogging). It won’t ever win any design awards but that was never the goal; what it will do is help you write more and more often and, because you’re now writing more, you will naturally andover time become a better writer and storyteller. That is my hope for you.