Six Central is a new client proposal and organization and management tool that is just fresh out of the blocks. It just recently launched (within the last 12hrs) Earlier Wess and Ryan took the time to answer some questions about their app and what some of the inside scoop is.
Who is the team behind SixCentral?
SixCentral is comprised of 3 members: 2 developers and 1 UI designer. The lead developer, Wess Cope, has over 10 years of industry experience with a vast knowledge of many different languages including Python, the primary language of SixCentral. Sean Kerr also has over 10 years of industry experience and has most recently been involved in the formulation of D, an entirely new programming language. Ryan Scherf handles all aspects of user interface and experience design.
Who designed the web app and how did you decide to settle on the final design?
As noted above, Ryan Scherf was responsible for front-end design and development. There were really two simple objectives to the interface:
- We didn’t want anything too ’stark’ and ‘boring’. We realized that we would be marketing to designers in the short term, and felt that we needed an application design that would make us stand out against the competition.
- The product needed to be easy to use. Since our target market was freelance designers, we could not assume that they were extremely technical or savvy, so therefore needed to ensure the experience was easy enough for any demographic.
What is the main reason that you came up with a Client Proposal Organization & Management System? (i.e. others made a bad stab at it, there isn’t anything else in the market etc.)
The idea actually came about as Ryan went off on a rant about not having an automated way to manage his freelance business. There is really not tool exactly like ours in the market (although one conveniently ’sprung’ up as we started developing). The niche seemed too critical to pass up, so we threw up a landing page with some ideas and immediately had hundreds of people asking about it.
What were some of the pitfalls that you ran into during the building of this app?
Our biggest pitfall was always time. All 3 of us have full time jobs and families, and trying to find time at the end of the day to work on the application was really a struggle. We really started off on the right foot and released our first beta in a month, however we lost steam as the day jobs started demanding more time from all of us. Staying on track while life was happening around us was really tough — but we somehow pushed through.
To monetize the application, we plan to provide two separate plans: a free plan, and a subscription plan for $10/month. The free plan will be limited to a lower number of interactions with SixCentral, while the pay plan will have unlimited access to all of the features and interactions. This was as much of a fun and team building project as it was to make money, so we are just really excited to launch it and move on to the next project.
Managing client proposals is something that has to be kept secure. How have you addressed this situation for SixCentral?
Each client is given a private URL, based on and created by the SixCentral user. For example, a client like Apple could potentially receive a URL like: http://username.sixcentral.com/apple. Once a client goes to their client login page, they will have to use their e-mail address as well as a password created for them by the SixCentral user to log in.
We also plan to use a secure socket layer or HTTPS for a secure connection to the user.
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The screenshots of your applications look amazingly clean and simple, how does this relate to having a great UI and ultimately a great UX for the end user?
We feel that the UI is the most important part about building any app. Sure, the technology is pretty cool behind the app (Django), but without an easy-to-use and simple UI, the users won’t come back. As we mentioned above, this is especially true with our target market of freelance designers, as generally we as designers are very opinionated and have an eye for when things are right or wrong.
One of the options that SixCentral has is Follow Up reminders. How crucial is having follow up reminders so you don’t let potential clients and potential business slip through the cracks.
As freelancers, we are generally awarded the luxury of missed or slipped deadlines and usually it goes unnoticed. However, unless you have an amazing memory, we all forget certain items each day. Our follow-up reminders were designed to help you stay on track, whether you are managing one client or dozens. Keep on track with your timelines will show your clients a professionalism and timeliness that they may not have experienced before with other freelancers.
Automation of your proposal process is going to be a great way to streamline your proposal process and keep you on task and not wasting time shuffling through papers. How did you manage to pull this off successfully in this app?
We’ve broken out Proposals into 5 main pieces: Overview, Purpose & Goals, Process & Deliverables, Pricing Specifics and Other. This allows the user to be completely organized in terms of having a structured framework for their proposals, as well as the flexibility and vagueness to where the sections are left for interpretation. We have also implemented Textile, so the markup within each section can become as rich as they’d like in terms of bulleted lists, bold text, etc.
The key feature for Proposal automation is the ability to import previous Proposals to where you can simply just duplicate an older proposal (or perhaps a proposal template you have created). The idea is that you would create a single Proposal template that you could then in turn duplicate and use time and time again.
We do have plans to create versions of SixCentral on different mediums in the future using our custom API. An iPhone app is a bit tricky because of the heavy content that could perhaps be included with each Proposal. We’re examining different ideas of read only views, or even allowing for you to comment on your different projects, but not necessarily pump the full functionality of SixCentral into an iPhone app — it’s just too complex.
Need More Six Central in Your life?
Here are some places you can connect with the brand and the guys from the interview.
Designer, Maker of Things | Creative Director – @boomtownroi