Interview with Peter Severin (WireframeSketcher)
WireframeSketcher is a software tool that helps designers, developers and product managers quickly and easily create mockups/prototypes for desktop, web and mobile applications.
I interviewed Peter Severin, WireframeSketcher founder to find out more. This interview is the twenty ninth in a series of DW interviews. Big thank you to Peter for the interview!
How would you describe WireframeSketcher in under 50 words?
WireframeSketcher is a software tool that helps product managers, designers and developers quickly create wireframes, mockups and prototypes for desktop, web and mobile applications. It’s standalone desktop software and a plug-in for any Eclipse IDE.
What made you decide to start working on WireframeSketcher?
I was looking for good wireframing tool and couldn’t find one. A few tools that I did find were too simplistic for my needs. At the same time I was also looking for an idea to spend my evenings on and a wireframing tool seemed an easy enough target.
What technologies have you used to build WireframeSketcher?
WireframeSketcher is written in Java and it’s based on Eclipse technology. Since I had a lot of experience with Eclipse I thought that it was a good choice. Eclipse started first as an IDE for Java but it evolved into a platform for solid, cross-platform applications. If I had to make a choice today I would choose the same technology. Eclipse has a very good momentum and gets better every day.
Would you recommend starting a one-person company?
It worked for me, but I think it’s not for everyone. A person choosing this way must be prepared to invest a lot of time but also have certain qualities. I like to compare it with running a marathon. One needs a lot of patience, endurance and will. I like how Haruki Murakami describes it in his memoir “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” where he draws parallels between running marathons and writing.
How different is the current version of WireframeSketcher compared to your initial launch?
It’s a much better product now. This is natural and this is how incremental development works. WireframeSketcher started as a minimum viable product and evolved by integrating user feedback into a better product.
How much time do you spend working on WireframeSketcher on an average day?
I avoid putting in long hours but I try to work on WireframeSketcher every day, even on weekends. To make this possible I went as far as to change my sleeping habits. I wake up early at 5am and do 2 hours of solid work when everybody is still asleep. I also try to stay fit, run and exercise regularly and eat healthy food. This allows me to keep my life balanced.
What techniques have been most successful in growing WireframeSketcher?
I tried different things but the one that worked best for me was to concentrate on what my users need. So I listened to user feedback, analysed it, came up with solutions and then implemented them. This is how I added screen linking, group editing and component overriding. Quite often problems were technically very challenging and I had to spend several weeks just to see what a good solution looks like, and then a few more to implement it. For example it took me one month of continuous work to implement component overriding – a feature that lets users to customize an instance of a component without breaking the link to its original source. This process is mentally very challenging and it’s a hard work to stay motivated and not to loose focus all this time. But there is also a feeling of great satisfaction when the problem is finally cracked.
You have some extemely impressive clients: Bank of Canada, eBay, IBM and Subaru to name a few. How difficult is it to make these big sales?
To me it’s like any other sale. I didn’t go after these clients, they came to me. This is the magic of internet. I just focus on making WireframeSketcher as good as I possible can. One nice thing about big clients is that they buy a lot of licenses and require little to no support. I like that.
Can you convince the reader to demo WireframeSketcher in under 50 words?
WireframeSketcher is a good, old desktop tool that’s fast and produces beautiful results. It has been in development since 2008 and is used by thousands of users worldwide. It comes with quick and responsive support. If you need a stable and solid wireframing tool in your toolbox, consider WireframeSketcher.
Finished reading? Check out WireframeSketcher!