In the second episode of The Savvy Apps Podcast, Ken chats with well-known app creator and Apple Design Award winner Jeremy Olson. They discuss the differences in app design, business models, market, and user expectations from the early days of the App Store to today. Now that Jeremy is at Coda, they also discuss what it's like to transition from being an indie developer to building apps within a startup.

Show Notes

  • 00:24 — Introducing this episode's guest: Jeremy Olson, designer at Coda.
  • 1:53 — A look at Jeremy's background, including how a failing grade prompted him to create his first app, Grades.
  • 4:45 — Using Tapity to record his journey, keep himself accountable, and share the successes of other app creators (also see interviews with Sprynt and Unboxed).
  • 6:03 — Skeuomorphic designs in Grades and winning an Apple Design Award.
  • 8:28 — Adopting the design language introduced in iOS 7 for the time-tracking app, Hours.
  • 12:04 — Business models, user expectations, and other important changes since the early days of the App Store.
  • 15:55 — Secrets of the most successful app developers.
  • 17:04 — Discussing those who have dominated the app stores in the past versus today's environment.
  • 18:08 — Today's apps are more connected than they were originally.
  • 19:30 — What Coda is and how it solves problems for teams that run off of documents.
  • 24:10 — Charlotte, N.C. to Silicon Valley; transitioning from being an indie founder to being an employee at a startup.
  • 28:25 — The not-so-typical, typical day at Coda.
  • 30:30 — Moving from Sketch to the more collaborative Figma.
  • 32:04 — The differences of building for the web compared to mobile.
  • 35:22 — Planning and executing on new features.
  • 38:12 — Making space for your product's vision alongside feature requests and more immediate needs.
  • 39:49 — Using a monthly cadence to plan out and balance a product's lifecycle.
  • 41:00 — Research, user testing, research, and catching potential problems upstream.
  • 45:17 — The most important lesson Jeremy learned from creating apps since 2010.

Key Takeaways

  1. The app market and user expectations are far more demanding today than the early days of app stores.
  2. Successful developers learn how to think about their app as a business and find the right tactics to scale that business.
  3. It's critical to strike a balance between feeding your passion for creating apps and running a sustainable business.


We'd like to thank Jeremy for sharing his thoughts with us. You can connect with him on Twitter @jerols as well as on Medium. You may also run into him at WWDC '18. Want more of The Savvy Apps Podcast? Listen to our first episode and check back soon for episode three.

April 19, 2018
Written By:

Whitney Rhodes

Whitney Rhodes is the lead editor for the Savvy Apps blog. She helps share Savvy Apps' extensive knowledge with all who seek to build better apps.