… and I’m here to answer some of your burning questions.
Nice to meet you! I’m the product manager here at Ballpark. If you’ve ever contacted support, there’s a chance you’ve spoken to me. But for the most part, I stay behind the scenes having meetings and directing our vision and new features. I’ve been coordinating the efforts behind the Ballpark redesign we’ve been talking about lately here on the blog.
I recently met with our digital marketing partner (we’ll tell you all about them in a future post) and we chatted about all the stuff we’ve been working on here over the last few months. Here’s a questionnaire from their discovery if you’re interested; maybe we answered a few questions you’ve had too!
What’s the origin story behind the Ballpark redesign?
It’s just not organized the way we want it to be. We’ve got a lot of plans for valuable features for our customers with big teams, and there’s just not a lot of room for those features right now. So we decided that we could kind of knock out a few things out at once if we did a redesign: we could rework the foundation of Ballpark to make the UI smarter; we could address the concern that Ballpark isn’t really being actively developed (which was never true, but visually it may have appeared that way); and we could make a UI that gave us room to grow.
When did you start working on it?
We started working on the actual look-and-feel stuff in February, but the thinking and planning phase started back in the fall.
Where did you begin?
The plan was to take into account all the user feedback we’ve gathered ever since we took over (which has been a substantial amount), as well as our own vision for how the product can make growing creative agencies better at the business part of their business.
After figuring out what parts needed the most work, we told the designers that nothing should limit their thinking. At Simple Focus, our partners hire us in part because we’re so good at designing objectively. We wanted to do this with our own product. What I mean is that we approach design based on how it should work for the user, without letting the knowledge of technical limitations or business rules cloud our vision. Of course, after you do that for a little while, at some point you’ve got to move from that frame of mind into reality, and that’s where we’re at now. We took a few of our crazy but smart ideas and made them achievable—that’s just the creative process.
What is the biggest challenge of the redesign so far?
The biggest hurdle is that we’re still an agency. To be honest, that’s probably also the thing that makes us most qualified to be working on Ballpark in the first place. Ballpark is as much for us as for all of our users. We need it to work better than it does for what we do. But yeah, having client work and product work means we’ve got to be really intentional about our time and resource allocation.
Our owner, JD Graffam, has chosen to invest a ton of into Ballpark, we’re finally treating it like a client who has a big budget. He talks a lot about the “opportunity cost” of us working on Ballpark. Basically, we could be working on billable work, but we’re not. He’s been very supportive of our vision for the product.
Who are the ideal BP users?
The new Ballpark is going to be better at helping you run your business. Invoicing is crucial, time tracking is helpful, but there are lots of other SaaS businesses that are doing those things. What we’re moving towards is making Ballpark your tool for growing your business, not just maintaining it. It’s more than just a big collection of features, it’s going to be a vision-setting tool. Of course that means adding features like real budgets (not just hours), expenses, and one day, more powerful cash flow and resource allocation tools. But we’re being really intentional about the way those features are going to work together, and that’s where the vision-setting stuff really comes into play.
With other timer and invoicing apps on the market, where does Ballpark fit?
Ballpark already does invoicing well, and it’s OK at time-tracking. Where Ballpark is moving though, is tying these things together in a super smart and intuitive way (and making them way better than they are now). We’re heavily investing in making Ballpark something that everyone on your team can use.
What is one the thing you are the most excited about?
I’m really pumped about the way our UI updates are going to give folks a clear idea of how to use Ballpark and what it’s capable of doing. There will be a methodology, in a way. A while back we introduced Projects, but to be honest, they weren’t anywhere close to perfect. They were also optional, so there wasn’t really a reason to use them unless you felt like being super organized. We’ve fixed Projects and now they make sense. But that deserves a blog post by itself probably (to be continued?).
Why should current users be on the edge of their seats?
There’s going to be something to be excited about whether you’re a Timer-Only user or an Admin. For Admins, you’re going to really enjoy the way reporting is going to work. We talked about that a little bit on the Timers post. For Timer-Only users, you’re going to love the new My Timesheet view. That’ll keep you from having to sift through everyone else’s time and make you more efficient. More efficient Timer user means better reporting, which means a clearer picture of your business performance, which lets you take action.
What do you think new customers will be most excited about? Why should someone jump into Ballpark?
Probably the structure. Right now Ballpark is a little too free-form. There’s not really a best way to do stuff. A big draw of Ballpark now is how cool the Invoices/Estimates look; they’re getting some attention too, so that will continue to be a big part of what makes Ballpark enjoyable to use for new folks.
When will it be ready?
We’re planning on rolling out the new Ballpark to our beta testers that signed up on our announcement post sometime in late April. Based on how all of that goes, we’re hoping to get everyone on the new Ballpark by June. But we’re not going to release something that’s busted, so if the beta shows us that we missed the mark on something, we’re going to fix it before we push it.
If I missed anything please comment below! This is one of my favorite subjects, and there’s going to be something to love for everybody. It’s absolutely been a labor of love and I can’t wait to show you all the better and more beautiful Ballpark.
Stay tuned, sports fans.