An interview with Jane Portman

By Ed Vinicombe on May 3rd, 2017

Hey there, Jane! For those who haven’t met you yet, would you mind introducing yourself and giving us a little bit of info about your background?

Nice to meet everyone at the awesome!

I’m Jane Portman, a UI/UX consultant from Russia, widely known for my UI Breakfast website. Besides consulting, I do plenty of other things: speak at conferences, write books (including the one we’ll be talking about), host a podcast, and run my own SaaS product called Tiny Reminder.

You’ve recently published a book, “The UI Audit”. Could you give us an overview of what the book is about and why you decided to write this now?

Sure! “The UI Audit” is my third book. I set out to write a self-help guide specifically for web applications. Remembering the lessons from the previous books, I wanted to make this one concise, focused, and highly practical.

My primary goal was to help founders who can’t afford expensive design services. The book is the first step of my product ladder, but it’s not a teaser product (“hire me to learn more”) — it’s a self-sufficient, well-rounded guide.

I wanted to show that great design always stems from product strategy, which consists of four elements: audience, goals, tasks, objects. The book helps founders to take a fresh 30,000 feet view of their web app, and approach design strategically.

The book is a collection of your experiences from working as a consultant. Could you describe to us how this experience has contributed to you making this book?

First of all, it’s the general way I approach UI/UX after 12 years of design work. It’s the philosophy I want to spread around — keeping things simple and functional (and understanding that they’ll never be 100% perfect).

And second, it’s the knowledge gathered specifically around web applications. While working on the book, I did numerous custom UI audits for my clients. These audits helped me find common design patterns and flaws.

Who is best placed to get the most benefit from your book?

As I mentioned above, the book is written for SaaS founders. Focusing on such narrow audience allowed me to be super-crisp in my language and recommendations.

Later on, however, I realized that I’m missing out on the audience of UI/UX designers. So I did a rewrite of the sales page addressing a more general audience of “people who need to design web apps.” Here’s an article where I talk about this shift in positioning.

What feedback have you gotten from the industry so far? Has this gone down well?

As of today, the book collected over $14,000 in total sales. The response has been great — it was particularly nice to hear back from the excited founders. Here’s a huge interview on Indie Hackers where I talk about the numbers and the process.

It feels that the book addressed very important needs, so I’m looking to improve it rather than publish something else. Right now I’m doing more custom audits and working on the second edition of the book. It will include a fresh set of interviews and several new chapters.

Tell us about Tiny Reminder :)

Tiny Reminder is my new product, and I’m very excited about it! It helps people collect things from busy clients. We play “bad cop” with automated notifications until your client submits their form. It works great for collecting information, payments, files, as well as onboarding podcast guests and conference speakers.

With this product, I went the “solo design founder” route and hired the awesome Benedikt Deicke to do development for me. There’s a lot at stake, and I can’t wait to see it grow.

What are your plans for Tiny Reminder in 2017?

The big goal is to grow Tiny Reminder to $5,000 monthly recurring revenue by the end of 2017. It’s a big challenge, considering the fact that most people are on the Forever Free plan! However, there’s a viral component built into the product, because it’s client-facing. My big inspiration here is Calendly, which demonstrated amazing growth using the same freemium model.

Now that the product is in good shape, the strategy is to address niche audiences who have a stronger need for automated reminders (for example, podcasters).

As we’re wrapping up this interview, here’s something special for our readers! Go to the book page and use your promocode UXCLUB50 on checkout to get 50% off any book package. Or just download your sample chapter with worksheets.

Wow! That's awesome. Thanks Jane!

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