In 2007, as a freelance designer, I was having trouble presenting design concepts to my clients in the browser. Sending JPGs over email, or presenting from multi-page PDFs didn’t do a great job at showing my work to its full potential — plus email was a terrible way to gather contextual feedback. So I built my own solution, Prevue.
Through constant progression, iteration, reinvention and plenty of late nights — I took Prevue from a side project to the profitable concept sharing and feedback platform for over 30,000 designers and agencies worldwide. Up until its acquisition in early-2018 it was a project built and managed solely by myself.
Prevue was my excuse to learn coding — and my testbed for all the cool hacks and techniques I could never get away with at my full-time job… resulting in a deep appreciation for marketing, business and the art of releasing software.
Evolution Direct link
Over the course of a decade, the product saw almost constant iteration — evolving both in UI but also audience. It went from a product only used by myself and a handful of peers, to the go-to tool for thousands of designers and agencies all over the world.
Above is the original dashboard I used to share my work with clients 16 years ago. Below is the same view when I left Prevue, with projects and client groups.
UI Playground Direct link
I wanted the interface to feel as close to a native design tool as possible — and I saw Prevue as an opportunity to take UI risks that I couldn’t afford at a larger company or client. The details became my obsession, which I wrote about here.
Behind-the-scenes Direct link
I also used this as an opportunity to have some fun with internal-facing tools, like a lightweight and mobile-first CMS that allowed me to quickly overview activity in the app. It’s not often you get the opportunity to make design decisions “just because”, so my own little app changed colors for no good reason, used over-the-top animation and was generally more delightful than actually useful.
Being a developer-designer also gave me some experience in making design decisions through code, like how Prevue guesses a custom domain and why you might end up with “ultimate-koala” as a username.