Funsize Ventures: Ballpark

Modernizing a favorite application and reaching new users.

JD Graffam and Rick Messer at Happy Hour

The Ballpark Story

Way back in 2008, Andrew Wilkinson and his team at Metalab designed and launched Ballpark, a time tracking and invoicing application. They created it to meet the needs of their studio, and as it turns out, the needs of many freelancers and small businesses. When it launched, Ballpark’s aesthetic design was contemporarily slick making it wildly popular among the design and development communities. At the time, it was also a great example of what you could achieve with modern mobile design and customizing interface elements vs. using Apple’s stock patterns (at least to me).

The original 2008 iPhone Design

Six years later, in 2014, Metalab announced that they were looking to sell Ballpark and give it a new home where it could grow and continue to flourish. My fellow Bureau of Digital Agency owner and friend JD Graffam from Simple Focus purchased Ballpark and became it’s new “Owner and General Manager”. I love baseball analogies. ;)

Opportunity and Challenge

As soon as I heard the news, I congratulated both companies on the announcement of the sale and then immediately reached out to JD to communicate some of the opportunities that I saw for Ballpark to up it’s game for it’s current user base and reach new heights by finally releasing an Android Application.

“We’re gonna be running an exciting workshop this week to add design value to his product Ballpark. This is a Funsize Ventures project so we’re investing our time and money into something we love.“

Anyone who knows me knows that I have very strong and passionate opinions about certain companies and products needing to serve Android users to be successful. Multiple platforms aren’t important for everyone but if you release a communication application and it can’t work for people and different tribes of people and their family and friends, your product will fail. Along this line of thinking, how can a small growing company select and use an important financial product that only works on iPhone? JD agreed and so it was a match made in heaven.

Funsize 3-Day Design Sprint

JD and I spent a few days discussing Android and other potential growth opportunities including: refreshing the branding, design language, iconography, iPhone design, and of course, Android. We would use our two studios expertise to divide and conquer the work. Funsize would own the mobile product design.

Day 1: Kick-off and Planning

JD arrived in Austin and we got straight to it. On our first day, we met to review the current product, Simple Focus’s vision, and the goals of the next two days.

Day 2: Conceptual Design

The next day, we started working on design by dividing the open questions into three distinct areas and assigning each designer to one challenge. Working with clarity and focus helped us cover all of the needed ground in a single day.

  1. JD: The product owner and decision maker.
  2. Me: Sprint facilitator, time keeper, and design collaborator.
  3. Natalie Armendariz: Explore a modern Android design solution that incorporated new branding and color treatments.
  4. Rick Messer: Explore conceptual time tracking interfaces to see how far we could push the limits of the conventional timer.
  5. Jim Jordan: Explore completely new paradigms for time tracking and reporting in a design which could accommodate both Android and iPhone needs.
Brand directions and modern Android design
Time tracking explorations
Conceptual Prototype

Day 3: Finalize the Design and Deliver

We decided to move forward with a simple professional look and feel which could be applied to both the existing iPhone application and a new Android application. The difference in the two platforms would be key patterns associated with each platform such as the App Bar, global navigation, and search patterns. We applied the new design to all of the existing screens in the product, delivered the design to JD and his team, and then went to celebrate over a fancy bottle of bourbon.

“Thanks again to everyone for hosting me, and thank you Anthony and Natalie for your generosity and heart!” — JD

If you’re a freelancer, small business or team looking for a simple and elegant solution for estimates, time tracking, and invoicing; check out BallPark!

More from Funsize Ventures

If you’re interested in Funsize investing in your company or product with design, please introduce yourself and apply here. We’re looking forward to meeting you. In the meantime check out these other case studies.

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