Corey Haggard, a self taught designer, and the owner of Mossio, and his team, are the developers we have been working with on Nucleus. He joins us to discuss their communication strategy, what it takes to build an entirely new platform.
What’s In This Session?
- How to succeed when you’re young and self-taught (10:22)
- The curse of the creative (and why we always hate our old work) (12:57)
- Brady’s nervous call to Corey proposing the Nucleus project (15:02)
- How to bring to life a creative idea that you didn’t dream up (18:56)
- A proven communication workflow for a creative project (22:44)
- Managing conflict on creative projects (27:06)
- Best design software? Sketch vs. Photoshop (33:34)
- Hosting conversations on design prototypes with InVision (36:23)
- The future of Nucleus from the perspective of the lead designer (40:05)
Show Notes & Resources Mentioned
- Mossio on Twitter
- Mossio on Facebook
- Mossio on Instagram
- Mossio on Dribbble
3 Instant Takeaways
- You’re always going to be your biggest critic. Creatives always look back at their past work and see its flaws, but at some point you need to acknowledge that you are always progressing. You will always be developing with practice, and looking back those mistakes and attempts as stepping stones to improving your craft.
- You have to have a plan. The first step in bringing someone else’s vision to life is to have a plan. You need to know the journey your project is going to take from beginning to completion. What resources is this project going to take? What is each team member’s role?
- Don’t let your conflict simmer. Keeping open lines of communication in a creative project is incredibly important. Making room to discuss creative differences, and to talk about areas of conflict, and create a plan to improve, frees up everyone to contribute and make the end product its best version.
The Full Transcript
This is the Pro Church Podcast, Session 168: Designing a new platform from the ground up with Corey Haggard. Well, hey there, Pro Church Nation! Welcome to the Pro Church Podcast. You’re now part of a small group of pioneering churches doing everything we can to seize the 167 hours beyond our Sunday services. Why? Because we’re living through the biggest communication shift in the last 500 years, and what got us here won’t get us there. I’m Brady, your host, and this is session number 168, and you can find the show notes for this session at prochurchtools.com/168. In this session of the podcast, we’re joined by Corey Haggard, discussing the Nucleus build from scratch and what it took. So let’s do it. Welcome back to another session of the Pro Church Podcast. My name’s Brady, I’m your host. Thanks for coming along for the ride with us. We’d like to start off each and every session by sharing with you a pro tip or a practical tool that you can begin using in your ministry right away, and we get a lot of questions about the captions on our videos. If you are connected with us on Facebook (facebook.com/prochurchtools) or on YouTube (www.youtube.com/prochurchtools), you’ll know that all of our videos come with captions. So, if you’re watching without audio on Facebook, you can read along with the video, same goes with YouTube. Well, how do we do our captions? We also do transcriptions for audio. For podcast, how do we do our transcriptions? We use a company called “Rev” (rev.com). They are our secret behind-the-scenes transcribers and caption-adders for the videos that we do, and the audio that we do. And what makes Rev great is the quality, they’re speed, and they’re price. Transcriptions and captions cost $1/minute. So let’s say you have a 4-minute video. You can get it captioned for just $4. And the speed is incredible. They get our captions and transcriptions to us in 24 hours or less, usually a lot faster — even when our podcasts or videos are long. Transcribing a podcast takes — there’s 60 minutes in there, and they still get it really quickly to us. And the quality is great, you know, very, very few errors or mistakes. 99% of what they’re sending us is perfectly transcribed. And so if you need any captions or transcriptions, Rev is really kind of the industry standard. This isn’t a small company. It’s the industry standard when it comes to translation, captions, and transcriptions. Head over to rev.com if you need something from them, and hopefully they can help you out in a similar way to the way they helped us out. You know, especially if you’re doing videos on Facebook, you really need to have captions nowadays. Now, Facebook does have a built-in caption adder if you are doing a video ad, but if you’re uploading a free video, I do not believe they will give you access to that caption software. And so, Rev, they actually have a real person go through your entire video, your entire speech, your entire podcast — whatever if might be — and by hand, transcribe. And so it’s not automatic software; they have a real person doing it, which is awesome. 99% accurate. All you have to — accuracy, rather. All you have to do is upload your files. They even have an iPhone transcription app, and you get a complete transcript or captions that way. One thing that we found really cool is that they actually have an API that builds into YouTube. And so you can upload a hidden YouTube video, they can do the captions for it, and then automatically add the captions to the YouTube video and upload that file — the SRT file — so you don’t even have to do it yourself. They’ll actually add the captions to your YouTube videos automatically, which is super helpful. You still have to do it yourself for Facebook, I believe, at least at this time, but they’ll even do it automatically with YouTube with that API, which is very, very cool. Rev. com. With that being said, it’s time to transition for our interview for the week today. We are joined by a friend of mine, a professional colleague of mine: Corey Haggard. Corey is self-taught, he’s a designer — he’s just like the rest of us except for Corey owns a successful digital agency called Mossio. Mossio: they’re a phenomenal digital agency, and they’re the agency we use for all of our digital design, development — they’re the ones that helped us build Nucleus. So, we’re gonna chat with Corey all about what it takes to design a new platform from the ground up, using Nucleus kind of as a template. So we talk about how to succeed when you’re young and self-taught; the curse of the creative, as Corey calls it; Brady’s nervous call to Corey proposing the Nucleus project — I still remember it very well — we talk through that; how to bring life to a creative idea that you didn’t dream up — you know, like when your pastor comes to you and says, “Hey, do this,” and you’re like, “I-okay, I’ve gotta do it;” managing conflict on creative projects — Corey and I are no stranger when it comes to that; the best design software, and why Corey and his team do not use Photoshop; hosting conversations on design prototypes; and the future of Nucleus from the perspective of our lead designer. Lots of great stuff in this session of the podcast. I hope you enjoy it! We’ll be back in just a moment with my interview with Corey Haggard. Well, hey there, Pro Church Nation. Welcome back to another session of the Pro Church Podcast. Today, we’re joined by a very special guest, whom I know very well, but you’ve likely never heard of. Today we’re welcoming Corey Haggard to the show. Corey, what’s up?
Hey, man. Thanks for having me, buddy.
So, Cor, before we jump into our personal relationship, and how we know one another, can you just tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Yeah, so I’ve been a designer now — I’m basically a graphic designer for interfaces, for web and mobile applications. And I’ve been a designer now for about 12 years. I run a small digital agency called Mossio, and we’ve been working with the Pro Church Tools team now since around October? Somewhere around there, right?
So yeah, I’m just a designer, and creating interfaces for applications — software applications.
I got in touch with you guys, I guess it was early September or late September, and we began actually working together at the beginning of October, and you were the interface designer, and Mossio was the dev. team — the full agency that was behind the Pro Video Announcements build. And of course, probably more importantly, the Nucleus build. And so I kind of wanted to spend the majority of our call today kind of talking about what it takes to design a platform from scratch, Cor, because what you do is, like, it’s interesting. A lot of people see themselves — this is what the church world is like: the church world is, you’re a youth pastor, or a student pastor, or a worship pastor, or a lead pastor, and you’re a smaller church, or you’re even a bigger church (sometimes surprisingly), and you are tasked with the visuals at your church. So either you sign up for a cool service where you can download pre-made templates (maybe Envoto Elements or a church-specific one, like Graceway Media). If you’re lucky, maybe you’re a step beyond that, and you actually have some graphic design experience. And then if you’re a step beyond that, you’re a specialist within the world of graphic design. And that’s where I would put you: you are a specialist within the entire world of graphic design, focusing on, you know, the UI’s of interfaces and that. Can you tell us a little bit about where you kind of got your skills and how that all started? I know a lot of people are from the church world are self-taught. Does the same go for you?
Yeah, so I’ve been completely self-taught since high school. So I started out in high school doing an internet class. That’s when kind of, you know, the internet was still in its infancy, and I know that makes me sound super old, but I’m actually not. But, you know, the internet was still sort of in its infancy. Whenever I first was in high school and they offered an internet class, and you know, I just took that class, and basically the semester was about creating a fictional company and building a web presence for it. You know, we all did it through like Dream Weaver and stuff like that, and like applications that were super new at the time. And so I just kind of like — I don’t know, man —I just kind of got in my element there, and I actually built a, you know, a non-fictional company, and it was a web-based hosting provider. And that’s kind of where I met my business partner, you know, a couple years down the road, I was at a web-hosting conference. Kind of just, you know, teaching myself different techniques, and teaching myself different ways to do design. I started off in Adobe Fireworks because Photoshop was just way too complicated for me. And so I needed something that I could learn, that I could pick up pretty easily. And yeah, I just started with like shapes and things like that. I didn’t even know what any kind of development. I didn’t even know the world of development at all. I didn’t know anything about HTML or CSS or anything. And so I just started in Fireworks and kind of grew from there. But everything has been self-taught since day one, so it’s kind of been a trial and error kind of thing. Like what works? What doesn’t work? And what feels — what feels right to me as a designer? What looks good and what doesn’t look good? And you know, you kind of just build off of that.
I saw a tweet yesterday from one of the designers at Intercom and he summed up — or she, actually, I don’t remember who it was — it was a retweet that showed up on my feed, but basically it said, “Graphic design is basically designing a bunch of stuff that’s crap. Then you accidentally do something good and press print.” And for someone who’s self-taught, I imagine like, I know that’s how my experience has been with graphic design, because I am a very limited designer. And so most of the time you’re just like experimenting with stuff, and you’re like, “I wonder if this overlay would look good if I blend it with this. And maybe if I tie, you know, try this type of saturation adjustment or this Photoshop action that I downloaded online — maybe it’ll vibe well.” And then eventually you stumble upon something that, I guess you consider okay. I wanted to ask you: so, obviously there’s a pretty significant timeline here from high school to now you’re in your 30’s and so, there’s obviously patience and time. But how do you go from someone who’s entirely self-taught — so you don’t have, let’s say, the “credentials” behind you of maybe a more established institution or something. How do you go from that to having high profile clients and working with some of the biggest brands in the world, doing design work for them? Because I know that a lot of people that are listening to this are younger within their churches — and it’s a different context, but you know, they’re trying to help their churches change, innovate, but they don’t have any formal experience in communications and design, and they’re younger. So how do you kind of like navigate that?
Yeah, so that’s an absolute great question, and kind of touching point on that is basically just sticking through it and being super passionate about your creative skill. I look back at designs that I did in 2008 and I mean, even in 2010/2011, I look at those designs now, and they’re just, I’m just like, “Oh my gosh, I cannot believe that clients would actually pay for something like that. It’s completely hideous!” And so, you know, it’s more of just sticking with your passion and learning from your mistakes and constantly using social media as a stepping stone to get your name know and get your work out there. And I know that, you know, a community of Gerbil has been absolutely phenomenal in helping me establish myself as a designer in the industry. I’ve been a part of the Gerbil community now since 2008 when, literally, that community was only about 30-40 members. So just constantly staying active in the design world, staying apprised to everything that’s going on in the industry, how design changes from, you know, the web 2.0 days to completely flat aesthetics that we have now. And so, basically, you know, starting off small, but just working your way up to bigger and bigger projects. When I first started design, I was working with clients that were only paying me $200 for full-fledged websites. And you know, you just work your way up, and you just keep using social media, keep getting your work in front of the eyes of people, and you know, one day you just start getting those bigger and better clients. It just happens.
You mentioned something that was interesting to me because, I think any creative can relate to this, and that is when you look back at something that you created a couple of years ago — sometimes even a couple months ago — and you look at it and you’re like, “How in the world did anyone pay for this? Or how in the world did I personally sign off on this?” And I’ve noticed that, that’s happened — let’s use cinematography for me, because that’s more my forte than design — I’ll look back on something that I made 5 years ago, 10 years ago, and then even like 2 years ago, and still feel that like, “Oh my goodness. What was I thinking?” Do you ever get to the point where you’re like, skilled even where you don’t look back 6, 12, 18, 24 months ago and think, “What was I thinking?” Or is that something that’s like constant?
No, I think as a creative, you know, I mean — and this goes, this is in the world of anything you do creative, whether it’s, you know, photography or design work or whatever — anything that’s involved in the creative space, if you are a creative in that space, you’re always going to be your biggest critic, and you’re always gonna look back at your previous work. No matter if it was even just a couple days ago, and just look at how you can do better and how you can improve it. But at some point, you know, you have to realize that, as a creative, you just constant get better with improved practice. And you know, now you can look back and look at those mistakes and know that, as you get better with your skill and as you sharpen your tool set, you’re not going to make those mistakes again. But, as a creative, you’re your biggest critic, and I think that designers are always going to do that. People in the creative fields, you know, like I said, no matter what kind of creative you’re doing, you’re always gonna be your biggest critic. You’re always going to look back at your previous work and just absolutely, you know, sometimes you’re just gonna absolutely hate the things that you’ve done. And I think that’s just part of the job. I think that’s just part of the job description, and that’s a curse of the creative, I think. And there’s just no way around it.
Yeah, I hear that. The curse of the creative. I kind of like that way of summing it up. Okay, so let’s dive a little bit into kind of the process of designing the Nucleus platform. So, I approach you, we worked together for, let’s say 2-3 months on the Pro Video Announcements — the PVA platform — and, you know, it was sometime during our earliest work together, I remember being on the phone with you, I was in Atlanta, and I was speaking at this conference, and I was on Google Hangouts with you, and I was like, “Guys, I’ve got this new idea. I’ve got this new platform that I wanna do. And it was my first — what was great with working with you guys, with Mossio, Corry, was that for the first 3 years of Pro Church Tools’ existence, the work that we did required me to be able to do that work. So I could outsource the little things here and there, but if I wanted to build a new website, it required me to do it, or if I wanted to launch a new, you know, e-book, a new course, a new type of content creation, it required me. And after we did the PVA project together, I remember thinking, “I wonder if Mossio has the capacity to build, like, software from scratch.” And it was working with you guys that enabled my own creative, you know, flow to just begin considering things that I never thought possible for a company like ours. And so I remember calling you and being like, “Can we build this?” And you were like, “Yeah, that’s fine. We can totally do that.” And I was like, “Really?” And you were like, “Of course!” And you were just like, so nonchalant about it and like, “Of course, yes, software — we’ve done that plenty of times.” And I was like, overjoyed because my biggest fear was calling you guys and being like, “Oooooh, software. Yeah, we can create websites, but software’s a whole different beast.” Do you remember kind of what that first interaction, that first call about Nucleus, was like?
Yeah, I remember that you were very excited, and obviously for the most obvious reasons, Nucleus was a fabulous idea. And I remember that you were just super excited about it. You could kind of tell that you were a little bit nervous, you were kind of going into unchartered waters there. And, you know, we’ve been working with clients now that are in that same kind of position, you know, where they’re getting into the SAAS world and, you know, it’s very new and excited, and they have all these really great ideas, but they’re not sure of a jumping off point. And so, you know, it was just really cool kind of being a part of that whole conversation of, like, can we do this, how do we, you know, what’s the initial step, how do we move forward from here, and what kind of goes into the planning? I don’t think that a lot of people realize how much planning and how much it really takes to launch a successful software as a service business. It’s very, very intricate. There’s a lot of metrics that obviously go involved in that, and I think, like, it’s an exciting place to be, but it’s also — it can be very nerve-racking at the same time. And I just remember that, you know, you kind of experienced all of those waves of emotions and working with you in the past, I think it was just really cool to see all that come to life, and all that start to form.
Yeah, one thing that we had working in our favour is that this wasn’t the first project that we had done together. We had gone through this PVA project, which had its own ups and downs, its own complications, its own unforeseen intricacies that we thought were gonna be simple, but then they weren’t. And then, you know, the statement of work was this, and then I said, “Let’s do this,” and you were like, “Okay, fine,” and then we were like, “Oh, that’s gonna take a longer than we thought.” And so we kind of like developed this back and forth relationship, and so diving into something as complicated as Nucleus that didn’t have any foundation. You know, Pro Video Announcements was an established product and brand and we were just giving it a facelift, whereas Nucleus was something that only existed in my head. And so let’s start there. When it comes to designing a platform, especially when you are the type of person that is doing work — creative work — for a creative idea that you didn’t come up with. And this is something that so many of the people that are listening to this, Corey, have to deal with. Their pastor comes to them and says, “Okay, I’ve got a new idea for, you know, a message series, and it’s gonna be called, ‘Grave Diggers.’ And I’m thinking, like, if we could get some actual graves, like flying out of the ground with some like, you know, bats that are in the sky, and it’s dark, but it’s not too dark, and it’s like” — you know, obviously that’s, like, an absurd and no one should take that. When someone comes to you with a creative idea, and then you are the one that has to execute on that. You know, it’s easy — it’s like, if someone came to you and said, “I want you to write a song and I know how it goes in my head, but you know, good luck creating it.” What is it like when someone comes to you with a creative idea and then you’re the one who has to make it come to life? What is your process for doing that?
Well, first I can say that it’s super exciting. It’s always exciting to work on new ideas and working in this industry for a very long time, you know, you kind of hear all sorts of ideas. And so, you know, hearing like really, really good ideas and knowing that they can actually come to life from, you know, from just a small little idea to an actual platform that users will use is really exciting. And so, the first thing is obviously a plan, a plan of action. And you have to have a plan to get into any kind of software as a service business. It’s essential. Or any kind of design that you’re doing, you have to have a plan, you have to have a road paved that, you know, that you can travel down, while you’re making designs, and while you’re creating designs that users are gonna use, or that visitors are gonna see on a website, or anything like that. And so a lot of white boarding takes place, a lot of user prototypes take place. There’s a lot of behind the scenes things that clients don’t really see that actually take place before and during a project. And with any kind of creative type, just with anything — I mean, you mentioned video and things like that before, I mean, there’s so much that takes place that a lot of people don’t really think about, like setting lighting, setting up three-point lighting systems, and setting up, you know, your sound systems, and then doing the editing. I know that you and I had talked about this a few weeks back. There’s just so much involved, and so, you know, design for the digital world isn’t any different, especially when you’re creating an app that a lot of people are gonna use. There’s a lot of planning that goes into it, there’s a lot of, like I said, a lot of white boarding, a lot of protoyping, a lot of end-to-end points, you know, what happens when a user clicks here, what happens when they go here? So there’s a lot of like team collaboration, and that’s why being a part of such a collaborative team, such a vibrant team that’s willing to work with each other and willing to work with their clients is super imperative. It’s so important to the success of any design project. And that’s basically what goes into the initial steps is so much planning. And you need planning on all the parts. You need planning from the designer, you need planning from everybody. And that’s basically what goes into it. You have that kind of atmosphere throughout the whole entire project, as you’ve seen, where collaboration is an absolute necessity through day-in/day-out operations.
We’ve found, like you and I and the other team members that are on the Nucleus, and the past PVA project, and the future projects — the secret projects, Corey, that we have in the works (mwuhuhuhuh) coming later this year — how important communication is. I know exactly what our communication workflow looks like, but I had never experienced something like that until we first began working together. You know, in prior agencies that I’ve worked with, you know, we had maybe a weekly kind of talk over email, or over Base Camp, or over a tool like that. Can you explain to the Pro Church Nation and everyone listening exactly how our communication works between you and me?
Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, like I said before, communication is number one in any kind of project. You have to have that collaborate atmosphere going on. And so, we’ve kind of come up with a really good plan to help communication move forward every single day. So, typically what we do is we have a daily stand up with Brady and the Pro Church Tools team, and we kind of talk about, you know, what we worked on yesterday, what we plan to work on today, or what we plan to work on that current day, and obviously if we have any kind of blockers that are preventing us from moving forward on the project, which Brady is always really good at that. I have to give him the thumbs up on that. He’s always really good with blockers. And so we hardly have any. And so, the daily stand ups just really let, you know, our clients and our teams know what’s going on, what they can expect in the coming day, and you know, it also gives them, like, an open floor to ask any kind of questions. Now, we obviously like to keep our stand ups short because we know that both teams on the table there have time-sensitive schedules, and we kind like to keep that, you know, in mind. So we have daily stand ups. We have a Slack channel, which Slack is the chat tool that we use to communicate with our clients, because we do not like the black hole of email. You know, everything gets lost in email. Email becomes super cumbersome when working with larger teams and working with design creatives, and any kind of creative type email becomes very cumbersome. And so we try to eliminate any kind of email communication that we might have. And then we do a, you know, what we call a weekly retrospective, which we kind of just talk about how the project is going on a whole and it’s sort of not necessarily like a finger pointing thing, but it’s a way for everyone to get on the same page of things. Like, if something isn’t going right in the project, we need to, you know, identify and rectify as soon as possible. And so, those three things are the keys to success with any kind of creative: is having that open line of communication. And not only with creative, but if you have open communication through any, through all aspects of your life, whether it’s personal or business, you’re gonna see success. And we kind of just really, you know, take that a step further. We’re kind of obsessed with good communication. And it’s proven to be a good success tool for us, and it always will be.
You know, when I — I’m the type of client, Corey — and I’m sure you know this, but this is for everyone listening — that I’m the type of client that can be a little bit difficult sometimes because I know just enough about design in particular to be dangerous, but not enough to really know what goes into especially designing a complete interface from scratch. And the fact that we have this communication workflow that’s been so, so effective has, I think, done a great job of eliminating my own uncertainty, and my own concern, and my own (perhaps) natural tendency to micromanage. And so, like Corey said, every single day, you know, at 11:30 am is our time, eastern, we jump on this stand up and we’ve got, you know, 10 minutes to talk through, “Here’s what we did yesterday. Here’s what we’re doing today.” And that way I always know exactly know what the plan is for this day. And then we have also Trello boards, where we have all of these different columns, “Here’s what we’re doing right now and progress, here’s what is under review, here’s what Brady needs to look at, here’s what’s been approved, here’s what needs changes.” So we always know, like, on a big picture, exactly where we’re headed and where we are currently. And then we have this Slack channel for communication throughout the day if necessary. So, yesterday Corey had updated some of the new Nucleus stuff that we’re working on. He posts it in the Slack channel, and I start commenting on them, and we go back and forth, and, you know, this type of communication has been so key to the success of a larger scale product. Can we talk a little bit about of some of the conflict that we’ve had, Corey? I’m sure people would love to hear about that, because this is, I think, probably — I have been thrilled to work with Mossio. The work that they do is tremendous. They’re great people to have out with, too, which is always great. You know, you’re working with people that you like. But there have been times that, the things that I’m most impressed with was their ability and willingness to be transparent when I was like, “Okay, this is what I don’t like. Here are my concerns.” Like, not with just a specific design, you know, little, small thing. But for the future of our working relationship going forward.” I remember distinctly, I was on this one call, I was driving on this specific highway in Canada, and that’s why I remember it. It wasn’t just like me in the office, like I was driving. And I had to call Corey, even though I was driving to the airport to drop someone off or something, and I was like, “Corey, we need to talk, cause I just don’t understand what’s happening, and I’m worried, and you know, like, not just for this project, but for the future, and, you know, we need you as a company, but feel like maybe, you know, the timelines keep getting changed.” Do you remember that call? I know there have been a couple like this.
You might not have been driving on a highway like me, but you remember that one?
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
From your perspective, what was happening?
Well, at first when you first had messaged me, I was like, “Oh, man. I hope that” — cuz I’d known that stuff had been a little bit rocky there, and that we had kind of ramped up some things, so my initial thought was like, “Oh, man. This guy is such a really good client. Like their team is just really good stuff. They’re really doing really cool things and we really want to work with them, and so hopefully I can get anything back on track.” You know, I was just nervous to put it lightly, I was just very nervous.
And we had, like, I think 2, 3 — maybe 3 — conversations like this we’ve had over the course of our, so far, close to a year — 9 months or so — of working together. And they have been so, so important to, like, the future of our working relationship, but then also, both the PVA and Nucleus projects. And so, if anything I can take away from that is that, when you’re working on a creative project, don’t let anything simmer below the surface, if possible. And the great thing about that first conversation that we had, Corey, is that it led and made possible the second conversation, which made possible the third conversation. And now, I think our working and professional relationship and creative back and forth is better than it ever has been, and that was only made possible because I was able to get out what I was really feeling, and I didn’t feel the need to hide it. And to be honest, this is what I was actually thinking, and I’ve shared this with you. I was like, look: Mossio works with these huge companies, you know, multi-national, billion dollar, massive companies — and they work with Pro Church Tools. I don’t know if I actually have the caché to explain, you know, to explore my displeasure with some of the work or with some of the timelines, or you know, some of the communication that’s been happening. Like, they don’t have to keep me. They — I need them more than they need me. Like, if they drop me, they can just fill me in with somebody else that, you know, can pay them more, or is not as bothersome. If I lose them, who builds Nucleus? I can’t! And that was a really interesting dynamic for me because, as someone who has never really worked a real job, and who has created a business from scratch that allows me to make my own time, work when I want, make, you know, money that I never thought possible — I am autonomous in almost every way, and this was a really weird feeling because, it was the first time I felt like I really need this to work, because if it doesn’t, I don’t know what else to do, and I’m not really in control here. And that was really definitely, like, a scared feeling. But luckily Corey was very kind and very helpful working through that.
Certainly, man. And you know, with Mossio — with any kind of creative type — it should never be about the type of, or how large, the client is you’re working with, or what they’re national reputation is, or anything like that. I mean, some of our biggest and brightest companies are, you know, teams that are only 2-3 people. And they’re making world/game-changing products that are gonna change how society works or how the world functions. And as long as, you know — being a creative, you just really have to be passionate about one thing, and that’s making really, really good products, or making really good designs, or making really good brands, or making really good interfaces, or just making really good design. And ultimately, if you’re passionate about that, if you have that passion just to see your creativity come to life, then nothing else matters. It’s not about the client, it’s not about the name, it’s not about the recognition. It’s more so about how good it feels to see your work being used by people, being seen by people, and being interacted with by people. And so, when we got that call from you, the very first time, it was a nerve-racking call, because we never like to disappoint. I don’t like to disappoint, our team doesn’t like to disappoint. And it was more of a — I wanna make sure that we’re doing everyone in our power to make this team happy. They’re doing really cool things with the digital world. They have really good ideas, and that’s people we wanna work with. And so, that was my thought process on the whole call, and I’m 100% glad that we have open communication. And I recommend that any kind of creative team, or any kind of team in general, to have that open line of communication. And like Brady said, “Never let anything simmer below the surface, because if there’s ever something that you’re not happy with — and it can be in the creative world or not — if there’s ever something that you’re not happy with — especially in the creative world — you know, bring that to the attention of your team, and work out a plan to rectify that situation so that, at the end of the day, you can be happy with what you’re building, you can be happy with what your company is building, and you can be happy with the overall product that you’re releasing in the world.
I wanted to ask you about — let’s transition the conversation a little bit — and talk about the tools that you guys use and that we use to actually execute on this creative project. So we’ve talked about Dribble, we’ve talked about Slack, Trello. One thing that I was surprised at when we first started working together was that you guys don’t really use Photoshop as much as I thought. In fact, at least all the work that I’ve received and seen, has happened inside of a program called Sketch. Can you talk about the difference between Sketch and Photoshop, or why you prefer and choose Sketch over Photoshop?
Yeah, so Sketch is a little tiny application that actually got a lot of recognition back in 2013. It was a brand new prototyping tool. I know Adobe had just killed off Adobe Fireworks. Nobody really used Adobe Fireworks. Nobody really used that because that was when Photoshop was really popular, and Photoshop had all these really cool features. That was also back when gradients were more in style with buttons and things like that and you had to actually manipulate a lot of designs to make them look really, really good. So you needed the power that Photoshop had. Unfortunately Photoshop was a really difficult piece of software to use. Still to this day, it’s extremely difficult. And I’m under the impression that Photoshop was made for photos, and screen printing, design software tools like Fireworks, and Sketch, and InDesign, and stuff like that — those are made for actually like doing screen prototypes, where you would design, you know, web applications, websites, or brands, or anything like that. That’s typically what you would use there. So when Sketch came out, everybody just loved it because it was just so much easier than Photoshop. You didn’t have to have a whole bunch of layers selected to do anything with them. It was just a much easier tool to wrap your head around. And so that’s also when you started noticing a big, big, big increase of designers that kind of came into the space because they saw this really easy to use tool, and everybody just started using it, and it’s actually really easy to sharpen your skillset in such a tool that is so, you know, easy to use. And so Sketch is just a preferred design tool now over Photoshop. I would probably say, you know, 80% designers that I know use Sketch over Photoshop. But, you know, there are some cases where Photoshop is a little more robust, and, you know, there is use some cases for it, but ultimately, most of the design world is now using Sketch.
Can we talk about some other tools that you use. I know one tool that we use almost every week is Invision. What’s Invision and why do we use that?
Yeah, so great question. So Invision is a prototyping tool that allows us to — allows designers and creatives — to upload their work and have clients or their team comment in line to the prototype that they’re designing. So let’s say you’re designing a homepage or something similar. You can upload this and invite your collaboration team to the Invision project that you created, and your team can comment in line. So if they don’t like — if they wanna say something about the navigation or something like that — they can click anywhere on the prototype to leave comments. It’s a really good way also to eliminate email because in the older days when before Invision was around, a designer would take a screen shot or something, send it through an email to a client of theirs or a customer of theirs, and they would get feedback through an email pipeline. But since Invision kind of came around, you have Slack and Invision — those two things kind of work together as they do on the Nucleus project that we’re working on — you kind of eliminate that. So it makes getting feedback on designs a lot faster, it makes getting to the finish line a lot quicker because you have an engaging team that will leave feedback and will leave comments on designs so you can do a turnaround much quicker than you would without it.
Okay, so we’ve talked about Slack, Trello, Sketch, Invision — are there any other kind of design tools that people are gonna be itching to hear about that I’ve forgotten that you guys are using behind the scenes on a weekly or on a daily basis?
Yeah, so behind the scenes stuff: there’s a prototyping tool called Balsamic that we typically like to use. And Balsamic is a straight wire frame tool set. It’s basically like a blueprint builder for a house. So, let’s say you wanna get out really fast, quick iterations — Balsamic is the tool to do that. It’s basically a drag-and-drop editor to where you can say, “Well I wanna have a rectangle here, I wanna have a button here, I wanna have links here.” It’s basically a drag-and-drop builder so you can build out prototypes, so you can see how something would be laid out. You can see how a web app would be laid out, or a website would be laid out, or something similar. And it’s just an easy, very fast way to build layouts and get a really good solid direction on where you need to go for your prototypes.
Let’s close this thing out a little bit with some Nucleus talk, Corey. We launched Nucleus April 25th, 2017. We were open for a week, and we have more than 1,000 charter churches join us. Kind of like a paid beta. And what happened was that after that, we closed down registration because we wanted to begin working on the next and more full robust version of Nucleus. When we launched Nucleus, it was in the state of what we like to call, MVP: Minimum Viable Product, meaning, you know, another way of saying it that we’ve been using is, “Basic and Beautiful,” meaning the aesthetics were great, but the feature set wasn’t entirely robust. So what we said was, “Okay, churches. We’re gonna give you a 50% lifetime discount if you jump on this new church website building platform. We’ll give you that discount and just know that the feature set isn’t completely robust right now, but we’re gonna spend the summer creating that next version of Nucleus.” We’re doing that right now, and we’re wrapping up all of the design for the new front facing, the new editor, the new back end. We’re wrapping that all up next week. We just got a couple more things to do on that. Can you talk about where you see the future of Nucleus of going, Corey, for someone who’s been the design lead from beginning to know and going forward?
Yeah, absolutely. So first and foremost, the Nucleus platform is shaping up to be such a robust platform. The ideas that you have, Brady, are just amazing, and just kind of implementing those into the design and into the user workflow is something that I’m really glad that I’m a part of, because watching that application grow from an MVP to something that a lot of users are gonna use and a lot of good is gonna come from that application is just so exciting. I see features that are coming into the application and I see new developments rising out of the features that we’ve built and out of the designs that we have completed, and I just think that the application is gonna be so much more powerful than it already is, and we’re just constantly building onto it. I know that you, Brady, have a bunch of really cool ideas that we’re gonna be implementing super quick, actually. I know that we just have a lot of really cool feature sets that are coming out for the application, and so it’s really cool to be a part of that for sure.
It’s been a fun experience and a terrifying experience launching software because we worked for, I guess, 8 months on this MVP, on this first version of Nucleus, from ideation, something that only existed in my own mind, to actually published and ready for people to sign up for. And then you get in with it, and you’ve got everyone saying, “Can it do this? Can it do this? Well, when will it be able to do this?” And you’re like, “I don’t know. I thought you’d like it the way it is!” And then you’re like, “Oh, okay. Wow. Once you’re have a bunch of users” — and this was what’s so great about having Pro Church Nation behind us, because we were able to launch this software platform with more than 1,000 users in a week, which is, you know, pretty unheard of, especially with a company entering software for the very first time. And so, you know, we have all this great feedback, and we’re like, “Okay, great. Now we understand what this platform truly needs to be.” You know, we got it 80% of the way there, but that final 20% is what’s gonna take it from good to great. And that’s what we’re working over the summer. And then come later in 2017, we’re gonna be able to launch Nucleus. www.nucleus.church to get on the launch list to hear that first. We’ll be able to launch Nucleus for real, as like, “Okay, no more of this ‘open for registration and closed.” Like it’s open for real, it’s open for good. And we’re gonna be continued to iterate on it, but the full version is basically here at that point. But software takes a long time. I’m used to working inside of WordPress, and I install— for instance, this morning I was working on uploading transcripts for some of our podcasts, and I was like, “Oh, great. I’ll just download this plugin, implement it, get the settings up, and it’s up!” And now, when you’re working with ruby on rails, when you’re working on a software platform, things seem to go a little bit slower than that, don’t they, Corey?
Yeah, it definitely takes a long time. And especially it takes a long time when you wanna do it right. There’s a lot of applications out there that, you know, that obviously you can tell by the user experience and the way that the application was built that, you know, it was kind of just pieced together and stuff like that. But it’s funny that you mention WordPress, because they’ve built that software to make what you did earlier today super simple, right? So, even though that sounds really simple, the software engineer who built that probably took a very long time to make that easy for you. And so, that’s kind of the tradeoff there is that, you know, I know that the Pro Church Tools team is making software to make the lives of users easier and making communication much better and things like that. And so, yeah, software takes a long time, man. Especially good, built software, quality software that, you know, your users are gonna know that it’s quality as soon as they get in, like they know that it’s good quality. And, yeah, it takes a long time.
And as a church leader myself, someone who’s been on staff at church in the past, like, I’ve worked firsthand with software that was incredibly frustrating and disappointing and I’ve seen so many of others — friends of mine, colleagues of mine, peers of mine, acquaintances — have the same thing, and we want Nucleus to be absolutely tremendous and a joy to use and incredibly impactful for your church. With all that being said, Corey, I think that we’re gonna wrap this up. Where can people get in touch with you, hear more from you, see what’s up in the world of Mossio and all the great stuff you’re doing?
Yeah, so we’re on social media at mossio.co. You can find us on the web at mossio.co as well. So anytime that you guys wanna think up and hear all the cool things that Mossio is doing, Mossio is building, especially with clients like Brady and the Pro Church Tools Team, check us out on social media.
I will also recommend the Mossio dribble page. If you wanna just be really happy and just make all of your design dreams come true, just go to their dribble page and we’ll put that in the show at prochurchtools.com/168, and you can just see all of their amazing designs, all the clients they’re working for because I’ve done this before — I’ve just — I said this to the team one time: “Yeah, I went over to your dribble page, and I was just like, ‘I want all of this. I want all of these sites to be mind, because they’re all — they make me all so happy just looking at them!’” Thanks so much, Corey, for coming by and sharing so much of the behind the scenes between you and I, and the working relationship. I know that it’s gonna be helpful for so many.
Yeah, absolutely, man. Thanks again for having me so much. It’s been an honour being a part of this podcast with you.
Alrighty. There you have it: my interview with Corey Haggard, the lead designer of Nucleus, and the owner of the agency, Mossio. We talked about how to succeed when you’re young and self-taught, the curse of the creative — you know, why we always hate our old work — my nervous call to Corey proposing the Nucleus project and asking, “Hey, is this type of thing even possible?” How to bring to life a creative idea that you didn’t dream up, like when your pastor comes to you and says, “Make this sermon series artwork,” and you’re like, “Okay, it’s not my idea. I’m not super excited about it, but I still gotta do it.” We talked about that process. A proven communication workflow for a creative project, using the way we discuss and talk about Nucleus on a weekly basis as the prototype, managing conflict on creative projects, the best design software, and finally the future of Nucleus from our lead designer’s perspective. Lots of great stuff in this session of the podcast. Big ups to Corey for coming on the show and sharing all that behind the scenes stuff, especially the personal, professional relationship stuff, the conflict that we had, the back and forth, the concerns, the vulnerability. Hopefully that was helpful to you. With all that being said, it’s time for our review of the week. This one comes from MichaelHamilton.co from the USA. “5 stars! Pure audio file perfection! I discovered this podcast when looking for advice on lighting setups for my pastor’s videos. The information snowballed, just kept rolling from there, with nugget after nugget of practical no-nonsense tips and tricks to help us achieve our church communication goals. We’re still aways out, but thanks to Brady’s content, we’re excited about our progress. Thanks so much.” Well thank you, MichaelHamilton.co for leaving that review. Inside of Apple podcasts, it means the world to me and the Pro Church Tools team. We’d love it if you left a review for the show. Just go to prochurchpodcast.com. It’ll redirect you to our page within Apple podcasts, and you can leave a review for this show. That review? Well, it’ll be sent directly to me through email the next Sunday, and I’ll read it, and who knows — I might just read it on a future episode, future session, of the Pro Church Podcast. We publish a new session — a new interview session — every single Tuesday. We publish a new coaching session every Thursday, and our new episode of Ask Brady, which is our question and answer show, every single Saturday. So lots of great stuff coming your way every single week of the Pro Church Podcast. We’ve got three new sessions every single week: an interview, a question and answer show, and a coaching call, real time, with a church. So hopefully you can find something valuable. Really, I think it’s all gold. Of course I do, it’s my podcast. Hopefully you can find something valuable in that trio of new sessions that launches each week. We do this interview call every single Tuesday, so we’ll be back with another interview next week. Thanks for listening! This is Brady signing off for now. We’ll talk real soon.