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Duo Team Builds Products (e.g., with an Eye on the Bottom Line

Meet (the) Duo

Keith and Jana Harper are the team behind Duo. They build products for people like them: designers, developers, and creative professionals. Their first product is Well Crafted,  a simple portfolio for designers. Customers just select a layout, typography, and color scheme with an easy-to-use portfolio editor, and get a beautiful, affordable showcase to send out into the world. In addition, customers can customize their portfolio without writing a single line of HTML or CSS.

Running Lean and Moving Fast

According to Keith, "Our goal is to be really simple. We know that good design doesn't have to be complicated and difficult. It should be easy for people at all skill levels to put together a simple portfolio that showcases their best work."

They have a lot of  things going on—working on new features, expanding their user base, and they recently launched one of the first portfolio apps for the iPad.

The Tools They Use

"We're trying to work in an iterative, lean fashion. As a startup, you have to move quickly, and we wanted to have all the basic tools in place—and customer service is a very important tool."

Keith and Jana have published two great blog posts about the tools they use to accomplish their goals of simplicity and affordability. They should be required reading for frugal startups who don’t want to sacrifice quality for the right helpdesk tools:

The Tools We Use Part I

The Tools We Use Part II

Keith  shares all of the open source software, paid services, and people that helped make Well Crafted a reality under a page titled Colophon. His philosphy: It takes an (internet) village to build a product.

Good Design Is a “Must Have"

"For customer service, we quickly decided on Desk. Friends and colleagues raved about its ease of use, and ability to integrate tightly with existing sites. Desk really simplifies things for me—I wouldn't be able to keep track of everything without it. Most of our communication is still via email, and Desk sends me an automated notification when someone needs help. Desk enables support requests from Twitter and Facebook as well, which we'll undoubtedly utilize more and more. Setting Desk up is quick and easy, and the level of customization has enabled us to seamlessly fit the portal into our site."

"In the last few years, design has earned a much more prominent place in startups, especially at the executive level. I'm generalizing here, but tech startups are traditionally driven by engineering, with product design as an afterthought (see most of the PC industry). Startups simply can't afford to be one dimensional anymore. Look at a company like Nest, which recently entered the (utterly stagnant) thermostat market with an absolutely iconic, clever design. The perception of what a thermostat should be is now forever altered. The Nest design also happens to be backed by some killer technology, with an added environmental benefit of reducing energy usage. It's the total package."

Why Desk?

"Each web service that we integrate with not only has to work well, but it absolutely has to look good. Our business is focused on designers, and their expectations are high. We'll only partner with companies that make us look good and play well with others. Desk is certainly one of those companies."

Learn more about Well Crafted, and give it a try for free at

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