Danny Halarewich talks about LemonStand, creativity, and small shop development

Limewheel Creative is an agency that creates branding, websites and web applications that are both easy on the eyes, and easy to work with. They recently released a new web store platform, LemonStand, which is now in public beta (a very stable beta at that). You can follow @Limewheel and @LemonStand on Twitter.

Danny’s design work has won several awards and accolades, and is a local inspiration for budding designers like yours truly.

Q. Congratulations on hitting beta with LemonStand, it looks great! What motivated you guys to write a store application?

The motivation behind LemonStand was mostly based on our frustration with other carts on the market. After working on several eCommerce websites, using existing carts, eCommerce frameworks and dabbling with custom developments, we quickly realized there was room to do better. We thought that if we were looking for a great eCommerce solution, a lot of others probably were too. There are simply no self-hosted shopping carts that we know of which truly allow complete flexibility with design and functionality. LemonStand is our attempt at filling that need.

Q. What are your favourite features in LemonStand?

As someone who is first and foremost a designer, my personal favorite is the CMS. Templates, partials, pages, the resource manager and the syntax highlighting code editor… it’s a joy to use them every day. I’m sure Aleksey, our Co-Founder would say the API, as the brilliant programmer that he is, this allows him to do all sorts of amazing things.

Q. LemonStand is more than just another shopping cart: it’s a full store system. What inspired you guys to build such a complete system?

Our objective has been to create a flexible system that could accomodate eCommerce sites of a wide range of complexity. So we put in what we felt were the most useful features for an online retail business. We wanted to provide an alternative to the broken systems we encountered in our careers, and to do that we had to create a robust system, while maintaining a good user experience, usability and relative simplicity for non-technical end users. Being flexible often means being robust. If we only catered to small, simple eCommerce sites then we wouldn’t really be flexible.

Q. Limewheel is a lot like 37Signals. You’re small, distributed, and lean heavily on clean and simple. Do you compare yourself to them? Do you draw inspiration from their books or applications?

We definitely draw inspiration from them! They have created some amazing things. Their philosophy to product and technical development resonates with us very well. While we have developed our own viewpoints and strategies that sometimes veer off from theirs, we often refer back to Getting Real and I hold a copy of Defensive Design for the Web close by.

Q. Limewheel has been around for a while, but this is your first product. What is it like funding development with your consulting work? How do you find the time to do both?

It can be very difficult at times, juggling two very different types of work. It can sometimes lead to a hectic schedule and long days. But sometimes you have days or weeks open from client work where you can really focus on your product. There are definitely times when work/life get unbalanced. It’s a constant battle each day. I try to avoid spending too much time thinking about doing things, and just get into doing them. I think that helps me find time to get things done.

Q. You guys consult and build product. Your designs top many of the online design sites. Where do you find your inspirations?

I often ask myself this and I don’t have a definitive answer. I find design is a very natural and untamable thing for me. While I generally look for inspiration by browsing galleries, many times I go in another direction than what I have found. I think I draw inspiration mostly from myself. That means, I draw from past experiences, associations, preferences and things like that. I supplement that with thorough research of the project in question by checking competition, similar concepts but in different markets and even architecture and print design.