Featuring: Elephant Bites + David Elgena

A few weeks ago, my friend told me about this awesome to-do list app, Elephant Bites. It combines great design, productivity, and visual gratification. I love any and all new apps, especially ones that are well designed and organized. I contacted the designer + developer, David Elgena, to pick his brain about the inspiration behind Elephant Bites, as well as his design process.
Elephant Bites

1. What was the inspiration behind this app?
I guess the main inspiration behind the app would be the Creighton Abrams quote “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” It’s something my parents would always repeat when something felt too overwhelming to accomplish. The problem though, was that we’d all just be saying out loud like some kind of incantation, hoping it would just dissolve the task. But that never lasted. Thus, ElephantBites was born. An action-biased tool that walks you through the process and does it in a fun and memorable way. I truly believe anything is possible if you break it down into small enough ‘bites’.
2. What role did design play in the app creation?
For this app I came up with the idea, sketched it out and then began designing the user interface. Once I was happy with the idea and function of it, I began contacting illustrators who’s work I loved and felt would really add value to the experience. After getting in touch with Dan Matutina (the illustrator responsible for those great introduction illustrations and starting elephants) and sharing the vision of the app and a little bit of direction, the app started to really come together. Then from there, I began coordinating with my developer to start coding the app up. About half way through…I realized it could really benefit from some more beautiful art. Then after some more coordination I worked with a few more illustrators to add their ‘interpretations’ of the elephants in (which are available as In App Purchases).

Elephant Bites

3. What inspired you to curate all the elephant drawings?
Most of my apps are inspired almost entirely out of one frustration. That frustration being the lack of ’emotion’ in apps. Its frustrating to think that we carry around super computers in our pockets, and the prevailing solution to the paper checklist right now is…a digital check list. I think the use of elephant drawings really brings character and delight to the user. Hopefully taking more advantage of the $600 device it sits on. The simpler answer would be, that they also help visually reinforce the metaphor.
4. Where are you from and do you have a design background? What do you do full time?
I’m currently in Nashville, TN …but, I just moved here from Miami, FL about a year ago. Before that, Pennsylvania. I move a lot so that question never gets a simple answer, haha. I do have a background in design and art. I studied both Graphic Design and Studio Arts in college, and I have 99.9% of a Masters in Visual arts (long story). But oddly enough, a lot of my User Interface design is heavily influenced by my experience oil painting. I’ll avoid a rant here…but in an industry where we kind of downplay formal education…there’s a lot to be learned from the basic fundamentals of design, color, etc. that a lot of new designers I feel are missing. Full time, I’m a mobile product designer at Lonely Planet!5. What are some of the funniest or craziest accomplishments you’ve seen people use your app for?
The funniest…probably visiting the parents on vacation right after I launched it and seeing them pull out their phones to show me what elephants they had ‘eaten’. Craziest was probably when my developer told me during development, that he was using the app to help keep him on task during development, haha. That was like ElephantBites inception.
Elephant Bites
6. What is your most favorite thing you’ve accomplished with Elephant Bites?
So this is going to seem insignificant, haha, but my favorite thing has actually been using it as a shopping list! I love the satisfaction of walking through the grocery store and checking off items and seeing the little graph fill up. I guess it’s so satisfying because I can complete it all in one day.
Elephant Bites
7. Any more apps being designed by you in the future (other than your weather app)?
Yes. I’m actually working on a pretty significant redesign of the Weather Dial…coming out hopefully for its 2 year birthday in June. Besides that I have a plan to create an entire suite of apps that are really design focused. Basically solutions to everyday apps that I would like on my phone. Those will be set in the same style as the Weather Dial redesign…so I’m pretty excited about it!
Elephant Bites
[All photos courtesy of David Elgena]

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