Fifteen Years of Keeping It Simple

In the summer of 2008, the web development business I co-founded was in the middle of our largest consulting project to date, working with a big client, and using some truly awful bug tracking software. The interface was a splattering of form elements—an assortment of configurations and features that were irrelevant to us.

At the same time, some of the simplest things seemed impossible to do.

The interface for creating new bugs in the software that led me to create our own bug tracker.

It was because of this experience that I decided to open up a new project in Visual Studio and start building our own bug tracker, full of the things that we wanted and none of the things we didn't. I knew there could be something a lot simpler in the market.

This week, DoneDone turns 15.

Building the kind of software we wanted

We launched the first version on April 15, 2009.

I'd love to show you the initial specs or Photoshop designs from 2008...but there aren't any. I wrote DoneDone by designing, building and iterating directly in code—with no formal specs and no design phase.

This is the way we’ve continued to maintain the product all these years later—with a super-small team, bootstrapped, building what we can with what we have without overcomplicating the process with project briefs, tech specs, or wireframes.

In fact, most of the features you use today were planned, discussed, and iterated over a single DoneDone ticket or by linking a few sub-tickets to a main ticket.

Michael and I discussing Workflow Jobs, released in September 2023

Keeping DoneDone relevant by focusing on simple

Continuing to keep a product like DoneDone relevant in 2024 is daunting. Very few things remain constant in tech. Frameworks, design trends, and whole products come and go. Even Google has gotten the reputation of killing off its own products over recent years.

In 2009, we were competing with issue trackers like the one I showed you above. In 2024, we're competing with Asana, Monday, Jira, and a host of other products backed with investors, much larger teams, and more resources.

What's kept us relevant is something that doesn't require extra resources or funding, but is fundamentally hard—keeping things simple. Building features that balance the straightforward with the right kind of flexibility. Making the product approachable to novices but still useful to long-term users.

Simple has been our mantra since the very beginning. And many of our customers have been using (and growing with) our product for well over a decade.

Simple is timeless

Recently, I dug into the Wayback Machine and was happy to discover our original homepage from 2009, still intact.

I remember writing the copy to look just right on the screen (we weren't worried about responsive design on mobile devices yet) and arranging the screenshots in Photoshop.

The message of the original homepage feels just as relevant today.

I still love this copy. As I read it again, it feels even more relevant today. With the incessant spotlight on AI and machine learning these days, DoneDone is still a tool that focuses on humans.

On answering simple questions.
On getting people to work better together.
On getting things from start to done.

Selling simple to everyone

In the beginning, we started pitching DoneDone to companies like ours—small web and software development shops. As we continued to build the product, we noticed that the same core philosophies we used for bug and issue tracking could be used for general task management and customer support. This wasn't a discovery we made, it was a discovery our customers made.

Companies across a wide range of industries were signing up and using DoneDone to organize, collaborate, and get work done. So, in 2018, we launched version 2, complete with customizable workflows and a full-fledged shared inbox. Eventually, we would add other features like Kanban and, most recently, a customer ticket portal.

Our current day offering is much more robust but the message is still largely the same.

Today, companies across all industries, ranging from one-person shops to teams of a few hundred, are using DoneDone. Here's a small sampling of industries that are represented amongst our customers:

  • Property managers
  • HOAs
  • Realtors
  • Ad agencies
  • Digital marketing agencies
  • Business consultants
  • Law firms
  • E-commerce shops
  • Construction & home builders
  • Food processing
  • High schools, colleges, and universities
  • Non-profits
  • Museums
  • Preservation and conservation organizations

Playing our own game

I recently read The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. In the book, he talks about "playing your own game." Every one of us has different reasons for how they save, invest, and spend money, and the trick is to figure out what your game is. What your wants and needs are. What you value. We often get too caught up in playing someone else's game.

I think the same is true for building a software business.

DoneDone is not as big as Asana or Monday, let alone a Big Tech company—it never will be. We don't have nearly the investors or funding to compete. From those metrics, I could look at it as a failure.

But I don't think that's what our small but loyal customer base would say. If anything, we're a breath of fresh air from the smog produced by larger products. The ones that get bloated and too big for themselves over time.

When you write to support, your request is going directly to our own DoneDone mailbox and one of our owners is writing directly back to you. When we release updates, we're doing them with your feedback in mind.

And based on what our customers are saying, it seems like we're playing our own game the right way.

So here's to 15 years of DoneDone. We hope our customers have enjoyed the service and, if you haven't tried it yet, maybe you'll trial it too.

More from our blog...

We're on a quest to build the best issue tracking, help desk, and project management tool for all kinds of teams.

Subscribe to news and updates and follow us on Twitter.
We will never share your email address with third parties.

Give DoneDone a try today!

No credit card needed. Just sign up for a free trial, invite your team, and start getting things done with DoneDone.