How we built DoneDone 2

How we built DoneDone 2

In our last post, Mike shared the exciting news about releasing DoneDone 2, which will be available in the coming weeks. Not only did we make a better-looking app, but we think we’ve made a more useful app in the process. Here are a few of the highlights of how we built the new DoneDone.

Feature updates or new product?

We’ve always used customer feedback as a guide for what routine updates to make to the app. But in early 2018 we decided to take a big step back — we wanted to implement a number of big changes that would make a positive impact for everyone. And these big changes merited a new product edition altogether. But, our resources were limited.

Small has its advantages.

Here’s a little “secret” about our company. We’re small. Really small. Most of the customer support and operational duties are the responsibility of one of our two founders (Mike), and most of the development and technical duties are the responsibility of another (me). We don’t have hiring sprees or any outside investors.

In order for us to build a new product, we needed to decide what was really important. We needed to create a product that can compete with companies that have a lot more resources than we do. This meant getting creative with our time and resources.

Keeping the bones. Renovating everything else.

Like gutting an old house to its frame, the bones of a new app were already there. DoneDone’s existing codebase is one that I’m intimately familiar with — something I began in 2011, and I’ve been contributing to regularly for the past eight years.

The entire codebase has only been touched by six people. It’s a codebase that’s been well taken care of, without the usual battle scars from constant employee turnover. Not many tech companies can make that claim.

So, it made the most sense for me to start with the DoneDone Classic codebase and slowly evolve, improve, and upgrade all the technical pieces over the course of the past year. Nearly 1,300 Git commits later, you would never guess that DoneDone 2’s codebase originally derived from its predecessor.

The last year of DoneDone 2 code commits.
The last year of DoneDone 2 code commits.

Simplicity is hard work.

Meanwhile, Mike has provided the vision for DoneDone 2. Simple has always been his key metric. We want to keep DoneDone simple for our users. We’ve wanted to keep the business simple for us. We believe in keeping life simple.

But, simple doesn’t mean easy…at all. There are a lot of decisions that go into making sure that simple benefits our customers. So, while you’ve already heard of some of the big new features we’ve added, we’ve also been finding ways to simplify everything else.

For instance, based on our research, not a lot of our customers use mobile, office phone, and fax number fields. In addition, folks have historically been confused about what their username is. (“Why isn’t it just my email address?”). We also weren’t happy about the number of fields you had to fill out just to signup for DoneDone Classic. The list could go on.

Keeping things as simple as is effective.
Keeping things as simple as is effective.

We’ve taken all of these little things into consideration as well. We’ve reduced or removed everything we could to make the DoneDone 2 experience faster and simpler for you.

Partnering with great talent.

Being an ultra-small business means we can’t do everything in-house. Instead, we’ve had the honor of partnering with some really talented folks to make DoneDone 2 a reality.

  • Gage Salzano has been someone we’ve known for years. So, we wanted to “engage Gage” to help us define the branding and aesthetics of DoneDone 2. Early in 2018, he helped us develop our brand new product site and style guide. It’s warm, friendly, and feels like us.
  • While Gage was helping us with our brand, we sought out a front-end partner to help us design and build the app. Serendipitously, a fellow named André Oliveira — the CEO of Pixelmatters — reached out to us. We’re accustomed to receiving a lot of “pitches”, but something felt different about this one. Mike was intrigued and decided to find out more.

We’ve now been working closely with the talented team at Pixelmatters for over a year. Together, we’ve designed an entirely fresh product. Their development team has worked with us to integrate our back-end to an all-new front-end.

They’ve also built the new front-end using Vue.js — a lightweight (and comparatively simpler than most) JavaScript framework that takes advantage of more modern browser capabilities. We’re excited for you to see the result.

Using DoneDone to build DoneDone.

The best part for us? We started using DoneDone Classic to prepare much of the launch of DoneDone 2. And since we’ve started beta testing DoneDone 2, all of our internal task tracking and customer support live in DoneDone 2 as well. We’ll be using the app extensively alongside our customers.

We can’t wait to show you DoneDone 2 in just a few short days. We think you’ll really like it!

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