When you decide to embark on the journey of building a product, a tool, an app, you better make sure that you are a user of it. Why? Because in this competitive world, it's almost impossible to understand how to solve for something if you don't share the exact same problem.
And, it's even harder to improve on what you've built if you're not using it regularly.
We take this to our hearts when working on Doit.io, as it's actually something we build for ourselves.
We all had this feeling of frustration, too many things that need our attention, scattered all over the place.
At home, there were paper notes for everything, shopping lists, checklists of things to be fixed. Appointments to be remembered, tasks to be done, projects, and family to take care of.
At work, countless of Google docs, slides, and spreadsheets for different types of information. Trello boards for meetings and specific projects, emails, chats, file services. No one knew where to find things.
When you then combine the two of them, it's a mess.
All these tools also need maintenance to work correctly, and we often found ourselves spending more time organizing the tool itself than doing the actual work. Which can be devastating for any business or personal projects.
We tried everything we could get our hands on, tools, techniques, but nothing stuck.
The frustration was building up and eventually turned into light stress. This small nagging type of stress that don't want to go away until you feel in control again.
The solution, build something that would give us peace of mind.
The learning phase
We learned one critical thing from testing the majority of tools available, the need for making something incredibly simple.
If we were to change our own habits of using paper notes, there could not be any friction what so ever. But at the same time, it also needed to be sophisticated enough to manage a project.
The second most crucial step was to centralize what matters the most. The things you use in your everyday life, like notes, tasks, files, knowledge, and information, and add the ability to share and collaborate with colleagues, friends, and family.
This is not as easy as it may sound, and we threw away more than 90% of all the work and ideas we had in the beginning.
We quickly realized that our original setup didn't work out. The database wasn't robust enough, so we changed it. The only issue was that we changed it 5 times until we found it to support our needs. And during those times, we built a fully working prototype. Time was becoming an issue.
At this point, we could have ended the project as we felt we didn't make the progress we wanted to.
We jumped on a phone call and said to each other:
"We either put energy and focus into this, or we just stop and do something else"
A long call, but with a unified decision, let's get our shit together and "do it"!
Even though we've been working together on projects many times in the last 15 years, that phone call brought us closer together, and we have never looked back since.
Speed picked up, and we were more confident that this could be done. We also made one significant promise that would make our prioritization easy moving forward. Our focus should from now on, be 100% on the product.
The building phase
What started as a conversation in 2018 had now turned into something real, something tangible. We had a working prototype, and at that time, we were happy with the look and feel.
We soon started to iterate on all different UI experiences, questioning whether they made sense or not. Other great tools from different niches served as an inspiration to solve particular problems.
In November 2019, we launched our first site and started to collect beta users.
If someone had said it will take us 1 year to ship this product in beta, we would have laughed.
Looking back, if we had released what we had built early on, it would have been devastating, and you realize that you need this time to sort out all your ideas.
"Rome wasn't built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour."
- John Haywood
One key learning from this project so far has been not to focus all energy on the end result of having Doit.io built and ready. Instead, our focus has been on iterating in small steps, laying one brick at the time. Not only for the product but also for the site and everything else we do.
Eventually, you will have something that you can ship to your audience, get more feedback, and start the iteration process all over again.
We still have many bricks to lay, but all great things have small beginnings. The next step is to ask you for any feedback and comments, and we honestly can't wait to hear what you have to say.
The Team at Doit.io