Back in the days when I started using Asana heavily with various startups I was really upset about how dodgy Asana’s initial mobile app was. I found myself wanting to capture new tasks on my commute to and from the office, but the mobile app was not more than a simple web wrapper, which made it useless without internet connection. Even with internet connection, it was just a bad experience. It was the time where Asana announced their first public API when I thought to just write my own iOS app that would allow me to work offline and would work in a truly native way (I have to admit that I get really upset when I see web wrappers on any native platform like iOS or even the Mac).
I was super motivated and created AsanaApp which did exactly what I needed and it turned out that there where many more Asana users that were in the same boat with me. AsanaApp became quickly the favourite native Asana client for many users. The initial name might have played a role in the quick growth as well, but Asana was quick in jumping in to inform me that the name would confuse Asana’s customers and I would need to change the name. That’s where Hill88 was born, which had no attachment to Asana other than it is located in San Francisco. The name change resulted in a considerable drop in user downloads, even at that time where Hill88 Lite existed as free version beside the paid version Hill88 Pro.
During the first half of 2014 I started to be obsessed with features. I was listening to every single user and wanted to satisfy everyone by adding new features. However that was also the time where I lost the connection to Hill88 as well as Asana. I found Asana getting more and more bloated and I was hungry for some change.
I wanted some simplicity.
Basically the opposite of where I was going with Hill88 and what I felt that Asana was going for. It was the time where I started with Context, a completely different, new way of managing tasks.
I was again at the point where I wanted to build something for myself, something that I would enjoy using.
I started to focus on building this new app which would ignore all that restricting structure and would focus solely on tasks. It’s text based and relays heavily on tags and user mentions. It has been a long journey from my first thoughts on that project until the almost ready product. I started to use Context on all my personal projects and I still enjoy it more than any other productivity app out there. Context is currently in a closed beta and will soon be available for a public beta as well, so if you are interested, join as beta tester.
That was the time where I completely lost it for Hill88 as well as Asana.
It was also the time where I started to work with a startup that was and still is using Asana. It has been the first time that I was using Asana with a large enough team to have the requirement for Asana’s Inbox as well as notifications, which are both not supported by the current version of Hill88. During that time, Asana also released their new native app which offers inbox as well as notifications, but still feels more like a web wrapper than a native app. I remember back when Asana said “We don’t focus on mobile as our users are knowledge workers sitting at a desk” and some time later “Our biggest dedicated team is now mobile”. Wow, what a change in direction, however I just can’t see it in the product. It’s still heavily influented by web development thinking and it is does upset me.
So what’s the bright side and the point I want to make on all that?
My time out on Hill88, the time away from Asana and all the work I have done in between, has completely changed my view on product development as well as design and working with various clients and startups had me use most of the top productivity apps out there from Basecamp, over Trello, Github and now again Asana.
I have found similar issues with most of the productivity apps mentioned and it has brought back the desire to make a native solution that can work so much better. However this time around it’s not the kitchen sink solution, it’s the desire fore a solid, functional and simply beautiful solution, that I want to use.
I found my love and passion for a new Hill88.
I have been working on Hill88 v3 since November 2015 and there are only a few areas missing until the beta is ready to go out. If you haven’t yet, join as beta tester.
Looking back, I am really happy that I lost it and I am even more happy that I found it again.
It all comes down to the journey we go through, which reflects in our being as well as the work we do. I believe that this is very important, and not havening lost it, would have resulted in a different future of Hill88, one which I wouldn’t be passionate about.