George Washington’s axe

As the question goes, if George Washington’s axe had both its head and handle replaced, is it still considered George Washington’s axe?

The original codebase and infrastructure of DoneDone when we launched in 2009 looks nothing like it does today. The code’s been re-written. Databases have migrated (twice). Three major UX redesigns. Our billing solution, CDN, servers? Swapped. Switched. Migrated. Most everything about the product has changed.

DoneDone is the digital equivalent of George Washington’s axe.

But, when I look at DoneDone the product, its identity still remains the same. The things I’m most proud of about the product are the ideas (and usually constraints) that have remained since the very beginning.

Even though more than a handful of customers have asked for this flexibility, we’ve never changed the fact that you can only assign one fixer and one tester to an issue. It was one of the core beliefs I started developing DoneDone with — as soon as you open up responsibility to more than one person, the likelihood of any one person owning that responsibility goes down drastically. This is the classic bystander effect.

If you don’t delegate an issue to someone, often no one’s willing to take charge. Photo courtesy RollingAlpha.

Over time, we bent a little by letting you cc other members of your team on an issue so they get notifications. But, if you look at any given issue at any given time, there is only one person responsible for fixing it and one person responsible for testing it.

We commonly recommend workarounds around a core idea, if you must. For instance, if you really want multiple testers, then create a user with an email address that forwards to a group of people (like The hack is simple enough if you really need the flexibility. It’s also annoying enough if you really don’t. I’m most proud of the fact that we don’t budge on the ideas that started this whole thing in the first place.

The same goes for our opinionated status workflow. You can’t add new statuses to the workflow. You can’t rename the ones we have in place. We want to attract the customers that work the way we work.

Our prescribed issue workflow has largely remained unchanged in eight years

The drawback is you will lose some customers. But, though it’s much harder to measure, I think you end up keeping as many because of the things you don’t change.

And besides, you’re also keeping the right customers.

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