On Sunsetting Projects

There’s no easy way to “sunset” digital projects just as there’s no easy way to remove an arm or a leg from your body.

This might sound extreme but you may also empathize with the emotional challenge of closing down something that you’ve worked so hard to give birth to. There’s just simply no “right” way to do it.

3 brothers…

When I released Desk v3 I also, at the exact same time, decided to close down 3 different versions of Desk (one, of course, which would be replaced).

Desk MD was intended for an audience that absolutely loved Markdown. NT was meant for notetakers who weren’t interested in publishing to the web. I had originally released all 3 versions my hope was to provide a simplified purchase path for different customer personas.

My intent was good but my execution was poor. Actually, I take that back. Rather, my execution was fine but my customer research was dramatically poor. I should have talked to more customers, I should have considered the complexity of the diversification.

This is one of the downsides of building indie projects – you’re an island and the only thoughts that you have become the canonical ones. Sometimes they are really wrong.

The end result of the entire 2.0 series was a dramatic fall from grace. The product offering confused buyers and sales plummeted. This didn’t entirely bother me and in a way I felt like I deserved it, but, I definitely didn’t like how many emails I had to respond to from confused customers. Those were the worst emails to get because they were entirely self-inflicted.

Yet, despite the pain you’d think that I’d be happy to relieve myself of it. The exact opposite emotion crops up. You see, even if the very thing you create ends up bringing you pain that doesn’t fundamentally change the fact that it is still your creation.

This is the artists’ unique and special burden. It is our beautiful cross to bear. And our continued responsibility is to just keep creating, even when it hurts.