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Ditto's 2020 — a Year in Review

Jess and Jo
January 19, 2021

Happy 2021 everyone! No one needs reminding that 2020 was a crazy year for many, many reasons, but we wanted to look back on the past year building Ditto.

January — YC begins! 🍊

At the start of 2020, we hit the ground running as a part of YCombinator's W20 Batch! Although we had worked on Ditto for a few months prior to 2020, conducting user research and building prototypes, we were so excited to be surrounded by the energy and knowledge of the YC community and ship quickly.

We came into the batch with the conviction that copy was the most under-leveraged aspect of building product and eager to build a way for teams to manage their copy from design to production.

Photograph of portion of our whiteboard with tallies and names of our first 10 users
From the very beginning, we kept track of new users on a whiteboard. To this day, we still haven't erased the tallies and names of our first 10 users. :)

In January, we also got our Figma plugin approved! Our plugin paired with the web-app our users were already using, and we were looking forward to working more seamlessly in designers' workflows.

Screenshot of Slack conversation with Josh at Figma as he approved our plugin
A message from Josh at Figma as he inspected the plugin for approval!

February — building and beta-testing 👷‍♀️

Even as we were quietly still in private beta, we were surprised to get users that somehow found us organically (through Figma, design communities, YC alumni, and UX writing Facebook groups)! We learned a ton from these initial users, and we're glad they saw the potential in our nascent tool.

We spent a ton of February talking to users and building. However, in the outside world, time seemed to slow as information of a novel coronavirus rapidly took shape.

March — a launch and a lockdown 🤯

March was crazy — the U.S. began to lock down, the SF Bay Area issued its stay-at-home order, and YC moved its famed Demo Day ahead by a week and online. In the midst of the craziness, we launched on Product Hunt.

Screenshot of Ditto's Product Hunt launch page

It was so exciting to hear from so many product-focused people on how much Ditto could help their own team's copy workflows.

April — hello to all the new faces! 👋

In April, our plugin became a featured Figma plugin! Especially having taken part in the early days of Figma's plugins community, we were stoked to see Ditto next to plugins that we used every day in our design workflow.

Screenshot of us on Figma's Featured Plugins page
That's us in the top right!

In April, we also hit our first 1000 plugin installs and started up our Twitter!

Screenshot of install count for our Figma Plugin as 1k
An exciting day as we refreshed our plugin page to watch the count cross 1,000

May — iterate and ship 🛠

As we did our best to rapidly onboard all of the new users from our growing waiting list, we were also grateful to have the thoughtful feedback of users to iterate quickly upon. 🥰A couple of things we shipped in May include:

  • Ability to export to CSV and JSON
  • Ditto workspace link sharing
  • Granular edit diffs

We say it often, but we're always thankful to have the support and feedback of so many users of Ditto, even from our earliest days. Being user-driven really helps us understand all of the different ways teams currently handle copy — and the ways that Ditto can help.

As we quickly shipped new features and improvements, and we decided to start documenting feature improvements and releases on a bi-weekly basis! Not only was it exciting to see Ditto grow, it kept us accountable to continuing to grow and improve.

June — text as a system 🌐

Almost every aspect of product today exists in and is thought of as a system: design systems, UI patterns, React components, variables, constants, and inheritance in engineering — we could go on. At Ditto, we think text should also be thought of (and implemented!) as a system.

In June, we launched Components in Ditto! Components were our first step of many in helping teams maintain consistent and effective copy and treat text as an essential part of their UX— even across different projects.

Tweet from Jonathon Colman on Ditto Components: "This has the makings of an in-browser content design system. If you're not already using @dittowords, what are you waiting for?"

Since then, we've been ecstatic to see Components be used by so many teams in Ditto, whether to keep track of consistent legal copy, link CTAs, or templatize text in design systems.

We were also stoked to share what we've learned about copy workflows at the June 2020 UX Writer Conference!

July — words of our own 💬

In July, we launched our blog! We wanted to share more of the thoughts and processes behind what we're building here at Ditto, and to shift industry norms towards valuing the words in their products.

This coming year, we’re looking forward to using our blog to not only talk more about what we're building, but also to shine a light on the community we're a part of — whether through case studies with teams that have integrated Ditto into their workflow, perspectives from industry leaders, or guest posts from users!

August — a different kind of "feature" 🎙

In August, we were guests on our first podcast! We sat down with Patrick Stafford of Writers of Silicon Valley to talk about why we founded Ditto, where we want to take it, and what we’ve learned from talking to our customers.

Cover photo of our Writers of Silicon Valley podcast episode

We were also featured in a review by the inimitable Femke! As huge fans of her advocacy for designers and education, we were super surprised and honored to be featured on her channel.

Tweet from Femke featuring her video of Ditto: "New on the channel! Manage your UX writing with @dittowords, a new tool for teams to collaborate on content in @figmadesign!"

September — copy for developers 💻

We've known from the start that copy is touched by so many people throughout the product development process (in fact, one of our internal slogans is "copy is end-to-end"!), and we really wanted to get our dev integration right.

In September, we started beta testing our API, a way for developers to fetch the up-to-date product copy directly into their working directories. After months of testing, we’re so excited to launch our API/CLI very soon ( 😉) to save developers’ time and streamline teams' development workflows.

As we saw teams transition their copy docs over to Ditto, we also revamped our web-app with Blocks, a way to bring hierarchy and organization into the text being collaborated on in Ditto and Figma mockups.

October — learning and sponsoring 🤝

In October, we co-sponsored Button, a 3-day conference about design, UX writing, and product content strategy. Not only did we learn so much from industry leaders, we were also pumped to see users we've come in contact with in attendance at the conference! 🥰

List of Button Conference Sponsors

We're so glad we got to give back to the community that's supported us from the very beginning, and we came away from Button inspired with lots of ideas on how to continue improving Ditto.

November — growing the team 🛫

Handling all of the feature requests and support on our small team, we'd known for months that it was crucial for us to grow the team. On Thanksgiving Day, Xav signed his offer letter, officially becoming the 3rd member of the team and our first employee! He joins us from Segment (a fellow YC company!), where he worked on the Growth Team.

Screenshot of Xavier joining our Slack channel
Exciting day in the Ditto Slack workspace

December — gratitude and looking forward 🎁

We're ended the year with over 2,000 teams on Ditto — and we know we're just getting started. Over the holiday season, we wanted to express thanks to some of our first paying customers, sending out holiday cards to users in countries across three continents! 💌

Image of Ditto holiday cards being mailed out
3 forever stamps to send mail internationally!

Reflecting on the past 12 months, one thing stands out — community. Whether it's the community of Ditto users around the world, design and content communities, or the community of founders and builders we met during YC, we're incredibly thankful for all of the people we got to meet and learn from.

We can't wait to see what 2021 holds. Thanks to all that have stuck with us in 2020, and stay tuned for what's to come!

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