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notion.so Joined about 10 years ago via an invitation from Chris T. Ivan has invited Toby Schachman
Thanks for having me Maxwell.
The idea of Notion comes from history. In the early days of computing, we created interesting systems that celebrates the power of computing medium. Somehow since the early 80s, we have been building software tools that imitate paper. Notion wants to challenge that.
People usually start with one use-case, and then discover the power of combining multiple in one tool.
There's a large portion of people use Notion as personal Evernote replacement, which surprised us since it's not something we advertise on the marketing page. All welcome though ;-)
Indeed. Custom domain is on the upcoming roadmap https://www.notion.so/What-s-New-157765353f2c4705bd45474e5ba8b46c
Slack is one of our very top priorities. It has a monopoly on the internal communication/notification space. We don't want to reinvent the user habits there.
To be honest we don't have a methodology. It's largely just learning via making – listening to what people want, and fitting the things we want around it.
The current Notion is actually 2+ years in the making. Last year this time the beta version fall apart (poor focus and implementation). We moved to Kyoto for a bit and built the whole thing from scratch.
Re: Inkling & Habitat. I went to Inkling as my first job out of school. It taught me how to work with others, and bought me time to study the history of the domain – it's always good to make mistakes on other people's money ;-) (Inkling's founder is also Notion's first investor.)
Re: FS. It has been invaluable especially for customer support (no more sending screenshots back and forth). It's a very powerful tool, we need to be really careful not to abuse it and invade the privacy of our users.
We are a small team (< 4). So we don't separate out product from visual design. Visual-wise is mostly me.
Our guiding light has always being history. To be honest nothing is new in Notion. We copied everything from earlier systems.
Oh big question. More bundling, more polishing.
We love the website too. Digital visual design always feels a bit too segregated as a young discipline for me. There's a lot of good inspirations from the past (e.g. print ads from 60s-80s) or other disciplines (e.g. pre-modern American architecture, Japanese crafts). Too many places to steal.
Marketing is indeed interesting. We are less about forcing new workflows, but more about bundling the existing ones. It's a lot more understandable that way. And who doesn't likes all-in-one, as long as the "one" has good quality on its own.
Notion is all I use. It has replaced iA Writer (drafting & thinking), Google Docs (collaboration), and Evernote (collecting). The entire team is running on Notion + Slack, nothing else. The separation of tools is largely a historical legacy from the rigid physical world. The computing medium is dynamic and elastic.
Yes. It might take sometime but a lot of people are asking for it.
It's just a different way to arrange your tasks. It doesn't have to be a different tool ;-)
I don't have a definite answer on how to make Notion more Slack-like. Our stance is that quick, communication-heavy collaboration requires very different channels and habits from knowledge-building collaboration. Slack has built great pipes on the former, and Notion is good at the latter, so we want to leverage Slack as much as possible. The pie is large.
We'll definitely beef up tasks. Once you break free from paper metaphors, the possibility is amusedly endless. Right now calling Notion a unified workspace for "docs, wikis, and tasks" is a bit false advertising. We should replace "tasks" with "checklists".
Thanks for all the feedback and patience. We'll get there :-)
Thank you for the post Owen.
Ivan from Notion here.
Want an early access to Notion for Mac? Message us in the app and and mention Designer News – we'll set you up : )
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Hey cofounder of Notion here (notion.so). You can think Notion as a Microsoft Office powered by Legos (and actually a programming language behind the scene). We are based in San Francisco.
Here's a bit more about us:
The story behind Notion
Some more context in our Product Hunt launch post
Email me directly if you are interested (ivan at makenotion.com). The product is growing fast. We desperately need people with good eyes who can build things