Interview Part 2: Nathan Kontny’s Draft Rewrites Wordprocessing

Greg Bates, July 2nd, 2013

In this second part of a three part interview, Nathan Kontny, founder of Draft, discusses what’s behind taking on the giants–Apple, Microsoft, Google in their strong suit: word-processing. Part one covered what got him started and why he created an API.

PW – A lot of your tools are immediately obvious and a godsend. I think of the to do list that can be embedded right in the document. It’s so utterly obvious, and yet new. And it’s convenient: I’m going to use right now. Your features list is growing fast. What are your top two favorites? What do users rave about the most?

Nathan Kontny – Thank you very, very much. That’s really nice to hear that. The credit for the to do list concept really has to go to Github and Matt Todd. I saw them make this for developers, and I thought it would be a neat addition to Draft that writers could use. I really wanted to spread what they introduced me to.

My personal favorite Draft feature is the Chrome extension. I’ve been trying hard to follow this principle of “tasks to be done design”. I picked it up from a great book Something Really New.

1) Study a task someone needs to accomplish.

2) Break that task into a series of steps.

3) Figure out what steps can be eliminiated.

It sounds so simple, but we as product designers don’t do it enough. When we do, really neat things happen.

Like the OXO Measuring Cup.

Someone figured that measuring cup out by studying tasks people have in the kitchen: getting water for baking or measuring oil for a recipe. And then they saw the steps that people took to actually measure out the right amount. One of those steps is to raise the cup up to your eyes, or squat down to see the line. And they figured out a way to remove that single step. And now, that measuring cup is famous. It’s a brilliant product I constantly use in my kitchen. All it did was eliminate one step in the process of cooking.

When I started doing this with Draft, things really began to take off. All the Chrome extension does is make the task of copying and pasting writing you have into a text box on the web easier. You might want to write a Reddit comment or a blog post in Draft. The extension saves you some of those copy and paste keystrokes you’d make to move the text over. So simple. But just saving those few little steps results in rave reviews.

I’m hearing similar reviews for how publishing works in Draft. I wanted to save even more steps of getting your writing out to the places you need to publish to. For example, if I publish a new blog post, I can now quickly publish to Twitter, LinkedIn, and even a MailChimp newsletter with many fewer steps than if I used all those things separately.

Part 3 on what’s next for Draft and for its creator will be published tomorrow.

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