I recently gave a speech about the impact of mobile on (all) commerce at a national retailer. To 450 terribly enthusiastic and mostly millennial employees celebrating a great eCommerce month. When I looked out at this horde of digital professionals — merchandisers and marketers, designers and developers, writers and editors, testers and analyzers, the list goes on — I realized that they are the operators of our digital experiences.
They are passionate about great digital experiences. But they have mostly crappy browser tools to do their job. In fact, every one of our planet's one billion websites is managed by someone using mostly crappy tools.
When I looked at at the throng of digital professionals, I suddenly realized they deserved some digital experience love, too. They deserved better digital tools. On any device. After all, they live out their working weeks in front of screens so that we, their customers, get great digital experiences. But today, the state of the art in browser design tools looks like scaffolding on a building where the result is unveiled at the end. It's anything but fun.
Weebly, supplier and hoster of 25 million content and commerce websites serving 200 million unique visitors monthly, decided to unshackle its digital professional customers from the tyrany of the browser and desktop. It built a native iPad app on iOS 8 to help them build and manage websites from anywhere at anytime. Weebly's digital professionals are now mobile. And that will lead them to be more in touch with the mobile moments of their customers, hence more able to serve them in their moments of need.
Weebly can explain to you how it works, but it apparently took a bunch of years and access to Apple's extended iOS 8 APIs. The practitioner experience seems very natural — using touchscreen controls and a touch it, see it, use it (TISIUI? (kidding)) interaction model so you immediately see changes in the picture, layout, content, font, or form. Nothing like scaffolding, this native iPad designer app looks more like an Etch-a-Sketch with a menu (see Figure 1 at the bottom).
Here's what it means to me:
- Digital professionals can join the mobile workforce. These vital contributors to the digital economy can administer a website from the sideline of a soccer game or while waiting for the bus, thus using mobile design moments to advantage.
- It’s time to declare tablets creation devices, not just consumption devices. Adobe was the first vendor I saw porting its creative tools to iPad, but now even Microsoft is committed to touch-first devices. Where's everbody else?
- Client software is making a rebound. We call them apps, and they will run on all devices, come from an app store, and be easily updated. Weebly could easily port this back to Macintoshes and Windows computers if it chose. Heavyweight client applications are dead. Long live modern client apps.
- Every digital experience delivery vendor is put on notice: practitioners’ user experience matters, too. We will be evaluating the usability of the practitioner tools for digital professionals as part of our forthcoming web content management (WCM) Forrester Wave.
Figure 1 Weebly's iPad Interface Brings Touch It, See It, Use It To Digital Experience Design