Wednesday, September 5, 2012

WalkMe: another great addition to the SaaS toolbox

What happens when barriers of entry are lowered in all dimensions? (cost, time, risk) for small software companies that intend to tackle specific business problems for the benefit of specific audiences these lowered barriers mean the ability to concentrate scarce resources on the key problem to solve, avoid distractions by challenges that are important but most of the times irrelevant to the core mission.

This is probably the oldest story in the software world, at the risk of dating myself I should say I remember the times when detecting a keystroke in a keyboard and turning on/off an specific pixel (or digit segment) in a screen was a problem we solved once and again in each application.. Operating Systems came along, Database Engines came along and all those important (but irrelevant to the core mission) challenges seemed to be taken care by someone else; there was a cost associated to it but the gain in opportunity was completely worth it. I am not the first or the best to sing the praises for the benefits that the advent of the likes of Amazon Web Services (storage, computing power, database), MongoDB + 10Gen (Scalable DB + Commercial Hosting), Zuora (Payment Solutions), Twilio (Voice and Text Based Services) have brought to the software industry at large (along with a few risks, of course). I also should point out that is very clever to “solve a problem everybody has to tackle” and offer it as a platform service, SaaS companies will come and go and yet the solution you offer will still be needed by those that remain.

I recently came across one of those smart solutions for a problem many of us have to tackle; this is a problem I have faced myself a couple times in the past years and I know it is not a simple one: in designing a user interface for a user to complete a task you have to be very careful about balancing ease of use and power/capability, particularly if it is an operation that will likely be repeated multiple times in the future by the same individual. Simplify  it too much and it is not powerful enough to keep the non-novice around, hand hold it too much and it will feel cumbersome and slow for the experienced user, give it too much flexibility/capability and the novice user may not be able to accomplish it as they will feel overwhelmed by all the options and variations facing them.... I sometimes wish I could stand on the shoulder of my users and guide them the first few times, I know after a couple runs they will understand, feel confident and be successful completing the task without any more hand holding... Enter Walkme 

Walkme is a great solution for this need; it allows you to create walk through’s for your users; they will see these walk throughs as screen instructions that take the form of balloon hits or guided navigation through the app (they support branching)

A couple capabilities that really excited me about WalkMe was they offer an editor for non programmers to create these walk throughs as well as an API for a more in depth and sophisticated integration, the other very important capability is that Walkme instruments all of the walkthroughs and allow you to analyze if users are actually exiting any flow before achieving the desired result (do you have a usability bottleneck? some bug that may have gone unnoticed before?), you can create new walk through’s on the fly if you realize users need help / guidance completing a particular task. 

Walk Through Editor:

Instrumentation / Tracking: 

Are you creating a product that requires users to complete a task? do you wish you could stand on your user's shoulder guiding them through it? I encourage you to give Walkme a try:

(I received no sample, no payment or no other reward for this post, I just like to recognize good stuff when I see it)

What do you think?

Filiberto Selvas

No comments: