Author: Steve Callanan, CEO
Last year we launched the biggest update to the WIREWAX platform; a multi-page, end-to-end management and authoring environment that maximized the browser real estate, improved video management and made a shift to a fully HTML5 power tool. The focus was speed, efficiency, scale and flexibility while being far more intuitive and easy to use. We also integrated a whole bunch of new features and services for you to explore. It was a success, we saw a 38% increase in users in less than a few months and significantly increased activity from existing users. Thousands of you came back and did more for longer, again and again.
On this significant platform milestone, I insisted on our most valuable addition… visibility. Before this update we had no knowledge or understanding of what you were all doing in the tool. Yes, we could see the final WIREWAX videos you were creating but we knew nothing of your journey there; did you find it a breeze, did you make your masterpiece in seconds, or did you struggle, were you utterly confused and sickened by the very concept and leave never to return again? This time we integrated systems that could monitor where you were frustrated, where the pinch-points were, where mistakes were being made and if you were taking a journey different to what we intended.
After the first few days of launch we were seeing some truly incredible videos, demonstrating the power of the new and versatile toolset - we quickly highlighted those in our Staff Picks page. However, we were also witnessing an insight into how our UX designs were working with a wealth of data never seen before. We were shocked and heart-wrenchingly disappointed; our user experience designs weren’t working as best as we’d hoped. You were creating incredible interactive and connected experiences, more than ever, but it wasn’t the easy ride we intended. Yes, we had made some mistakes.
In some places it was clear we chose style over simplicity and in others we misjudged how clear we had made some of the trickier features. You could say we’re developing a ground-breaking platform and pushing the envelope of video technology so we can be excused, but some of the mistakes were sloppy, others were damn right irresponsible. The ugliest were the hidden, even buried functions and lack of any explanation for how to use them. You were expected to just figure it out - that was the wrong decision.
For that reason, we quickly made incremental improvements but, sometimes there’s no alternative than to tear it up and start again. I wanted to rethink some of the biggest design features that were restrictive, obfuscated and misleading. If we were going to start again one thing was clear – this time everything had to be done differently. We would prioritize simplicity and clarity over design; ensure nothing is confusing. Instant, succinct and transparent help would always be available and we’d improve the workflow without exception.
The most significant design change is the reorganization of fragmented settings to a persistent and comprehensive side panel. Here you can see your video settings or switch panels to publish settings. Add or edit one of your tags and the panel switches to tag settings, now allowing you to select tag behavior - with instant click-out and video branching, see more below. We believe keeping this familiar side panel as a destination for all your levers and pulleys makes this a far more intuitive and clearer interface. We’ve made input fields, drop-down menus and buttons big and clear. When you need settings within settings (geo-locking or instant click-out, for example) a clear sub-panel appears where you can make changes and quickly retreat when you’re ready. We’re starting with the video and tag settings but very soon we’ll be adding the tag manager and the overlay picker and rebuilding the overlay editor to follow this same approach.
You’ll now notice almost everything has a (?) icon – hit this and you’ll get more explanation about what it does and what it’s used for. Some of these will be a short animated video to demonstrate it in action (more of these will come), others a line or two to give you a little pointer. If you see these tips then you’ll also witness our new alert and messaging prompt.
You’ll also notice that the video player and the timeline have been repositioned to accommodate the side panel and now maximize the space. The timeline has seen some minor improvements but you notice that we’ve restricted the expanding clips to when the video is in a paused state – removing the sometimes erratic playback animation.
We’re not saying that we’ve solved all UX problems here and there are many more improvements we can make still, but we believe this is a far superior and more effective experience so far.
We receive hundreds of feature requests from our user base each week, sometimes unusual and outright bonkers but most of them are valid, interesting and valuable and if we believe they would have significant benefit to the wider WIREWAX family then we will endeavor to add them to the toolset. There are seemingly simple requests like upload your own poster frame, instant preview, geo-locking and the option to move the tag icon position – all of which now form part of the toolset.
Some of the more complex, challenging and longed-for features like video branching and the ability to upload your own custom tag designs have been successfully mastered and will appear shortly - the new side panel has given us more freedom and flexibility while remaining consistent and clear.
There’s more to come. We’re busy working on more features on our roadmap, many of which you’ve asked for, like; CSS editing in the overlay editor, more intelligent motion-tracking correction, famous face and repeated face recognition. Watch this space as it’s all coming soon. In the meantime, get yourself back in the WIREWAX Studio and have a nosey around.