Putting the Pieces Together
Something I’ve been thinking lately: perhaps it’s time to move to higher-level applications in our suite. I’m basically thinking our *.as and *Freely apps make sense as highly generic tools fit for a wide range of uses, and then we can offer another layer of more specialized apps on top of them.
I’m already imagining some more complex and specialized tools that fall outside the scope of our individual “small, focused apps”: we could combine Draft.as, Submit.as, Write.as, and Snap.as into an end-to-end professional publishing platform. We could combine Write.as, Snap.as, and Remark.as into a general social space; Snap.as and Remark.as could form a more visual social space; or Write.as and Remark.as could combine to serve special collaborative spaces, e.g. writing groups or small teams.
The problems with this design lie mostly in branding, product communication, and mobility between products.
We need to clearly define who our generic tools are for (maybe Write.as = individual writers), and who are more complex tools are for (e.g. Pro Pub Platform = publications). We need to make sure there isn’t too much overlap between the products (Oops, I chose the Pro Pub Platform when I just need something simple). And we need to make sure our platform can grow and change with users throughout their creative life — from first getting their ideas out there, to building an audience, to doing their work professionally.
We’re working out the details of this last part now, mostly between Write.as and Submit.as. Today, someone can choose to start with Submit.as alone, and later connect it to Write.as, if they want. Functionality between the services is currently combined, which certainly makes the experience heavier, but in the near future they’ll be separate, where it makes sense.
Working in the opposite direction, we built Snap.as completely separate from Write.as, making it so users had to go between the apps to e.g. upload photos and then include them in their blog posts. This is conducive to Snap.as developing into its own product, but it adds unnecessary friction for cross-product use cases like this one that we want to support. So, for example, we recently added image uploads into Write.as, powered by Snap.as.
These questions will still take plenty of experimentation over the long term to work out. But it’s my hope that, in the end, we’ll have a collection of creative tools that fit all kinds of work on the web, across all periods of your creative career.