September 18, 2012
I spend a bunch of time working with software startups and am always amazed by how much time they spend sweating every little pixel of their site – much of the reason for this attention is an effort to hone the user experience (UX) to the point where even a four year old with no language or computer skills could miraculously work out the best way to use the service. UX is hard enough for a simple site, but when a service includes deep functionality and layers and layers of options, trying to include a simple UI becomes super hard. This is where WalkMe comes in.
WalkMe is an overlay for a website or web app that creates pop-ups all over the place to contextually guide a user through interactions with the service. The service creates little pop-up bubbles over various points in order to lead your users through a typical interaction, be it a bank website or a complex social tool. Think of it as a web 2.0 version of Clippy.
Online publishers and software vendors can create their own “Walk-Thrus” in order to assist their users to follow a path to achieving their outcomes. WalMe believes their application helps to avoid end-user confusion, and solves the probelsm with user manuals and help desks which are disconnected from the actions a user is taking. WalkMe doesn’t require any real site integration – using the WalkMe editor, users creare the individual WalkThrus and then adds the WalkMe code snippet to the header of the HTML pages which have individual Walk-Thrus. It’s similar to adding a Google analytics snippet to track site views and visitor interactions.
WalkMe has three distinct product components;
- WalkMe Editor—The WalkMe editor is a tool for creating and editing Walk-Thrus
- WalkMe Player—The WalkMe Player is an on-screen widget that allows end-users to control the visual experience and look of Walk-Thrus
- WalkMe Analytics—WalkMe Analytics is an analytical tool to review the efficiency of Walk-Thru playback data.
Founder Dan Adika likens the product to turn by turn navigation – in the same way that a GPS will modify a route on the fly depending on a drivers choice, so too can WalkMe provide contextually sensitive instructions within a business process. Below is a screen grab of the sort of analystics the product delivers.
I actually really like what WalkMe is doing – everyone hates Microsoft’s Clippy tool but it’s aim, to provide users with a friendly, in-line and in-context guide is entirely valid. WalkMe has reinvented that for a browser based world. Their demo video shows WalkMe being used within salesforce and I agree that complex and process-intensive SaaS applications are a good use-case for WalkMe. I also think that it is a really useful tool for consumer facing services which often have to provide an experience that can be understood by both technically minded folks and completely lay people. Of course WalkMe is no replacement for good UX design, however it is a useful replacement for simplicity in the event that a service simply grows into a complex being.
WalkMe seems like a good tool for companies that are trying to remove barriers to organizations adopting the cloud and also trying to diffuse adoption beyond simply early adopters. To this end it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see WalkMe acquired by one of the larger companies trying to build a broad cloud platform across organizations – both internal and external facing. It’s hard to not think that Salesforce could well be a potential acquirer for the company – watch this space!
Walkme is a useful tool – yes companies can probably build their own solutions to do what WalkMe does – but having a play with it it seems to be pretty simple tool – and in this cloudy world, sometimes it’s easier to simply plug in a best-of-breed point solution than to build the functionality out yourself.