Our First Product Launch: Unify
After many months of concept, design, programming, and testing, we have at long last launched Unify. This is our first ever product launch and the entire process has been exciting, fun, and very educational.
Our aim with Unify was to address the fantasy that we all have had at some point in our designer/developer careers: to have a ridiculously-simple-to-implement app that allowed for easy content updates on the page in a browser. We wanted to allow designers with basic HTML/CSS skills the ability to install and implement Unify. We also wanted it to be simple enough to use so that “the church secretary could make content updates to the church website.”
We believe that the results are true to those foundational desires. Unify installs in seconds and requires no database setup, no programming skill, and no special tags or syntax. We purposefully aimed low with the features, working to keep Unify as simple as possible. Even so, we were compelled to add a few features absent from other editing tools.
For instance, Unify has a definition list tool that allows non-technical people to add and edit these tricky lists.
Also, we recognized the fact that there is often a need to create duplicates of somewhat complex arrangements of content, like a staff listing with a photo, bio, and other information. We therefore created what we’re calling Unify Repeatables, which allows a non-technical person the ability to drag a new copy of a complex array of content and edit it to create a new entry.
Finally, we wanted Unify to work well with PHP <include> elements. We made it so that if there is an editable area inside of an <include>, an edit to that section would be published wherever that include existed.
It is worth noting also that we built Unify to work well only with properly written HTML. It is not a forgiving tool and not best suited for neophytes or those who lack markup craft skill. For instance, even though some DOCTYPEs allow for unclosed tags, Unify does not. Validation is not a prize, it is a yardstick. Regardless of validation evaluation, unclosed tags are indicative of sloppy programming and can lead to technological compatibility problems. Unify was not built to be a friend of sloppy programming.
Upon reflection, I would highly recommend that every web design agency go through the process of conceiving, designing, building, testing, and launching a product, for the educational experience alone. Merely doing pieces of that process leaves much unlearned and untested. I might point out here that there is also supporting the product …and that is a horse of an entirely different color. We look forward to this continuing educational process.