Thursday, September 27, 2012

Introducing Webmaker, the Product

As you all may remember from previous posts and announcements, we launched Webmaker, the Brand, a few months ago and built and released some of the core foundations, like Thimble, PopcornMaker and the initial learning projects. All of this existed under the common branding umbrella, but were still stand alone projects, teams and processes and end user experiences. 

As Mark mentioned in his post, over the last couple of months, we’ve been focusing on Webmaker, the Product, not as a major pivot - we’ve been doing this stuff for almost a year now - but really as a new perspective on our work and honing in on core priorities. We’re doing so for two core reasons:

  1. Experience - we want to develop a Webmaker experience that helps people make things that they want to share and learn web skills in the process. The tool or the mechanics of how things work behind the scenes shouldn’t get in the way of the making and sharing experience. This requires a group of people thinking about the experience from that level, stitching together various tools and sites, creating pathways across projects, etc. At the same time, we need to make sure the tools and projects behind that experience are high quality/robust and remain innovative, so we want to have clear foresight into the roadmaps against the Webmaker goals.
  2. Efficiency - we want to make sure that we’re prioritizing things and allocating resources in a way that supports that experience. But this isn’t just internally, we also want to make participation and contribution as easy and seamless as possible - this needs to be designed and supported as a core part of the product.

With all of this in mind, we spent a few weeks drilling into the details and landed on a crisper definition of what Webmaker (the Product) is, who it’s for and how it’s going to roll out and grow. We need some help in gut checking on this to make sure it feels right and that there aren’t any major gaps:

Why Webmaker?

We want to teach people about the web through the web and real technologies. What better way to understand and fall in love with the web, then realize that you can remix it for your own views and opinions and then share it with your networks? And what if in that process, you learned core skills that helped you not only make more things on the web, but changed your attitude in life from just consumption and acceptance, to production and expression? That’s what we are trying to do here, that’s why Webmaker.

What is Webmaker?

Two elements of Webmaker:

  1. Tools - tools that support remixing, making and sharing on the web, while building learning into the process as well. Thimble, Popcorn Maker and X-ray Goggles for now. Game Maker, Mobile later.  [logos]
  2. Starter Projects - projects, challenges, games and content that sit on top of the tools and guide people in making cool shit and provide instructions and learning objectives as well. On Thimble, starter projects are hackable webpages that have some challenge or project that you complete by editing the HTML and CSS code on the left. In Popcorn, starter projects are thematic videos that you can remix, with some skill development baked into the core content of the video.

Who is Webmaker for?

Two audiences for Webmaker:

  1. primary: webmakers - people with something to say, those who want to express themselves and tinker*
  2. secondary: webmaker makers - i.e. educators - those who want to teach other people this stuff, amplify our cause and our reach. We want to build this community, inspire them to teach webmaking and empower them to not only use our content, but remix it and to contribute back.
*A few important pieces here to unpack:
  • with something to say”: we are targeting the current or future Tumblrs of the world - those people who have an opinion, a sense of humor, a cause, etc. We want to help them make things that they care about and want to share with the world. 
  • tinker”: we’ve decided that for now, our target audience is more amateur and playful. So we want to support someone making a webpage to show their love for Lady Gaga, but not necessarily someone who wants to come make their business webpage. Doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t make their business webpage, but we are not explicitly focusing there. Also has implications for the types of service level agreements, domain registrations, etc. we offer.

How will Webmaker roll?


  • Making + learning foundations (mostly done, in progress)
  • Experience design and connections across tools (MozFest)
  • Contribution foundations (end of 2012)
  • User + social features including gallery, collaboration within the tools, etc. (end of Q1 2013)

MozFest is our first big deliverable for Webmaker, and its a really important one since its the place that we can not only show off our stuff, but more importantly, playtest and user test our stuff and our ideas so that we can come out of it with a solid direction and set of priorities for 2013. Here are some of the core deliverables for MozFest (note, this is the high level view, look for a post from our head of software, Chris, on the technical and more minute details):

  • Experience: ship more unified UX, connecting the Webmaker experience across tools and sites
  • Webmaker Badges: launch badges in Thimble. We see badges as a connector between tools and learning experiences, but also between learners and community members. We are starting with badges and associated assessments within Thimble.
  • Projects: build set of ‘real’ projects like portfolios and other things that people will want to make and share, as well as a plan for testing at MozFest
  • Popcorn: ship PopcornMaker 1.0, the first production version that helps people make awesome Popcorn-ified videos.
  • Instructor Community: ship and test hacktivity kits which help provide some hackable curriculum and scaffolding around our tools and content
  • Contribution: initial plan for localization - where to start, who to enlist for help, etc.
  • Engagement: prototype of community-led QA 
  • Open Badges: ship new Badge Backpack UI - the Mozilla-hosted badge Backpack is part of the Webmaker experience
  • Open News: build Thimble and Popcorn starter projects for journalists
  • Hackable games: prototype hackable games in Thimble

I love this list because you can see how our various projects and programs all start to snap together as part of this Webmaker Product. Still a lot of work to do but its feeling like its moving in a good direction. We would love some feedback and help shaping the next iteration. Key question for now is: Does this make sense to people? What parts are still foggy? Are there any gaps in the narrative?

We are encouraging people to take comments and feedback to the Webmaker list so that the entire community can benefit and respond. I’ll post this to that list as well. 



  1. worldofe posted this