Commerce Server Business User Tools – A future vision

For anyone following our roadmap, you will know that 2013 is the year of the “UI Revamp”. That is to say that we’re laser focused this year on augmenting the existing fragmented set of desktop applications that are used to administer Commerce Server today, with a brand new web based tool.

As Ryan mentioned in his recent Q1 recap, work is fully underway on this initiative and we thought it would be fun to share with you some artwork of the work in progress.

We’re working with Toledo2, a team of UX experts – their chief Architect Arturo Toledo I previously worked with on the Microsoft Expression product line in a former life at Microsoft. They really understand UX and are approaching the task with a complete “blue sky” vision.

Gone, are the database views of the past, and we’re now thinking entirely task based. So for this part of the project they’ve been working with us on “stories” in the life of a Merchandizer. Yes, literally that, stories. It’s fun to do and it makes us think about not just “how?” people do things, but also “why?”

To illustrate these stories, we’re producing wireframes and walkthroughs, some of which are represented below. Once we have these stories completed, we will shift gears and head out into Commerce Server land and start to “show and tell” these stories to our customers and partners. We want to see what resonates and what doesn’t. What did we get right, what did we get wrong? And then we’ll iterate on the wireframes until they start to take a more concrete form.

I often liken the process to painting on a canvas, initially you can’t necessarily see what the final “painting” will look like, but over the weeks and months, it become clearer. The wonderful Rolf Harris said it best, “Can you tell what it is yet?”


In parallel, our engineering teams are working on identifying how the underlying API “hooks” might need to change. Remember I did say “blue sky” – the UX team are purposely not coming to the project with knowledge of how Commerce Server works today. That way they can drive the vision and hence the product forward. Similarly, we are evaluating HTML/CSS/JS responsive frameworks to build on, once we start coding mid-year.

We don’t view this as an entirely 2013 effort though – this will be a multi-year project that will get better and better as we release more functionality over time. And because they will be web based and decoupled from the main product, it makes it very easy for us to release updated versions.

We hope you like the approach we’re taking – we “know” you’re going to love the end result!