Friday, November 21, 2008

What makes a sexy demo

I am finally going over my jboye08 notes and I found my scribbles from the Web Idol competition. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this event, each vendor gets seven minutes to demonstrate their product. "Celebrity" judges put in their quips (á la American Idol) and the audience votes on what product they like the most. In addition to being entertaining, the event gives insight into what the vendors think are their coolest features (they can't show everything in 7 minutes) and what the audience responds to. Here is what the vendors demonstrated this year (in order of their appearance).

Sitecore showed:
  • incontext editing
  • their "site builder" functionality
  • multi-device preview
  • their ribbon tool bars
  • building a slide show

SDL Tridion showed:
  • incontext editing
  • integrating translation into workflow
  • emailing groups
  • a Forester chart

Hippo showed:
  • dashboard plugins
  • drag and drop WYSIWYG control (e.g. dragging a URL onto a piece of text to create a link)
  • associating content

eZ Systems showed:
  • contributing content from MS Word
  • browse to edit
  • creating a picture gallery
  • community rating

e-Spirit showed:
  • database integration through the administrative UI

This year Sitecore won first place and Hippo came in second. Interestingly, reigning champion eZ Systems did not show all the video functionality which helped them win last year. The audience seemed to be the most attracted to clean user interfaces that looked simple to use. Advanced functionality like sophisticated workflow and database integration were less compelling. While an event like Web Idol does not translate into a software selection, I think this result reenforces the importance of simplicity and ease of use in a demo. Power, range, and flexibility gets a product onto a short list but simplicity is what business users find sexy (at least as far as software demos go). If you are running a CMS selection, this means that you need to make sure that all of the products that demo to your selection team meet your core functional and non-functional requirements.