The web is a pretty incredible thing. It is the most powerful medium of communication that has ever existed. It’s powerful in the reach of its network with around half the population of Earth connected. It’s powerful in it’s adaptability to form factor, accessible on our desktops, in our pockets and through our watches. It is everywhere and increasingly, inside of everything. The web is also powerful as a medium. It’s functional, interactive, visual and fluid.
But (and here’s the kicker) as a medium for expression the web is largely inaccessible to the vast majority of its users. That is, as a “language” which one might use to communicate ideas, propositions, stories or anything else the web is scary and complex.
Qwilr’s mission is to liberate the web from this complexity. To make it a “speakable” language by anybody, anywhere. In other words: rather than going to the web only for very special occasions, to build big complex websites that we expect to last for years, what if we could dash off a quick website in a few minutes?
The great challenge of design is to translate complexity into simplicity and so there is a mammoth design challenge at the heart of Qwilr’s mission: how to abstract the deep complexity of the web, as a visual, responsive, interactive and functional medium into an interface so simple and quick to use that “putting together a quick website” becomes not just a plausible idea, but pleasurable user experience.
Qwilr’s solution, as a design ethos, centres on the primacy of user intent over low level control. If you play with the Qwilr interface you can see that we have taken great trouble to translate what a user wants conceptually (“I want a nice impressive opening part with a video in it”), rather than what a designer or engineer might actually translate this to in their specialised domains (“I want a high contrast background div, with a large display sans-serif heading font at 40px…” etc). Paradoxically, it is by removing the language of design and engineering, that Qwilr has made the power of these disciplines actually accessible to our users.
Designing Qwilr required an almost heretical approach to the notion of The Document (webpages are just digital documents after all). There is a centuries long lineage of design thinking around what a document is, and what it’s capable of. Since the Gutenberg press, way back in 1440, the paradigm of The Document has been centred around paper. Text and images within a frame of paper. This paradigm still reigns in the software we have today – Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Google Docs etc. are all essentially A4 pieces of paper available in the cloud.
Qwilr’s design started with the question: “how can we make the web a language that anybody can speak?” – and the answer is a radical redefinition of The Document, what it can be and what it can do.