One of the questions often asked during our customer visits or during the trade shows or many conferences we participate in is the reason why we ended FrontPage 2003 and launched instead Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007. One thing we must say right off the bat is that FrontPage 2003 was an excellent product and was widely praised and used by millions of customers around the world.
However our market research showed us that our audience was becoming more and more fragmented and the number of scenarios requested by the customers far outpaced what the product could deliver. The research as well told us we had three distinctive user groups:
- Information Workers: This group is interested in developing data-intensive and process-focused scenarios in an enterprise intranet.
- Designers: These users are all about designing great websites using the latest technologies.
- Developers: This group is all about designing software and applications using sophisticated coding tools.
It became obvious that to be successful in the marketplace, we had to address these three classes of users with distinct offerings to better respond to their needs. Therefore we made the decision in late 2005 to launch two distinct products: Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 and Expression Web. They would complement a third product already in the marketplace: Visual Studio 2005.
Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 is designed to integrate itsself in the Microsoft SharePoint products and services as the core customization and composite application tool and responds to the needs of Information Workers. Microsoft Expression Web is part of a family of products called Expression and is focused on designers. Visual Studio remains the preferred tool for developers.
As we are launching these products right now, we are finding out that those scenarios are playing well in the marketplace. Focusing on SharePoint Designer 2007, it is obvious that our core users are going to be enterprise IT and business unit IT folks but because of the finite amount of these resources, the power users are going to use our product more and more in a wide range of scenarios, building sophisticated composite SharePoint applications, designing workflows based on SharePoint lists and document libraries and leveraging the page layout capabilities of SharePoint Designer to extend the MOSS (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007) Web Content Management features. We see it as a win-win situation in the sense that we are reaching to a wide audience of IT, BUIT and IW power users and at the same time, we are establishing credibility with the developers, which appreciate the ASP.Net features of SharePoint Designer and the Visual Studio Extensible Model.
I will come back in upcoming postings in more details about our core scenarios but I wanted to give our readers the big picture of the positioning of our product and how we view it in the marketplace.