Design and Publishing Notebook

What Business Catalyst Needs from Adobe

07 Dec 2009

I wonder how far Adobe looked into Business Catalyst before deciding to bring it into the Adobe stable of products a few months ago?

Business Catalyst claims to be an “Online Business Building Tool” and, yes, it offers a wide variety of functions in a single online tool. But this very diversity is also its undoing. It is broad, but it is also shallow. And it is immature.

The shallowness is revealed to the web developer as soon as they start to use the system in earnest. It manifests in every aspect of the product. It is a system which does the basics in each functional area, but no more. It lacks the sophistication and polish of the specialised tool designed to do one job only and do it really well. By trying to do all jobs it does nothing particularly well.

The experienced designer and/or web developer will have used many different tools and systems in their career. Some tools are created so carefully and meticulously that it is a joy to use them. This cannot be said of Business Catalyst. It is tolerable experience and that is all one can say.

One only has to peruse the Business Catalyst support forums periodically to pick up the sentiment of frustration expressed by many users. There is a constant flow of messages from web developers wanting to do something which seems simple and sensible who are informed by the Business Catalyst support people that their expectation is not possible. The system cannot do this or that. Sometimes these limitations are almost crippling and the workarounds can be truly arcane.

Every time I pay a visit to these forums, I am struck by the palpable sense of anger coming through in some of the messages. People are not happy about a lot of things in Business Catalyst.

What can Adobe bring to this situation?

Hopefully wisdom and depth and thoroughness.

Do you read the 37signals blog articles about their design process? Perfectionists they are and it shows in their apps (Basecamp, Backpack, Highrise, etc). Business Catalyst needs developers and a development process of that calibre.

It’s a big ask because Business Catalyst is a jack of all trades and it needs to be a master of all those trades as well, instead of a master of none.

Here’s hoping for improvement.

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