Product design ideas come from iteration

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We recently released a really cool new feature for Blocks Edit: a visual editor for setting properties that turn any email HTML into an editable template for building individual emails from. As we designed and made it work, it seemed to come together pretty seamlessly, taking just a few weeks of effort. The reality of it though is that it’s taken nearly five years for it to come together the way it did!

The original way the editing properties worked was based on adding HTML code CSS classes and attributes via the code itself. We had this in place since the very beginning, adding new properties and tweaking functionality along the way. Even though it’s a simple concept that works well, we still thought about ways to make it even easier to enable those properties. Whether through automation, or via a tool (or both). It would always be in the back of our heads as we evolved the editable tags approach. But we just couldn’t figure out something that worked.

This happens with all product features. Discussions are had for how to improve something as an iteration from a previous update. Sometimes there’s user feedback and using the product internally that something gets upgraded. Sometimes a redesign or code refactor feels necessary. Sometimes there are dead ends to ideas that are explored but end up coming up again later with a new perspective. Like in this case.

Features come from thinking deeply about the product and better understanding how it works over time. The process of ideation, design, and programming helps. As does talking about and presenting the final product to customers. It’s a virtuous cycle of a feature idea leading to design, then coding, then launching, getting feedback and seeing the response, and coming up with ways to improve it later on, or coming up with a whole new idea.

And after going through all that, sometimes you can build an entire visual template editor in just a few weeks. It previously would not have been possible because we simply wouldn’t have been able to come up with how to do it! If you want to see how the feature works, you can check out a 5-minute video of me going through the process of using it.