Optimal Workshop welcomes WebSort and PlainFrame users!

Today we have exciting and emotional news. Optimal Workshop has acquired WebSort and PlainFrame, two tools for card sorting and tree testing respectively. We’re really excited to be welcoming so many new users to Optimal Workshop on one day. Welcome!

On Monday the 3rd of March, we will retire the WebSort and PlainFrame UIs—everyone will be upgraded to Optimal Workshop.  Read on to find out what it means for you, why we’ve made the change, and why we’re excited. We also hear from WebSort founder and sole developer Jed Wood.

What this means for WebSort users

You’ll find that OptimalSort truly is an ‘upgrade’, mostly due to the more usable sorting interface and more comprehensive analytics tools. All WebSort users will be able to log into their Optimal Workshop accounts on the 03/03/14. You’ll find that all your existing surveys, credits and subscriptions will be moved across, and should be fully intact.  

The WebSort user interface for survey administrators and participants alike was built using Adobe Flash, an outdated technology choice for online applications, and changing this would require an entire rebuild. Now that OptimalSort sports hybrid card sorting and a pay-per-use pricing model there’s every reason to use OptimalSort.

Why we are migrating WebSort data in one hit

We’ve made a decision to migrate all WebSort data into OptimalSort in one hit. WebSort has almost no traffic on a late Sunday, early Monday. We’d realized that there would be no other substantial “quiet time” to migrate the data. There’s no notice period that wouldn’t end in the middle of someone’s survey. So we plan to make the change as quick and painlessly as possible. If you have questions about the migration, please see our UX Punk Q&A.

Why we’re excited about the change, and why you can be too

The most exciting part about this move for us and for everyone is that it allows us to focus future support and development efforts on one cohesive codebase. And we’ll be able to deliver new features much faster for both Optimal Workshop and UX Punk customers. Maintaining two codebases is hard, so I’m really excited about the focus we now have within our team.  We’re enthusiastic about the fantastic opportunities this focus will bring for user research efforts internationally.

Let’s hear it for WebSort founder Jed Wood!

I’d like to take a moment to welcome Jed Wood, founder and sole developer at WebSort, to the stage:

“When my father Larry and I built the first version of WebSort 12 years ago, we thought there were maybe a dozen people that would be interested in online card sorting. WebSort’s accidental commercial success put me on a detour from my straight UX career path and into the world of web development. I never imagined I’d become so comfortable with command line Linux, DNS, and SQL. 

WebSort was always a part-time gig for me, and Larry eventually retired. The fellows at Optimal Workshop released some great tools. Then the explosion of iPhones and iPads all but killed the Flash platform, which WebSort has relied on since the beginning. Optimal continued to revise and improve their toolset, moving away from Flash. Rebuilding WebSort (and PlainFrame) didn’t seem worth it. It had been years since I personally had done any card sorting. It was time to end my production web development detour and return to my UX Roots.

I recently joined the UX team at Ancestry.com as a prototyper. The role is perfect for me; those dev skills help me create complex mockups, but I’m not responsible for production applications. As WebSort users move to Optimal Workshop, they’ll be in good hands. Optimal has an entire team working full time to continue improving the tools. I’m excited and a bit relieved that we can close WebSort while immediately providing a new home for our users and their sorting studies. 

Thank you to all my old card sorting friends that helped us create WebSort!”

Thank you Jed, we sincerely respect all the love that you put into WebSort and we’re proud to offer this path to your valued customers.

If you have any nice comments for Jed please leave them in the comment section below so he can review them here.

Sarah of WebSort has joined our Better Experience Bureau

To help you feel at home, your friend Sarah from WebSort will show you around OptimalSort. Sarah has joined the Optimal Workshop Better Experience Bureau and is available on support@optimalworkshop.com if you have any detailed questions that aren’t covered by our UX Punk Q&A.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Mayfield

CEO of Optimal Workshop

  1. Will you still support images on cards, like WebSort?

    Melinda 26/02/2014
    • Yes! OptimalSort supports images on cards too.

      Andrew Mayfield 26/02/2014
  2. Great to hear that Sarah is moving over as well, and congrats Jed on the new role!

    Jamie Gallant 04/03/2014